Programme - general

Q1: How much funding is available and over what period?

A: £243.6 million has been budgeted for capital over the four-year period from National Lottery funding. 

Large capital grants

The large capital programme for grants above £500,000 has a budget of £219.6 million from 2011/12 to 2013/14. The budget will be managed as a series of rounds with the budget divided as follows:

  • 2011/12 - £114.6 million (now closed)
  • 2012/13 - £50 million (now closed)
  • 2013/14 - £55 million (now open)

Small capital grants

£24 million has been budgeted for small capital grants between £100,000 and £499,999 over the same period, but available in two rounds:

  • Round 1 (2012/13) - £12 million (now closed)
  • Round 2, 2013/14 - £12 million (now open)

Q2: How many projects do you expect to fund?

A: We cannot speculate the number of projects we will fund until we know the details of the applications. Due to the limited funds available we are unlikely to invite more than a small number of projects to make stage two applications in each round.

Q3: How big are the grants being awarded in the large capital programme?

A: Organisations can apply to the large capital programme for grants of £500,000 or more. Grants in excess of £5 million are likely to be exceptional.

We expect organisations to attract other sources of income and would normally expect to fund no more than 70% of the total cost, and in most cases substantially less.

Q4: What do you mean by a balance of projects?

A: We are aiming to support a mix of projects of varying sizes and delivery timescales, though this is of course subject to the proposals we receive. We have limited funds available and expect there to be significant demand for investment meaning there will be good applications we are unable to support.

Q5: If someone comes to you with a really exciting project which includes constructing a new building, is there any chance you would fund it?

A: Our previous capital programmes attempted to address the decades of underinvestment in the arts infrastructure of England. This programme however will prioritise the consolidation and improvement of existing buildings and equipment rather than investing in significant expansion or new infrastructure, helping organisations to develop resilience and become more sustainable and innovative businesses. This includes increasing the environmental performance of buildings to support the reduction in carbon emissions in the arts sector.

There may however be exceptional circumstances where we grant permission for this type of project but our budget for this programme is limited and will be very much focused on improving existing buildings.

Applications for new buildings for the arts are ineligible unless we have agreed in writing beforehand. A project of this nature will need to demonstrate the long-term effect it would have on the organisation, including how any additional running costs will be met in the longer term.

Q6: What kind of improvements do you think will improve resilience and sustainability?

A: We expect projects to include a range of capital expenditure.  This could include, for example, improvements that enable organisations to reconfigure current spaces to generate more income, install sustainable technologies to reduce energy demand or to improve current facilities to enable improved delivery of their work for artists and audiences. 

Q7: Is this the best time to invest in capital? Wouldn't the funding be better used being invested in core funding for arts organisations?

A: This capital programme will be funded from our lottery income, demonstrating how we are using our lottery funding flexibly alongside grant-in-aid investment.

The capital programme is one of a number of measures we are putting in place to help create a more sustainable, resilient and innovative arts sector - one of the five goals set out in Achieving great art for everyone, our 10-year strategic framework for the arts. This is something we feel is even more important in the current funding climate.

We feel it's vital that as well as investing in core costs and artistic programmes, we support the improved resilience and sustainability of the existing arts infrastructure.

Q8: How will you ensure organisations won't need more revenue funding once their building is completed?

A: We want to ensure that projects we support are financially viable. Applicants are asked to consider the impact of any capital project on their organisation and its activities, both during the project and on its completion.

Q9: How is this different to capital programmes of the past?

A: Our previous capital programmes attempted to address the decades of underinvestment in the arts infrastructure of England by investing in major refurbishments and entirely new buildings where access and engagement in the arts was limited.

This programme represents a new approach to using our capital funds, with investment focused on improving existing arts buildings to make them more economically and environmentally sustainable and to give arts organisations the right buildings and equipment to support the delivery of their work.

Q10: When will the next round of applications for large capital grants be open?

A: Our third round is now open for applications until 10am on 12 December 2013, with a fourth round to follow in 2014/15.

Eligibility, application and assessment

Q11: Is the scheme only open to National portfolio organisations?

A: If you are not in our National portfolio you can apply but must first seek written permission from your regional Arts Council office. We are only likely to agree if you can demonstrate your project will make a significant contribution to achieving great art for everyone.

Our National portfolio represents the bedrock of our support for the arts in England and this programme is an important way of helping make the portfolio of organisations we fund more sustainable and resilient.

Q12: Can museums and libraries apply?

A: Whilst we have taken on new functions relating to the museums and libraries sector, our lottery funding is provided to benefit the arts in England.

As the funding for our capital programme is provided from lottery sources, museums and libraries can only apply if they are able to demonstrate that their project outcomes will contribute to the original strategic framework, Achieving great art for everyone.

Museums and libraries looking to apply to the scheme must seek written permission from their regional Arts Council office.

Q13: How do organisations apply?

A: We have published full guidance for applicants on our large capital grant funding pages. You are advised to read this guidance and contact your regional Arts Council office before applying.

You must apply via the online application portal.

Q14: What are the stages of the application process for large capital grants?

A: There are two stages to the applications process:

  • Stage one- You must complete an online application form telling us about your proposed capital project, the amount of funding you would like and how your project will contribute to our long-term goals for the arts. We will then assess your application and let you know whether you have successfully made it to stage two of the application process. We will also indicate how much funding we have provisionally set aside for your project.
  • Stage two- If you are invited to stage two you will need to complete a second application to secure the funding we have set aside. This application can be submitted at any time within 18 months of our stage one decision so you can develop your application to meet our stage two requirements. Section six of the guidance provides further details.

Q15: Why are there two stages?

A: The application process has two stages so we can:

  • assess planned projects at stage one before you spend the time and expense working up a more detailed application
  • provide you with an indication of the amount of funding to apply for at stage two, to help you plan your project and support your discussions with other funders or stakeholders
  • assess stage two applications at a well-developed stage so that we can ensure projects will be well managed, financially viable and sustainable in the longer term, without the need for unplanned capital or revenue
  • plan and allocate our resources appropriately

Q16: How will you decide which applications go through to stage two?

A: We will make our decisions based on the published criteria set out in the application guidance.

Applications will first be assessed on their individual merits against these criteria.

It is likely that there will be more applications that meet these criteria than available funding. To decide which applications progress to stage two, we will consider the following three areas to balance the projects funded against the available budget in each round:

  • timescales- we will take into account the need to achieve a range of projects with varying delivery timescales, and timescales for spending any grant from us
  • partnership funding- the extent to which the projects overall will secure funding from other sources
  • risk- the extent of the risks to the overall balance of projects

Q17: Who will make a decision on applications?

A: Final decisions will be made by the Arts Council.

Q18: When will you decide and announce who has gone through to stage two for large capital grants?

A: We will let organisations know by early July 2014 if they will be invited to make a stage two application.

Q19: How will you assess if an organisation is capable of delivering a project?

A: Part of the stage one assessment is about whether an organisation has the capacity, skills and experience to deliver the project proposed, with organisations asked to provide evidence of this in their application.

If you are invited to make a stage two application for a large capital grant, we will ask you to provide details of how the project will be managed and the controls that will be in place to ensure it meets the timetable and budget. This gives us a clear picture of whether you are capable of delivering the project before significant funds are awarded.

Q20: How much funding will be available after stage one so organisations can prepare for stage two?

A: We recognise that putting together a stage two application could be costly.

If successful at stage one, we may award development funding on a case by case basis to help organisations undertake the work required to develop their project to be ready for submission at stage two.

Organisations are able to request a development grant as part of their stage one application.