Like our other strategic funding programmes, grant commissions will enable the Arts Council to achieve its priorities set out in Great art and culture for everyone.

Grant commissions are a new way of doing things for the Arts Council. This approach enables organisations to apply to deliver a particular piece of work detailed in a specific brief given by the Arts Council. These grants will draw on knowledge and expertise from England’s fast growing creative economy to help achieve the Arts Council’s goals and priorities.

Unlike the strategic funding grant programmes, where the Arts Council defines the outcomes we wish to see but not necessarily how to achieve them, we will define the outcomes to be achieved with grant commissions and also be specific about how those outcomes should be achieved.

Our current grant commissions are:

  • Audience focus - a £7.5 million fund from which we will commission work to make the arts more audience focused, and invest in initiatives that increase, widen and sustain audiences and visitors for the arts, museums and libraries
  • Artsmark delivery - an open selection process was launched to find a national provider to continue to develop and deliver the Artsmark scheme as it extends to cover our new responsibilities for museums and libraries
  • Cultural commissioning - we are investing up to £895,000 a three-year national programme which will help organisations and artists engage with strategic commissioning opportunities in the public service sector
  • Creative people and places - a £37 million 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 
  • Developing resilient leadership - a £1.8 million fund to support the personal and professional development of cultural leaders. It aims to foster a strong national network of individuals who work collaboratively for more resilient cultural organisations and deeper local engagement 
  • Transforming arts fundraising - part of the wider £100 million Catalyst scheme. Transforming arts fundraising will support activity which aims to professionalise arts sector fundraising across England while improving perceptions of the arts as a charitable cause among potential and existing donors
  • In Harmony - a national programme to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities by using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making. We have commissioned four organisations/partnerships to deliver four new In Harmony projects between 2012 and 2015
  • New Dance Strategic Body - we are investing £650,000 a year in a three year commissioned grant for a ground breaking consortium bringing four leading dance organisations together to create a unified “go-to” industry body. The investment will deliver a programme developing talent and excellence in: education; youth dance; dance of the African diaspora; performance, health and well-being; management, leadership and career development. The four organisations are: Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD), Dance UK, National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA) and Youth Dance England (YDE). 
  • National Youth Dance Company - created in response to the recommendation in Darren Henley's review of cultural education to set up a national youth dance company. The successful applicant will receive £400,000 a year, over the next three years, to run the company
  • Momentum music fund - a pilot intended to test a small grants scheme for early to mid-career musicians broadly operating in the contemporary popular music sector of the music industry
  • State of the Arts - the commission of a delivery partner to produce a large scale State of the Arts TEDx event for the arts and cultural sector between October 2013 and February 2014. The event was be joint-funded by Arts Council England and the British Council with a grant totalling £160,000
  • Strategic investment in theatre in Exeter - a programme to support the provision of high quality theatre in Exeter
  • North Area Jazz Development Programme - a commission to develop jazz across the North East, North West and Yorkshire
  • 2013 Britten Centenary commissioned grant - a commission to deliver a a national celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth

Assessment criteria

There will be three common areas of assessment for grant commissions:

  • How well does the application meet the brief?
  • How strong is the management of activity?
  • How financially viable is the application?


Decisions will normally be made by Management Committee in line with their delegated levels of authority and existing Terms of Reference.  

Decisions over the value of £3 million will be made by National Council or a sub-committee of Council.


Commissioned funds applicants can contact our Enquiries team for advice and support.


Any complaints regarding grant decisions under this process will be handled through our existing standard complaints procedure.

Solicitation policy

If the Arts Council does not receive applications that address all our strategic needs, we may need to solicit applications to this fund as a last resort. This will be in line with our solicitation policy. We will be open and transparent about when we solicit and will ensure that all solicited and unsolicited applications go through the same assessment and decision making process.

Read the policy