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Arts Council England launches strategic funding

01 November 2011

The Arts Council has today published details of how it will invest £440 million of strategic funding between 2012 and 2015, including two new programmes for Capital and Touring.

Strategic funding will be used to complement the organisation’s £1.04 billion investment in National Portfolio organisations. The strategic funding will be used to target key areas and seize opportunities – including investment in capital, touring and encouraging private giving.

The Arts Council Plan for 2011-2015, also published today, sets out in more detail how strategic funding will be used to realise the priorities set out in Achieving great art for everyone – the Arts Council’s ten-year strategic framework for the arts.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said:

“Much of this new strategic funding comes from our Lottery income, following the Government’s decision to increase the share of Lottery money to the original four good causes. The funding will allow the Arts Council to invest in flexible and targeted ways to help realise our priorities and ambitions for the arts, building on our core investment in the National Portfolio.

“The aim is for the Arts Council to work alongside our National Portfolio, and other artistic and cultural organisations, to deliver our shared aims and ambitions for the arts. I’m sure creative and ambitious organisations across the country will relish the chance to undertake work that ensures the arts keep pushing boundaries and play an even greater role in our national life.”

Any National Portfolio organisation that applies will need to show how the activity supported by strategic funding is in addition to its core programme.

How the strategic funding will be invested

Strategic funding will be invested in three ways:

1. Targeted grant programmes

2. Specific grant commissions

3. General strategic grant programme

1. Targeted grant programmes

There will be three targeted grant programmes that organisations can apply to. These are:

The £180 million Capital programme, which focuses on improving existing arts facilities to help organisations become more sustainable and resilient businesses, including increasing their environmental performance. This programme is now open for applications.

The £50 million Catalyst Arts programme, which is designed to enable arts organisations to diversify their income streams, attract significantly more funding by increasing their fundraising potential, and help them to develop and explore innovative new approaches to securing private giving. This programme is now open for applications.

The £45 million Touring programme is designed to encourage collaboration between organisations so more people across England experience and are inspired by the arts, particularly in places which rely on touring for much of their arts provision. This programme will open for applications on 5 December 2011.

2. Grant commissions

Grant commissions are a new way of doing things for the Arts Council. This approach enables the arts sector to apply to deliver a particular piece of work to a detailed and specific brief given by the Arts Council. These grants will draw on knowledge and expertise from England’s fast growing creative economy to help achieve the Arts Council’s goals and priorities.

A £7.5 million Audience focus fund will see the Arts Council commission initiatives that increase, widen and sustain audiences and visitors for the arts, museums and libraries. The Arts Council is looking to invest in high impact, exciting and ambitious proposals that:

  • have the potential to help funded organisations reach a significantly more people and new audiences, or
  • develop shared approaches to marketing and audience development that make significant savings for participating organisations

The Audience focus fund opens for applications on 4 November 2011.

An open selection process will be launched to find a national provider to continue the development and delivery of the Artsmark scheme as it extends to cover the Arts Council’s new responsibilities for museums and libraries. This £4.5 million fund is now open for applications.

A fund is also being developed to invest in a small number of areas with low arts attendance and engagement, to develop inspiring and sustainable arts and cultural programmes that help get more people involved in the arts. The Creative People and Places fund will launch in early 2012.

3. General strategic grant programme

In spring 2012 the Arts Council will open a General strategic grant programme, giving organisations the chance to apply to undertake work that helps realise the priorities in Achieving great art for everyone. Organisations will be able to approach the Arts Council with creative solutions to achieve priorities not being fully addressed by the National Portfolio and the other strategic funds. The priorities identified as not fully addressed will be set out in the Arts Council’s Area delivery plans, which will be published in the spring.

Notes to editors

Grants for the arts will continue to be open to any application that helps achieve Achieving great art for everyone, with the fund not targeted towards specific priorities. National portfolio organisations are not eligible to apply to Grants for the arts.

Funding for all the strategic programmes comes largely from the Arts Council’s lottery income. This income is set to increase following the decision to increase the share of Lottery money to the original four good causes, an increase in Lottery receipts, and the return of the Lottery funds diverted to the Olympics.

Catalyst Arts is part of the £100 million DCMS, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund Catalyst programme to boost private giving to the cultural sector and build long-term resilience, sustainability and innovation.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk