The following Strategic funding programmes address our goal of making sure the arts and culture we develop is accessible to audiences across England.

Strategic touring

The current strategic touring fund is designed to encourage collaboration between organisations, so that more people across England experience and are inspired by the arts, particularly in places which rely on touring for much of their arts provision.

The current programme was evaluated after six months, and again after one year.  51 per cent of the funding for the successful projects is reaching local authority  areas in the bottom third for levels of arts engagement.  We will evaluate the fund again later this year and make recommendations for areas of improvement and where the programme could build on successes and deliver even better engagement in 2015-18. We will particularly look at the way that the fund can support more mid-scale theatre touring

We will ensure that this fund makes a significant impact outside of London by establishing appropriate criteria.

We will allocate £23 million to this fund for 2015-18.

Cross border touring

In 1999, an agreement was reached between the Arts Council, Creative Scotland (formerly Scottish Arts Council), Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council of Northern Ireland to enable companies and individuals to undertake cross border touring.  The agreement provides for specified touring on the large scale, an agreed percentage for cross border touring on the small and middle scales and for applications from companies and individuals based in another Arts Council region outside of England. 

We will continue to honour this, and will allocate £1.5 million this fund for 2015-18, with a review of the scheme planned for 2015.

Creative people and places

The Creative people and places fund focuses our investment in parts of the country where people's involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of participation. 

The current fund has invested £37 million over three years in 21 action research partnerships in places of very low engagement. This investment aims to encourage long-term collaborations across the cultural, public and private sector. It aims to empower them to experiment with new and radically different approaches and to develop inspiring, sustainable arts programmes that will engage audiences in those communities.

Funding was earmarked against areas of greatest need, with just over 50% of the money being invested in the North and around 5% in London.  We will continue to ensure that this fund makes a significant impact outside of London by establishing appropriate criteria.

Future funding will be applied in the following three ways: 

  • the 21 places who already receive funding would be eligible to apply for continued funding in 2015-18. Applicants were originally asked to submit a plan for a ten-year vision, and they will need to be able to show progress against the aims of the programme in order to be considered for this funding
  • we will create an opportunity for other places of low engagement to take some of the lessons learned in the previous rounds of the fund and apply them in their own contexts
  • we will identify high impact strategic partnerships where commissioned funds offer the opportunity to bring about a step change for older people (65 plus) accessing great art and culture

We will allocate £20 million to this fund for 2015-18.

In addition, exceptionally, we will allocate £5 million to the fund in 2018-19, enabling us to announce a fund of £25 million. 

Creative media: production, distribution and skills

We will work with a range of partners (including Channel 4, the British Film Institute (BFI), the BBC, The Knowledge Transfer Network, Technology Strategy Board (TSB), and Google)  who will provide match funding and expertise to help us support the arts and cultural sector in bringing high quality digital cultural content and experiences to audiences in new ways.  This will include funding to enable more excellent live art to be captured and distributed digitally as well as a new network of regional development centres nurturing young artist film makers.  

We will also support new digital opportunities for artists, for example those looking to explore the commercial potential of new creative technologies and those who wish to develop creative documentary for cinema and multi-platform distribution in the UK and internationally. 

In association with these programmes, we will also look at opportunities to support digital skills development for arts and cultural organisations, particularly in the areas of need identified through the annual Digital Culture survey that we have commissioned in partnership with Nesta and the AHRC. 

We will allocate £10 million to this activity for 2015-18.

Audience focus

The current Audience focus fund is designed to help funded organisations understand, retain and grow their audiences. It prioritises the kinds of large scale activity that goes beyond anything that a single organisation would be able to achieve.

The current fund has supported the development of three major collaborations: 

  • the creation of the first national cross-artform audience data sharing initiative, Audience Finder
  • establishing the national arts family friendly campaign
  • establishing the online resource CultureHive, and associated training programme around best practice in marketing and audience development

The 2015-18 programme will focus on:

  • continued support for the collaborations detailed above
  • R&D funding to respond to specific data and digital challenges identified by the Arts Council and the sector 

We will allocate £4.15 million to this fund for 2015-18.