I would agree with the other answer that the main role the arts play in modern Britain is to fuel tourism, an important industry in that country. Britain is especially a premier home of literature, having produced what is considered the greatest body of literature in the world, but also contains great works of art and architecture. As the world's superpower and premier Empire in the nineteenth-century, it gathered important art from all over the world into its museums and great homes. The British Museum, for example, is home to such treasures as the Greek Elgin marbles.
Tourists can also visit such sites as the homes of Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, the Brontes, the Wordsworths, Shakespeare, and more—a list too exhaustive to catalogue. It is home, too, to such architectural treasures as Saint Paul's cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Museums like the Tate hold incomparable collections of English artwork, while the National Gallery of Art contains an important collection of world art.
London has one of the most important theater districts in the world and has in recent years produced some of the world's premier theater through playwrights such as Harold Pinter.
The publishing industry continues to be important in Britain, and the country has created a prestigious set of literary awards to try to promote its contemporary authors. Given that English continues to grow worldwide as the common global language, Britain's contribution to literature will probably continue to be strong.