Arts Council England
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Biggest change to arts funding in a generation

In what is the biggest transformation of arts funding for a generation, a new National portfolio funding programme will, from April 2012, replace the Arts Council's current regularly funded system.

Central to this new funding system is Achieving great art for everyone, a strategic framework for the arts, published today.  Developed in partnership with the public, artists and arts organisations following a major consultation earlier this year, the framework will provide the policy context for our investment in the arts with five clear strategic goals informing future funding decisions.

This work is published in the context of an almost 30% cut in our funding from government. This is a very significant reduction, but we are determined to take a long-term view when making funding decisions.

Liz Forgan, Chair, Arts Council England, said: 'While the funding cuts will have a severe impact on our budget, they will not dent the shape of our ambitions for the arts and audiences in this country. We are determined to take a long-term view, and to achieve the goals set out in our new 10-year strategic framework'.

An open-access programme for all organisations

The new system is open-application, with all organisations invited to apply online. Applications must be received by 10am on 24 January 2011 and decisions on the national portfolio organisations will be announced at the end of March 2011. The new system will be in place from April 2012.

The four major changes from the existing regular funding programme to national portfolio funding are:

  • an open-application process for all organisations
  • funds awarded will be for a fixed term of normally three years, but there will be the flexibility in the length of funding agreements from two up to six years
  • funding agreements with organisations will be based on clear criteria and shared goals
  • funding agreements will be based around 'strategic' and 'programme' relationships, rather than 'one-size-fits-all' relationship

All decisions to be made against a set of published criteria

Funded organisations must have an outstanding track record of achievement or outstanding potential and so the first stage of decision-making will take place following an assessment of the organisation itself and its ability to deliver against the goals set out in Achieving great art for everyone.

The second stage will be about balancing the overall portfolio of organisations that the Arts Council wants to support to achieve the long-term vision - for example, in terms of artform, size of organisation and geographical spread.

A smaller portfolio of funded organisations

We want to create the conditions for excellence to thrive via a portfolio that is dynamic and resilient. That's why some organisations will receive more funding, some will receive less, and some will no longer receive funding.  This will mean of course some very tough decisions; our funding is limited and there will undoubtedly be some good applications we are unable to support. 

The new portfolio will be smaller than the current one, with the potential loss of more than 100 organisations by 2015. This is preferable to maintaining a large portfolio that will be progressively debilitated by cuts over the course of the settlement.

Strategic and programme relationships with funded organisations

Within the portfolio, the Arts Council will have two types of relationship with organisations; there will be a smaller number of 'strategic' organisations who will take responsibility for the development of the arts and demonstrate leadership at a national or local level, and a larger number of 'programme' organisations, who will deliver outstanding artistic work in their field.

2011/12 - a year of transition

The majority of our regularly funded organisations have been given an equal cut for 2011/12, which has been kept to 6.9%. This approach gives organisations a quick and fair decision on their immediate funding. It also gives arts organisations a year of transition that builds towards the new funding structure.

You can view a full breakdown of funding amounts for each regularly funded organisation in 2011/12 on our regularly funded organisations page.

Read more

See national portfolio organisation funding programme for guidance to applicants and to access the online application system. See Achieving great art for everyone to read our strategic framework for the arts, and see Achieving great art for everyone: analysis of responses


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