Arts Council England: New Grants For 122 Visual Arts Organisations

Arts Council England

Arts Council England has announced details of its investment plans for the next three years 2015-2018 including its new national portfolio of arts organisations and museums representing a major public investment in England’s arts and culture. 670 arts organisations (NPOs) and 21 Major Partner Museums (MPMs) have received funding. 46 arts organisations join the portfolio and 58 leave. 5 new museums are added to the portfolio ensuring a wider geographic spread. The investment in NPOs for 2015/16 will be £339.5million, compared to £341.4m in 2014/15. The MPM budget has increased to £22.6 million in 2015/16 from £21.5 million; an increase of £1.1 million. An increase to the Grants for the Arts budget to £70m in 2015/16, from £63m in 2014/15. These increases will lead to a reduction in Strategic funds for the arts overall- a budget of £104m per annum from £153m in 2014/15. This investment in NPOs and MPMs assumes standstill funding from Government in years 15/16 and 17/18.

There are 122 visual arts organisations in the 2015-18 portfolio, encompassing major regional galleries and small artist-led projects, studios and production agencies. The portfolio is predominantly made up of smaller organisations, with approximately half receiving an annual grant of £150,000 or less, and only eight with annual grants of more than £1 million. The visual arts portfolio provides some of the best public reach of any artform. In this round we have maintained an infrastructure of regional galleries that have seen audiences for art triple in the last decade.

One surprize in the announcement is that Axisweb has lost its NPO status. The organisation provides a curated online showcase for UK contemporary art and helps artists with their career developement.

Sheila McGregor, director of Axisweb, said: “The news comes as a huge disappointment, but we are encouraged by the positive assessment our application received and look forward to working with ACE staff to secure the organisation’s future.” 

The Axisweb site stated; “Over the coming months both Axisweb board and staff will be rigorously pursuing all options to adapt our business model to a reduction in our revenue funding. In the meantime, it will be business as usual for Axisweb.”

It’s our vision that creative talent should flourish across the nation. The portfolio takes a proactive role in supporting contemporary artists and makers, and reflects our desire to develop local talent – and to ensure it can be retained locally. In cities like Nottingham or areas like the East Kent coast, internationally significant galleries underpin growing clusters of creative activity.

 The Council are making new investments in, among others, the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, Spike Island in Bristol, BALTIC 39 in Newcastle and the William Morris Gallery in east London and the Design Museum, to support artist and designer development initiatives at both regional and national levels. Investment in organisations like Grizedale Arts and also Bristol’s Situations will support artists to play a stronger civic role.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair Arts Council England said: “We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio.”

“With 46 new entrants to the National Portfolio, with increased funding for Grants for the Arts, and with Creative People and Places being maintained at its current level over the next period, this settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England’s arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done.”

For the next three years we will build on the current trend of 60% of Grant in aid and 70% National Lottery investment outside London whilst continuing to support the incredible offer in London.There is an overall shift in National portfolio spending- in 2008 this was 51% to London and 49% outside the capital. In 2015/16 this will be 47% in London and 53% outside. £15m for a new Strategic fund will be invested in retaining talent and boosting production outside the capital. £25m more will be invested in Creative People and Places. With 5 new MPMs their budget will increase by £11m over 2015-18 to introduce a wider geographical spread.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive Arts Council England said: “We have produced a connected mix of organisations who can produce excellent work that will engage and succour audiences nationwide. This portfolio is about investment in new talent whilst supporting stability and continuity.  “The portfolio should be viewed alongside our strategic funds and Grants for the Arts – these will fund added ambition and reach in a sector that has shown it is hungry to do more and audiences that have shown they are hungry for great cultural experiences.  “But we mustn’t forget that sustaining the National Portfolio comes at a real price in terms of the reduced size of our investment in these other areas over the next three years. We have increased Grants for the Arts, but have cut things like capital spending significantly. The long term health of our arts and culture depends on continued commitment from central and local government to invest in our sector.”


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