Your area and the National Portfolio

Posted By Arts Council England on 28 June 2017

In the second in our series of blogs about the National Portfolio Organisations for 2018-22, we discuss how this investment will benefit different areas of the country.

Our mission is great art and culture for everyone. When we say ‘everyone’ that includes all ages, genders, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and (most important for this blog) locations; we’re committed to providing great arts and culture experiences to people across the country.

Two performers wearing masks perform in a grand hall
Finding Joy by Vamos Theatre, who work with rural audiences in Worcestershire. Photo: Vamos Theatre / alienpen

When we were deciding which organisations would be part of the new National Portfolio, a vital part of the process was what we call ‘balancing’. First each application was assessed on its own merits, then those that were recommended went to the balancing stage.

In this stage our area and national councils (made up of members who work in the arts and culture sector) ensured that – where possible, given the applications we received – our funding was spread across a variety of different artforms, museums and libraries in different areas. This is intended to give as many people as possible the chance to experience a wide range of art and culture in their local area.

Listen to our podcast where we discuss the balancing process:

Compared to the previous National Portfolio, for 2018-22 we’ve increased funding to areas outside London by £170 million. This will reach many areas that previously haven’t seen this type of investment, like Torbay and Reading.


No. of funding agreements*

Total investment



£647.9 million



£277.1 million



£403.6 million

South East


£160.7 million

South West


£112.8 million



£35.1 million



£1.6 billion

*We’re funding 831 organisations in total – some have more than one funding agreement, for different areas of work.

We’re also funding organisations that have a big impact on rural communities, who otherwise might not get to experience art and culture in their area – these include the National Rural Touring Forum, Vamos Theatre (Worcestershire), Metro-Boulot-Dodo (Rutland), Invisible Dust (North Yorkshire) and Applause Rural Touring (South East).

Four young people stand against a purple wall holding guitars
Plymouth Music Zone will join the portfolio in 2018, as part of an investment in this key area. Photo: Kevin Clifford

The National Portfolio investment will also help drive economic growth in key areas. Plymouth Culture will provide infrastructure and partnerships for organisations in the city to work together. The new combined authority in Tees Valley has seen the value of culture to create economic impact, through both the creative industries and tourism.

We’re also investing in arts and culture organisations that are part of universities, which are important anchors in driving local economies, training the workforce and providing the facilities and talent for R&D and innovation.

A group of performers in a stadium hold collections of black floating balloons aloft
The Creative People and Places project Heart of Glass in St Helens, Merseyside, is joining the National Portfolio in 2018. Photo: Stephen King

While the National Portfolio represents a significant portion of our funding, it’s not the end of the story. A number of our strategic funds (which are targeted to address particular issues or needs) are focused on providing arts and culture to areas and audiences where it’s currently lacking. Current examples are Strategic Touring and Creative People and Places.

We’ll talk more about our strategic funds, which are largely funded by money from the National Lottery, in a later blog – so watch this space.

Whether you live in the north or the south, the countryside or the city, a seaside town or a leafy suburb, we’re working hard to make sure that our funding brings great art and culture to your area.

Find out more

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