This ArtMakers introduction to Government Arts Funding in the UK provides an overview of the current funding available via the various Arts Councils, and other publicly funded bodies.
For an insight into Charitable support and other forms of finance for artists and makers please see ArtMakers ‘Funds for Artists and Makers Charities – grants for individuals’,ADD LINK and ‘Funds for Artist and makers – Other Finance Options’.ADD LINK
For more ArtMakers information sheets, access to masterclasses, peer to peer support and other forms of artist support please REGISTER with ArtMakers. ADD LINK
Public money i.e. money raised through largely taxation, has been spent by successive government on various aspects of the arts in the UK. During 2020, as a response to the Covid crisis £1.57b was given as a support package to arts organisations.
However, the key word in this last statement is ‘organisations’ from museums and libraries to the National Galleries and Universities these major arts bodies received most of the monies from the various Covid funds, as they had prior to the crisis. In addition, nearly half of the visual arts organisations supported in England are based in London, though some obviously have a national reach.
The main organisations involved in the allocation of government arts funding are the Department for Culture Media and Science (DCMS), the government department responsible for the arts, and various Arts Councils, the government supported funding bodies across the UK..
Here is a breakdown of the Arts Council funding in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Arts Council England(ACE) is responsible for direct government funds, and for funds allocated from the National Lottery. Between 2018 and 2022, ACE was projected to invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery.
Currently ACE aims to allocate its funds until 2022 in the following way.
- £407 million per year in 828 arts organisations, museums and libraries in our National Portfolio. This will include £336 million of grant-in-aid and £71 million of National Lottery funding.
- £97.3 million of National Lottery funding per year in Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, their open-access funding programme.
- £72.2 million per year in Arts Council Development Funds which will focus on diversity, resilience, innovation in business models, leadership development and creating more pathways for a wider range of people to become part of the arts and culture sector.
Within these big overall sums the key funds for individual artist and makers are:-
Developing Your Creative Practice. “This programme will give individuals the opportunity to apply for £2,000 to £10,000, to take a dedicated period of time to focus on their own cultural and creative development, and take them to the next stage in their practice.” It supports creatives in the following art forms and disciplines – Music• Theatre• Dance• Visual Arts• Literature• Libraries• Combined Arts• Museums practice.
Lottery project Grants. An “open access programme for arts, museums and libraries projects. The fund supports thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations.” Grants range from £1,000 to £100,000.
NOTE: This version of the fund is only open until 31 August 2021. A new version will be published for funding after this date.
You can apply HERE https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/projectgrants
An Example of a successful applications:
As a mid-career Devon-based ceramic artist, the funding enabled her to work on her creative and artistic development without the pressure of making commercial sales. The Dead Dad Book is based on research into the life of Vicky’s late father, Michael Anthony (Mick) Lindo, who travelled alone to England from Jamaica as part of the Windrush Generation, when he was just 11 years-old. The project is particularly relevant to audiences that have experienced family fragmentation, addiction or alcoholism.
Zoe Garner – Developing my practice in neon and glass lathe work, £9,917 https://www.zoegarner.co.uk/
Using Glass as a predominant medium Zoe is interested in symmetrical form, reflection, magnification and the use of Scientific theory to create illusion, exploring visual language questioning what is really real. Zoe has been a practicing artist since 1997 and has exhibited her work internationally.
Scotland has its own national arts funding body Creative Scotland, which operates in a similar way to ACE in England. However, the big difference is that they have rolling funding programmes which you are able to apply to at any time.
Review their current funding programmes HERE https://www.creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes
The most important for individual artists and makers is the ‘Open Fund’.
The fund aims to enable individuals and organisations to explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the current changing circumstances. You can apply for between £1k and £100k
The overall budget for the Open Fund for Individuals and the Open Fund for Organisations totals £7.5m of National Lottery money.
Details of the Open Fund can be found HERE https://www.creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes/open-fund-sustaining-creative-development
They also regularly fund 121 organisations on a three year programme, supported by £101.6m Grant in Aid from Scottish Government.
The Arts Council of Wales provides a lottery Funded programme for individuals and organisations called Create. It provides
“opportunities for individuals and organisations to produce and present their best work. This can mean funding the production and presentation of work, the development of new ideas and / or supporting individual or organisations to develop through training or business growth and change.”
Funding options range from £5000 to £50,000, with up to £100,000 being available for organisations in exceptional circumstances.
Look at the details for Create HERE https://arts.wales/create
At the time of writing the Arts Council of Northern Ireland had closed all its funds for individuals and organisations.
It is possible to review any further developments HERE http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding
Local Government Funding
The range of funding available from local government sources e.g. Metropolitan Authorities, County, District and City Councils is as varied as the areas they represent.
To give you some idea of the range of funds available across the UK here are a few examples.
In Aberdeen there are Visual Artists and Craft Maker Bursaries of £500 and £750 available – https://www.creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes/funds-delivered-by-partners/visual-arts-and-crafts-awards
In Conwy there are the Conwy Arts Trust Awards of up to £1000 – https://www.conwyartstrust.org/news/small-grants-fund
In Newtownards Individual grants up to £250, and organisation grants up to £1000 are available https://www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/resident/grants/arts-grants
In Bristol there are three arts funds operated by the City Council, originators, Imagination, and Openness ranging in scale from £500 – £40,000 details available here https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/arts-and-culture-funding
Newcastle City Council has set up a Cultural Investment Fund managed by the Community Foundation it awards £600,000 a year with project grants up to £10,000. Details are available HERE https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/givingandphilanthropy/collective-giving/newcastle-culture-investment-fund/
I hope this gives you some idea of the options operating across the UK. In order to find out what is available in your city or area check out the local council site/s. Here is a list of contact websites to start you off on your search.
You will find all the online contact details for English and Welsh Councils HERE
You will find contact details for Scotland’s local authorities HERE
You might be able to find the Local Council contact details in Norther Ireland HERE https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/
However, at the time of writing the link to the list on the Northern Ireland government’s site was not working.
In some areas reviews of cultural strategy are under way following the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic e.g. Derry City and Strabane’s District Arts & Cultural Strategy 2019-2024 – https://www.derrystrabane.com/Services/Arts-and-Culture/Arts-Culture-Strategy-2019-2024
It is important as local artists and makers you participate in this type of consultation, and strategy, or your voice will probably not be heard, and funds will not be made available to support you.
I hope you have found this useful.