Arts Council England
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Arts Council England announces funding decisions and new National portfolio of arts organisations

Our new National portfolio of funded organisations is announced today, with decisions made within the twin context of our strategic framework Achieving great art for everyone and a challenging economic backdrop.

You can browse the full list of portfolio organisations from our National portfolio funding page.

Our national portfolio in summary

  • reduced grant in aid budget (down 14.9%) in context of wider public sector cuts
  • Arts Council cuts strategically - no 'equal cuts for all'
  • National portfolio of 695 organisations replaces previous regularly funded portfolio of 849
  • 110 new organisations brought into the mix
  • focus on excellent organisations and exceptional individual talent, with decisions shaped by a 10-year vision for the arts
  • touring receives major support with £18 million Lottery a year earmarked for portfolio organisations
  • £10.5 million Lottery a year also targeted at work with children and young people, to ensure vital educational work continues
  • extra  £12 million Grants for the arts Lottery money freed up for small organisations
  • regret as good applications turned down, including 206 existing regularly funded organisations

An open and transparent process

For the first time in the Art Council's 65-year history, the portfolio of funded organisations has been created through an open-application process. We received 1,333 applications and have offered National portfolio funding to 695 organisations.

Decisions have been made on a consistent basis across the country, against published criteria, drawing on detailed regional knowledge, artform expertise and a national overview.

Find out more about our decision-making process.

Hard choices, with more good applications than we were able to fund

Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of Arts Council England, said: 'This is about a resilient future for the arts in England. We have taken the brave path of strategic choices not salami slices which has meant some painful decisions, and it is with great regret that we have had to cease funding some good organisations.

'But we will still be supporting excellence, exceptional talent and successful risk-taking; helping organisations to get their great work out far and wide; backing strong leadership and cultural entrepreneurialism; supporting resilient organisations that can thrive as well as survive; and encouraging work that really enthuses children and young people - because that's where it all begins.

'We have tried to go about this difficult process collaboratively, and with honesty and clarity of purpose. We have been helped enormously by having a 10-year shared vision for the arts, which has focused our minds.'

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: 'There have been some really hard choices as we had so many good applications - more than we were able to fund. In advance of the Spending Review, we said "cut us, don't kill us". Well, with the help of Lottery income, for which we are grateful, we're alive and kicking. But we do regret that we have been unable to fund perfectly good organisations, and I know this will be taken hard by those affected.

'After a thorough process, we believe we have achieved a balance of continuity and change, and of local and national. And we've enabled artists and arts organisations to continue to create the great art from which so much springs. This is a collection of decisions that will mean the arts will not retreat from the important part they play in our national life.'  

 A vision-led National portfolio

The portfolio has been shaped by a set of five shared goals - developed through a major consultation with all those working in the arts and detailed in Achieving great art for everyone. In making our decisions, we have made strenuous efforts to ensure that ambition, artistic exploration and pioneering spirit are kept alive, that inspirational leadership is developed and supported, and that a vibrant countrywide ecology is, as far as possible, maintained. Many artists and organisations will be entering for the first time, bringing a fresh source of energy and renewal.

Fewer organisations are funded, with wider reach

The new portfolio consists of 154 fewer organisations than the existing regular funding portfolio, but its vision for the future is undiminished.

Using published criteria, the final decisions made by National Council and the nine regional councils have resulted in a portfolio that shows the Arts Council is:

  • supporting, rather than holding back, excellent organisations who have just got into their stride - or have made quantum leaps - enabling them to deliver to their full potential and achieve the long-term vision for the arts in this country
  • maintaining, rather than destabilising, organisations who had just reached the point of becoming artistically and commercially resilient
  • offering portfolio funding for the first time to a number of exciting new organisations, many of which have come up through the Grants for the arts Lottery programme and deserve to be put on a proper footing

In the context of a 29.6% reduction to our 2011-2015 funding from government, 14.9% of which has been passed onto funded organisations, we have taken a decision that, even in times of real constraint, the arts should progress as opposed to languishing or going into decline.

Rather than applying a policy of 'equal pain for all', each organisation has received the level of funding judged appropriate to its individual circumstances and to the programmes set out in their applications. As result there have been some really hard choices and we are not able to fund a number of organisations which have been doing a good job.

There has also been a strategic decision to reduce the number of intermediate organisations that the Arts Council has traditionally funded, such as audience development agencies and membership umbrella groups, although there has been valuable work in these areas. We will be looking into ways in which we can build on this work, but the focus will be on programmes of activity and reduced overheads.

All existing regularly funded organisations that were unsuccessful in their applications have 12 months of remaining funding to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or adapt their business plans.

National Lottery funding deployed alongside grant in aid

Our Lottery income is set to rise from an estimated annual figure of £149 million in 2010/11 to £223m in 2014/15.  While Lottery money cannot be used to directly substitute for grant in aid, two distinct investment areas have been identified to support the portfolio: £18 million a year for touring, to ensure that more people have access to first class artistic experiences wherever they live, and £10.5 million a year to support strategic work with children and young people, ensuring that there is a direct connection between the work produced by arts organisations and schools and communities in their area.

Sharing leadership and expertise

Over the next six months, tailored funding agreements will be negotiated with each national portfolio organisation. In the course of this process, we hope to identify a small number of 'Leadership' organisations, chosen for their ability to take responsibility for the development of the arts beyond their organisations, not just for the work they do.

This is a new idea, designed to generously spread expertise - for example, in fundraising, digital skills and talent development - to organisations who have less resource and capacity. Leadership organisations, announced in September, would be at both national and local level and would share our responsibility for developing the sector.

You can browse today's press release in our virtual press office.

Mentally Healthy Leaders