Please note: the application guidance to the right of this page was updated in January 2014. Please ensure you are using this version of guidance.

Arts Council England funds a range of programmes designed to deliver the ambitions set out in Great art and culture for everyone, our strategic framework for the arts and culture. However, we recognise that, on occasion, arts organisations may wish to respond to a one-off opportunity to create a project that is of such ambition that it sits outside the normal programme of the organisation and does not fit into existing Arts Council funding routes.

We have therefore decided to make a very few Exceptional awards of more than £50,000 to fund projects making a significant additional contribution to helping the Arts Council deliver its strategic vision of Great art and culture for everyone, through at least one of our five goals. The projects we fund will probably have national (and even international) impact in terms of outcomes.  

It is likely that we will make fewer than 25 Exceptional awards before 31 March 2015. This means that there will be many good ideas and opportunities that we cannot help to realise, given our limited resources at this time.

We will only award funding to organisations that demonstrate they have the capacity to deliver new outcomes without putting at risk existing delivery commitments. We do not expect to fund more than one proposal from a single organisation.

The vast majority of our funding will continue to be awarded through existing programmes. Details of these can be found at www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/apply-for-funding/  

Find out about the Exceptional Awards that have been made so far.

Telling us about your idea

If you believe you have an idea which fits the bill and meets all of the eligibility criteria, please tell us about it by completing the online form, which will give you the opportunity to describe your idea in no more than 200 words. 

If we think that your idea could make a significant additional contribution helping the Arts Council deliver its strategic vision through at least one of our five goals, we will invite you to make an application within four weeks. 

If we decide not to follow up your idea you will be informed within four weeks, but we are unable to give feedback on, or engage in a discussion about, why your idea is not being taken forward.

As well as the eligibility criteria below, if you are a National Portfolio Organisation, we will also take into account your current performance when deciding whether or not to invite an application. If we decide not to follow up your idea you will be unable to resubmit it to Exceptional awards.

Invitation to apply

If we invite you to make an application you will need to submit it within four weeks of being invited to do so. We advise that you develop your idea sufficiently before making the initial submission so you can make a full application within the four-week deadline. All applications will be subject to rigorous assessment, and even if we are able to offer you an application form on the basis of your idea, there is no guarantee of funding. 

If invited to apply, you can apply for funding above £50,000. Although we anticipate it is unlikely we will make awards of over £250,000, we may consider applications above this level for a project that is genuinely exceptional in its ambition and which will make a significant additional contribution to helping the Arts Council deliver its strategic vision, through at least one of the Arts Council’s five goals.

You cannot make an application for an Exceptional award without an invitation from us to do so, on the basis of an idea you have told us about via the online form.