ACE announces budgets for 2018-22 cycle of investment that will increase funds outside the capital

Main Image: left National Centre for Circus Arts by Bertill Nilsonn. Right Birmingham Weekender by Andrew Fox

Arts Council England today announces budgets for its 2018 to 2022 investment period, alongside sector guidance for applying to its National Portfolio

But spreadsheets may have to be revisited if financial picture deteriorates in future says Chief Executive

ACE has set a budget of £622m per year across lottery and grant in aid for its three main funding streams: the National Portfolio, Grants for Arts and Culture and strategic funds.

This announcement follows changes recently made to ACE’s investment process, following a consultation with the sector. The changes include; museums and libraries funding being integrated across the Arts Council’s investment programmes; funding agreements being lengthened from three to four years, to allow organisations to plan for the future, and funding bands being introduced into the National Portfolio so that those in receipt of the highest levels of public funding are required to do more to meet the ACE Strategic goals.

Darren Henley, ACE’s Chief Executive said the budget is based on a welcome standstill settlement from government and it plans to spend down current lottery reserves.  However, he also warned that ACE had been ambitious in its plans and the funding position remains very tight and it would have to ‘revisit the spreadsheets’ if the financial picture deteriorated in the future.

“We’ve planned a budget that lets us reach more people in new ways,” he said. “We’ll increase investment outside London without damaging the capital; fund more new, small and diverse organisations.  And museums, libraries and arts organisations will apply to us on a more level playing field. Everybody deserves to benefit from Arts Council investment, wherever they are, whatever their background. Our plans through to 2022 show we mean it when we talk about great art and culture for everyone.”

National Portfolio (NPO)

A budget of £409 million will be available each year between 2018-22. This will include £341 million of grant-in-aid and £68 million of National Lottery funding.

An increase of £37 million per annum on the previous investment period (2015-18) will be used to help support the Arts Council’s ambition of achieving a 4% points uplift in the proportion of the NPO budget spent outside London; support the integration of museums and libraries, for arts and museums’ activity into our portfolio; and bring new, small and diverse organisations into the portfolio.

Grants for Arts and Culture

The open access funding stream will see an increase in budget of £10 million per annum to £87.5 million during this investment round.

The increase will help support the integration of museums and libraries, who will now be able to apply to this funding stream for museums’ activity for the first time. It will also continue to help support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations.

Strategic funds

Investment will remain broadly the same at £125 million per annum.  The Arts Council’s strategic funds will continue to address gaps in the sector, such as enhancing diversity and increasing the reach of art and cultural activity in areas with low levels of engagement.

Announcing our proposed budgets allows the sector to consider the full range of funding opportunities available to them ahead of the NPO application portal opening on 26 October. The budgets remain subject to a future grant in aid settlement from government and fluctuations in National Lottery income. Organisations will be welcomed into the national portfolio for four years though the Arts Council will only be able to confirm levels of funding for 2018/19 and 2019/20.

The application portal for the National Portfolio will open on 26 October 2016 and briefings for those who may wish to apply are taking place across the country from tomorrow.