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See below for our answers to questions around our new National portfolio for 2015-18 and our funding decisions.  Discover more about our Investment for 2015-18 

About the National portfolio

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How many National portfolio organisations will you be funding from 2015-18?

We will have a total of 670 National portfolio organisations with 46 new arts organisations joining the portfolio. Subject to funding agreements, successful applicants to this programme will receive funding from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.

The investment in NPOs for 2015/16 will be £339.5 million, compared to £341.4 million in 2014/15.

The full list of proposed National portfolio organisations is available here.

How many organisations applied?

We received applications from a total of 868 arts organisations.

The success rate for applicants is 76 per cent which compares to the 52 per cent success rate achieved by applications to the 2012/13 to 2014/15 portfolio.

How many were unsuccessful?

We’re in a tough climate for public funding. The Arts Council’s Grant-in-Aid has been cut by 36 per cent since 2010 and as we closed our application process we were already faced with a £70 million gap between our available annual budget and a scale of genuine ambition we could not meet in every case.

We had to make some difficult choices about who we were able to fund and 58 arts organisations have left the national portfolio for 2015-18.

Who made the decisions?

Funding decisions have been made by drawing on detailed regional knowledge, artform expertise, a national overview and a consistent basis across the country against published criteria.

National Council and Area Councils proposed offers are based on assessments and recommendations from Relationship Managers, Area senior management teams, artform directors and the Executive Board.

How have you addressed a geographical balance in funding?

For the next three years we will build on the current trend of 60 per cent of Grant-in-Aid and 70 per cent National Lottery investment outside London whilst continuing to support the incredible offer in London.

There is an overall shift in National portfolio spending - in 2008 this was 51 per cent to London and 49 per cent outside the capital. In 2015/16 this will be 47 per cent in London and 53 per cent outside.

We respond to the applications we receive – and we received a range of applications that in geographic proportion were very similar to the current National portfolio. This means that we have to be realistic about how much change could be achieved in the portfolio.

But geography is just one factor we have to balance to achieve a vibrant arts and cultural ecology, we take many factors into account including artform and the quality of the art and cultural experience produced, diversity, size and type of organisation. Every change within our living, evolving network of artists, cultural organisations and venues is felt widely, so we have to consider it all.

We will also use our Grants for the arts and our Strategic funds as more flexible investments to achieve specific aims, such as building capacity in areas where demand from the public is low. We will weight our Strategic funds to ensure that ambition and talent outside London continues to thrive.

What will happen if the Government reduces funding during 2015-18?

Like all public bodies, we won’t know the level of Grant-in-Aid we will receive in 2016/17 and 2017/18 until after the next general election. This will take place in May 2015.

The level of funding for National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums assumes standstill funding from Government in 2015/16 and 2017/18.

If we were faced with further in year cuts that we had to apply to National portfolio organisations, we’d apply that cut to all our National portfolio organisations (and Major partner museums) regardless of their source of funding. 

How will you be helping organisations who weren't successful?

Many organisations will continue to have a relationship with the Arts Council. We will continue to work with these organisations on their future plans and explore the options that may be available to them. 

What other Arts Council funding can organisations apply for?

The National portfolio is just one of a number of Arts Council England's funding programmes and other options may be suitable to apply for; for example, project funding such as Grants for the arts, or Strategic funds which are specifically related to support our five goals as described in our 10 year strategic framework, Great art and culture for everyone.

What was the application process timescale and how were they assessed?

The application timeline was 10 weeks and closed on 17 March 2014. Every organisation completed the same application form and was assessed according to the same criteria. The principle focus of the application assessment was to see how organisations contribute to Arts Council England’s strategic framework, Great art and culture for everyone, over the period 2015-2018.

We put in place a fair and thorough process for assessing applications and for making what we know will be very difficult decisions. The Arts Council used its expertise to make sound, effective judgments to create a portfolio that offers the best possible artistic and cultural work to audiences across the country.

You can see more about the assessment process here.

Lottery and National portfolio organisations

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How many organisations will be funded from Lottery and how was this decided?

Using National Lottery money will allow an additional number of organisations to join the National portfolio. National Lottery money has been used to fund touring and activity with children and young people within the National portfolio since 2012.

The Arts Council is continuing this principle and 99 organisations whose programmes include a significant element of touring or specific types of organisations working with children and young people will be funded wholly through National Lottery in 2015-18.

All organisations in the National portfolio will have exactly the same relationship with the Arts Council regardless of whether they’re funded by National Lottery or by Grant-in-Aid. 

Will this create a two tier system?

All organisations in the portfolio have gone through the same process, and will have exactly the same relationship with the Arts Council regardless of whether they're funded by National Lottery or by Grant in aid.

If we were faced with further in-year cuts that we had to apply to National portfolio organisations, we'd apply that cut to all our National portfolio organisations (and Major partner museums), regardless of whether their source of funding comes from Lottery or Grant-in-Aid.

What does this mean for the 'additionality' principle?

There has been an on-going debate since the lottery came into being as to what the additionality principle is and how to test whether any proposed funding might breach the principle. The definition agreed with the other Lottery distributors is that: 'Lottery funding is distinct from government funding and adds value. Although it does not substitute for Exchequer expenditure, where appropriate it complements government and other programmes, policies and funding.'

The Arts Council invests Grant in aid and Lottery income to achieve its strategy, Great art and culture for everyone.  Although it does not substitute for government funding, where appropriate National Lottery funding complements government and other programmes, to achieve the greatest possible impact across the whole of the country. 

By using lottery funds to support additional activity we believe that we adhere to the principle of ‘additionality’ that Government funding should be maintained and is an essential part of a mixed funding model.

Investing in museums

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How many museums will you be funding from 2015-18?

We will have a total of 21 Major partner museums in the portfolio. Subject to funding agreements, successful applicants to this programme will receive funding from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.

The investment in museums for 2015/16 will be £22.6 million, compared to £21.5 million in 2014/15. This has allowed us to fund an additional five museums to increase the geographic diversity of the portfolio.

The full list of proposed museums is available here.

What was the application timescale?

The application timeline was 10 weeks and closed on 17 March 2014. Every museum completed the same application form and was assessed according to the same criteria. The principle focus of the application assessment was to see how organisations contribute to Arts Council England’s strategic framework, Great art and culture for everyone over the period 2015-2018.

We put in place a fair and thorough process for assessing applications and for making what we know will be very difficult decisions. The Arts Council used its expertise to make sound, effective judgments to create a portfolio of museums that supports a diverse cultural offer across England. 

How many museums applied to be Major partner museums?

We received 26 Major partner museum applications (4 fewer than last round). All sixteen current MPMs applied again. All of the applications we received were of excellent quality, so obviously some very tough decisions had to be made, based on positive choices made for the benefit of the wider sector as a whole.

How many Major partner museum applications were unsuccessful?

Five were unsuccessful.

What other Arts Council funding can unsuccessful museums apply for?

Major partner museums are only one aspect of our investment in museums. There will also be a museums strategic budget and an open access fund to work alongside Major partner museum funding to target particular challenges, opportunities or gaps.

We want to ensure we are supporting the broadest possible range of museums. We will ensure high quality advice for all Accredited Museums in England through a comprehensive programme of Museum Development.

We will invest at least £10 million per year in this programme per year during for 2015-18.

What's the new open fund for museums?

The open access fund is likely to launch in autumn 2014 and will be open to all Accredited museums, except for National museums and Major partner museums. It will focus on developing resilience and diversity in the sector.

The final budget is likely to be £10 million per annum during 2015-18 with grants awarded between £30,000 to 300,000 between 1-3 years. The details are being finalised at present and will be published in due course. 

Who made the decisions?

Funding decisions have been made by drawing on detailed regional knowledge, artform expertise, a national overview and against published criteria.

National Council and Area Councils proposed offers are based on assessments and recommendations from Relationship Managers, Area senior management teams, artform directors and the Executive Board.

You can see more about the decision making process here.

Tax and theatres

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How will Theatre Tax Relief help support the sector?

In March the Chancellor announced two rates of relief; 25 per cent for touring productions and 20 per cent for all other productions.

It is envisaged that in order to benefit from the tax relief a charity will create a trading subsidiary that is liable for corporation tax through which it will make the production and benefit from any relief. There will be guidance from HMRC in due course.

Arts Council England will support a training programme for the industry which will be delivered by SOLT and UK Theatre in conjunction with the HMRC. These measures were consulted on by HMT in May 2014 and will form part of the Finance Bill 2014 which is currently being debated in Parliament.

For more information you can see our guidance here

Diversity

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How will the arts organisations and museums in the portfolio work towards diversity?

We believe that our national diversity is one of our great strengths and we expect the work we fund to reflect this. We expect that successful applicants to all of our funding will not only observe minimum legal standards but demonstrate a willingness to set high standards of practice.

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.

Our national diversity offers new opportunities for collaboration, from creative partnerships to sources of revenue. This arts-driven concept of diversity as opportunity represents a shift in perspective, from regarding diversity as a prescriptive aspect of equality legislation to understanding its creative potential and the ways in which it can promote long-term organisational resilience. We call this the Creative Case for Diversity.

For some time now our funded organisations have been required to explore how they can engage with diverse audiences, communities, in the development and recruitment of artists, performers and staff, ensuring their work and the way they run their organisation benefits a diverse range of people. 

Find out more about how our portfolio is investing in diversity.

How are your funds supporting the wider diversity of the sector?

We acknowledge that there are issues with the numbers of diverse led organisations in the portfolio and over the next three years we will use strategic funds to address this.

We will use these strategic funds to focus on delivering the Creative Case for Diversity and our equality agenda across all protected characteristics. The fund will focus on artistic excellence, increasing resilience and diversifying audiences, the workforce and the leadership of the arts sector to reflect the diversity of contemporary England.

Strategic Funds

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What strategic funds will be available for 2015-18?

The quality and reach of the National portfolio and Major partner museums, and their commitment to talent development, provide a critical resource for the whole arts and cultural sector. Our Strategic funds work with these organisations and more, and are used to target particular challenges, opportunities or gaps, creating the environment for further development to take place in the arts and culture sector. During 2015/16 the Strategic budgets will total £104 million.

You can read about how our Strategic funds are helping us meet our five strategic goals in detail here.

About Grants for the arts

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When can I apply for Grants for the arts?

Grants for the arts is a rolling fund which is open throughout the year. See the full application pages here.

Our grants are for individuals, organisations involved in arts related activity and other people who use the arts in their work. We can only make grants to individuals and organisations based within the European Union.

Activities we support must be clearly related to the arts and must be project-based, up to a maximum of three years in length. We can normally fund up to 90 per cent of the cost of an activity.

What is the budget for Grants for the arts?

We have increased our Grants for the arts budget from £63 million to £70 million in 2015/16 which will broaden the reach of Arts Council funding to support smaller organisations and individual artists.