The Critics' Circle is the national professional body of British critics for dance, drama, film, music, visual arts and architecture. It was established in 1913 as a successor to the Society of Dramatic Critics which was formed in 1906 but had become inactive. The association is equivalent of the American Theatre Critics Association, but older.
For many years the Circle gave no awards. In 1980 the critics from the Film section, known also as the London Film Critics Circle established the ALFS Awards to acknowledge special achievements in the cinema. In 1989 the Drama section organized the first of its Critics' Circle Theatre Awards ceremonies, but it was not until 2002 that Dance awards were presented, followed from 2011 with annual awards by the Music and the Visual Arts and Architecture sections.
In addition to these specific annual awards, since 1988 the Circle has presented the Critics' Circle Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, voted for by all members of the Circle. The award takes the form of an engraved crystal rose bowl presented at a celebratory luncheon which, in recent years, has been held at the Royal National Theatre.