Welcome to the National Portfolio

Posted By Darren Henley on 26 June 2017

Our Chief Executive, Darren Henley, welcomes 831 organisations to the 2018-22 portfolio. Stay tuned to the blog this week and next for a series of posts on the new portfolio, including discussion of the organisations in your area, diversity, National Lottery investment, art forms and the new Sector Support Organisations.

Today, we announced our new National Portfolio for 2018-22 - a fresh, ambitious and wide-ranging group of organisations that we believe will bring new energy to the arts and cultural sector, while reaching more people in more places than ever before.

In all, 831 organisations will receive a total of £1.6 billion over four years for 844 projects. Importantly, we’ll be investing £170 million more outside London and there will be significantly increased investment in places like Reading, Bradford, Plymouth, Northumberland and Stoke.

Dancers perform in a white room
Dancers from Corali, one of the new portfolio members, perform The People Race the Fish. Photo © Hydar Dewachi

The National Portfolio includes organisations across England of all sizes and scales, with museums and libraries coming into the portfolio for the first time.  Some organisations are well-established nationally or internationally, like the Royal Shakespeare Company, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, the Royal Philharmonic and theatre company Punchdrunk.

Other portfolio organisations are just starting out, like the Factory – a major new international arts venue in Manchester. It will be exciting to see how the 183 organisations joining the portfolio grow and develop.

The new members include small organisations like Corali, a dance company of performers with learning disabilities, and The NewBridge Project, a vibrant community that supports talent development for individual artists. Larger organisations include Without Walls, a consortium that creates extraordinary outdoor work.

There will be 72 museums and seven libraries in the portfolio, including The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, the Bowes Museum in Teesdale, the Tank Museum in Dorset and library services in Barking and Dagenham, Suffolk and St Helens.

A large room filled with tanks
The Tank Museum in Dorset, one of the new portfolio members. Photo © Rosalind Skellorn

We’ve focused on ensuring that this is a diverse portfolio that will produce work relevant to the world we live in, as well as supporting fresh talent and artists from many different backgrounds and representing different perspectives. The arts, and society generally, urgently need to draw on the huge resources of our national diversity.

In 2016 we established the Elevate fund to prepare organisations keen to become part of the 2018-22 portfolio. We’re very pleased that of the 40 successful applicants to Elevate, 20 will now become portfolio members – including Ballet Black and Venture Arts, which champions the work of learning disabled visual artists.

Two ballet dancers perform in front of a blue backdrop
Dancers from Ballet Black, one of the new portfolio members, perform To Begin, Begin. Photo © Bill Cooper

This portfolio has emerged from an exhaustive and rigorous process, from initial consultations with the sector, through to the final balancing decisions. Financially, we’ve committed all we can to this new portfolio because we believe that this is the right time. Up and down England there are organisations, villages, towns and cities that will benefit hugely from this investment.

We have supported more organisations than ever before, but of course there have been hard decisions to make – often between applicants of great merit. We are fortunate to have such a variety and quantity of talent in our country.

I hope that those who have not made the portfolio on this occasion will be encouraged to come back next time. In the meantime they may find that we have other funding streams that are suitable for them, such as Grants for the Arts.

To those who have entered the portfolio: welcome. You are collectively embarking on a creative journey, which will bring some profound and positive changes to our arts and cultural sector and its relationship with the public.

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