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Arts Council reopens National Lottery Project Grants after Covid-19 suspension

The Arts Council has announced that its rolling funding programme National Lottery Project Grants (NLPG), which supports a broad range of creative and cultural projects benefiting the public, will reopen on 22 July 2020 with a budget of £59.8 million available until April 2021.

Recognising the needs of independent organisations, creative practitioners and freelancers at this time, the Arts Council has prioritised the reopening of NLPG and will work to distribute awards as quickly and efficiently as possible.

While grants can be used to fund those directly creating and delivering cultural activity, NLPG also supports work that has longer term positive impact – such as Research and Development for individuals and organisations, a need highlighted by practitioners as we emerge from the Covid-19 lockdown. Before the portal reopens for applications, the Arts Council will publish new advice outlining how applicants can make the most of these opportunities under our current circumstances.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, and to release funds for the Arts Council’s £160 million Emergency Response Package, NLPG was one of several programmes that were suspended. Part of its budget was repurposed as emergency funding and £64.8 million of that has already been distributed to nearly 10,000 individuals and independent organisations across the country.

Over a two-phased approach, we will improve NLPG to make it more responsive to the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners.  A number of improvements have been announced:

  • The 10% match funding condition will be relaxed.
  • Libraries will now be able to apply for activity that aligns with any of the four Universal Library Offers.
  • An external advice-giving programme is being planned to ensure that the fund reaches a wider and more diverse applicant pool (more details to be announced soon).
  • We will aim for at least equal success rates for individual and organisations, to make sure that individuals are well supported while other programmes, like Developing your Creative Practice, are unavailable.

Given the timescales involved in redesigning the fund, more significant changes will be the subject of consultation and are planned for Spring 2021.  These will reflect our new ten-year strategy, Let’s Create, and take into account feedback on the Emergency Response Funds.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen how much of a positive difference creative people and organisations make to communities across England. Thanks to National Lottery players, we’ve been able to support our nation’s creativity over the past few months through our Emergency Response Funds. Now, we’re turning our attention to rebuilding cultural and artistic life in our villages, towns and cities through this £59.8 million National Lottery Project Grants investment in artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries.”

Notes to editors

 About National Lottery Project Grants: 

When the fund reopens it will still include budget for Grassroots Music Venues, Touring Extensions and National Activities Over and Under £100k, but National Portfolio Organisations will be asked to consider all other options available to them before applying for over £100k, so that as many applications as possible can be supported.

The 2020/21 budget of £59.3 million is made up of £57.5 million ring-fenced when NLPG was suspended and the £2.3 million underspend from the Arts Council’s Emergency Response Fund for Organisations outside the National Portfolio.

You can find out more about National Lottery Project Grants here

The Arts Council’s next steps:

The Arts Council has now moved into the stabilisation phase of its planning, focused on helping the sector reopen, adapt business models and build capability to operate in a changed environment. The Arts Council is having positive conversations with Government, including through its Cultural Renewal Taskforce and working groups, to provide effective support to the sector through the next stages.

Decisions for the third element of the Arts Council’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Package, a fund targeted at National Portfolio Organisations and Creative People and Places lead organisations, will be announced by the end of next week.

About Arts Council England:

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture.  By 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council has developed a £160 million emergency response package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support.  Find out more a

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 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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