The Promise of Freedom series


The Legatum Institute might not be a destination you’re particularly familiar with but the work carried out by this independent non-partisan public policy organisation is vital to the advancement of political and economic liberty.

Hosting a number of events, programmes and ongoing publications, it advocates a broad spectrum of curated content that invites discussion, debate and most of all, learning. “The Promise of Freedom’ is a forthcoming series of arts lectures that reflect on the 60th anniversary of the coronation of the Queen. Focusing on the relationship between British and American culture from 1953-2013, it will explore how did the creative arts in the UK impact on the American cultural scene, and vice-versa? And what was the nature of the contribution made by poets, visual artists, musicians and playwrights to the wider political, social and economic life of these two countries?  The themes to be explored therefore reflect the Legatum Institute’s characteristic emphasis on a comprehensive understanding of social progress.

Beginning the series on February 26th is Grey Gowrie, a poet and former Cabinet Minister with responsibility for the Arts under Margaret Thatcher, who will be concentrating on how British and American poetry influenced each other. Grey Gowrie will be discussing the work of T.S. Eliot- a poet who moved from the U.S. to live and work in Britain as well as W.H. Auden who travelled in the other direction.

Other highlights include:

March 14th  – Sandy Nairne, Director of the National  Portrait Gallery, will be discussing the changing face of royal portraiture and how the iconography of the Queen as portrayed in the immense variety of portraits that have been painted of her since 1953 has reflected the changing relationship between the Sovereign and her subjects.

April 4th – Sir John Tavener, arguable Britain’s greatest living composer and his wife Maryanna will be in conversation with the historian Hywel Williams, discussing  the influences on his musical compositions and especially the relationship between the word and the score in his Three Poems by George Herbert, a work commissioned by the Legatum Institute.

May 23rd – Dame Harriet Walter will be delivering a talk on changing attitudes towards women, and the  evolution in the understanding of women’s theatrical roles in the recent history of drama in Britain and America.

June 20th – Lieutenant-General Simon Mayall, Senior Adviser Middle East, Ministry of Defence  will be discussing ‘The Arts of Peace and War 1953-2013’- analysing the differing perspectives of British and American commanders during that period. This concluding lecture in the series may serve as a reminder that no aspect of the life of a society can be studied in isolation: the arts and the humanities flourished during this period first under the shadow of the cold war, and at the turn of the millennium the conflicts in the middle east became an inescapable part of the public and cultural debate in the two great countries.

Attendance to these lectures is free, but you must email beforehand