Here you can find frequently asked questions on the general application process to programmes delivered in 2015-18.

You can also explore the following specific sets of FAQs, related to our investment in 2015-18:
National portfolio and Bridges, Major partner museums, Strategic funding

FAQs: additional application support 2015-18

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What advice can Relationship Managers provide during the application process?

Relationship Managers can clarify application guidance and support organisations to understand the range of funding opportunities that will become available during the period 2015-2018. They will not be able to comment on draft applications, write applications with applicants, or speculate about policy, funding or process developments that have not yet been confirmed. 

Will there be support for organisations who are not successful?

As with the last investment round, we expect some organisations to leave the National portfolio and others to enter. We encourage all applicants to think about what they would do if we cannot award funding. All applicants will be notified by 1 July 2014 of the outcome of their application, giving them 9 months’ notice to prepare for any change. During this period, Relationship Managers will also work with organisations that are set to leave the National portfolio to give them the appropriate support and advice.

How will organisations apply if they are not already in the National portfolio?

We are committed to being open and accessible, and want to make sure our services are accessible to everyone. Applicants not currently in the National portfolio are free to apply if they meet the eligibility criteria. Please read the guidance notes for applicants here.

Individual queries and questions can also be raised with our customer services team. Call 0845 300 6200.

What is the assessment process for applications?

When we receive your application via the online system, our Grant Management team will first check whether it is eligible. It is possible that some applications may not make it through this initial eligibility check. All eligible applications are assessed by a Relationship Manager. We will make our assessment on the basis of the information you provide in your application and any further information that we have specifically requested you to provide. Any applicants who are ineligible at stage 1 will be informed after 4 April 2014.

At the decision stage we will be considering the geographical spread of the National portfolio and take into account the need to support work by a National portfolio of funded organisations across the whole of England. This is done by assessing the application against the balancing criteria and goals. Details of our goals are available in our recently refreshed 10 year strategy Great art and culture for everyone

Organisations will be told the outcome of their application on 1 July 2014.

What is the strategy behind the Arts Council’s decision making?

The application process is based around our strategic framework and our five goals. Details of our goals are available in our recently refreshed 10 year strategy Great art and culture for everyone. All the decisions we make will be relevant to this.

The strategy behind the investment decision making is to create a dynamic portfolio as possible, and in order to do this, we have to be open to change. We have decided that we do not want simply to apply a cut in funding evenly across the organisations we fund, for fear of limiting the work that they originally applied for and we see this application process as an opportunity for new organisations to come into our National portfolio. 

What are the balancing criteria?

In the second stage of our decision making process we will have to decide how well each applicant would fit into a balanced portfolio of funded organisations. In doing this, we have to look at a range of factors and consider if we are achieving the right spread of investment across the arts:

  • 1. Goals                                                                                                                  
  • 2. Diversity                                                                                                             
  • 3. Range of artforms                                                                                                
  • 4. Size and type of organisation                                                                                
  • 5. Geographical spread                                                                                           
  • 6. Risk                                                                                                                  

How will environmental sustainability impact decisions?

We want the models of cultural provision to be financially and environmentally sustainable. All successful applicants will be expected to demonstrate their organisational resilience. During the funding agreement negotiating stage after 1 July 2014, applicants will have to provide a clear business plan setting out how the organisation will strengthen its resilience. We will also require clear plans for environmental sustainability when funding is offered.

How will equality and diversity impact decisions?

Arts Council England is a publically funded and accountable organisation and we have a duty to ensure that our funds are invested prudently, that organisations are well-run and that the work we support observes legal standards on pay and equality.  By diversity we mean the multitude of ethnicities, faiths and socio-economic classes that make up modern England. Our concept of diversity includes disabled people, older people and people of all sexual orientations. The geography of diversity spans England’s regions, from the most rural to the inner city. Arts Council England observes the public sector Equality Duty 2011 and the protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010. We are also committed to promoting equality across differing socio-economic groups.

Diversity is one of our balancing criteria at the decision making stage. Overall, we want our investment in the arts to create the conditions in which there is a diversity of leaders, producers and creators of art and audiences, reflecting the diversity of contemporary England and our commitment to advance members from the protected characteristics. We will also require clear plans for equality and diversity when funding is offered.

For more information see the guidance documents relevant to your application.

Do you expect organisations to use digital technology to reach new audiences?

As part of the application we want to know your plans to incorporate digital technology as an effective means to reach new audiences, We also look to see how effective the proposed use of digital technologies and platforms to capture, create, produce and distribute work is likely to be. 

How will you work with local authorities?

We will work on the ground with local authorities and through our Area office staff and Relationship Managers who will be able to flag up concerns to Area Directors. It is crucial we can gather information from these sources and have conversations as needed.

If you have concerns about local authority support it should be raised with Relationship Managers so we can start to have conversations as early as possible. 

How will you make sure that organisations who lose local authority funding don’t have to survive on too little funding?

In this difficult financial context it is especially important that we ensure a place for arts and culture in every possible stream of funding. Our starting point for discussions with local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships is that we are not prepared to be the last remaining public funder. We will address this on a case by case basis.

What about Local Enterprise Partnerships?

We are working with Local Enterprise Partnerships with a view to agreeing a match funding offer. Further details of the work we are doing can be found here.

How are you planning on using National Lottery funds in the portfolio?

In order to make the most of our available resources we will be using some of our funds from our share of the National Lottery to invest in the portfolio. Some National portfolio organisations will be funded wholly from grant-in-aid and others from Lottery revenue. We will decide how to apply these different revenue streams, but all organisations will be treated exactly the same, irrespective of where their funding comes from.

We are aware that there has been an ongoing debate since the Lottery was established as to what the ‘additionality’ principle is and whether proposed use of Lottery revenue for our regularly funded organisations might breach the principle. We have listened to the current debate and we are confident that the approach we will take will not breach the additionality principle.

We can’t predict which organisations will receive Lottery revenue and at what level until we have seen and assessed the applications.

We have made prudent assumptions about future levels of grant-in-aid and Lottery revenue, but applicants should be aware that if offered funding, the amount for 2016/17 and 2017/18 may have to be varied when we receive our settlement for these two years. Similarly, Lottery resources are dependent on the level of ticket sales by Camelot and decisions on disbursement taken at government level, and our share may increase or decrease in the future.  Any in-year cuts that have to be passed on may be applied to all National portfolio organisations, irrespective of their funding stream.

How will you decide who gets funded from Grant in aid and who gets funded from Lottery?

We will make fair and transparent decisions as to which organisations will be funded from National Lottery funds. We are not yet in a position to clarify our criteria as we have not yet seen the applications. Decisions will be made by our Council in due course. All organisations in the portfolio will go through the same process, and have exactly the same relationship with the Arts Council regardless of whether they’re funded by Lottery or by Grant in aid. 

What if there are further cuts?

If we were faced with further cuts, we would have to consider how to apply this to all the National portfolio organisations (and Major partner museums) regardless of their source of funding.