Arts charities can apply for shares of £160m of emergency Arts Council funding

ACE is making £90m available to organisations it already funds and £50m to other arts bodies

Arts charities can seek financial support
Arts charities can seek financial support

Arts charities in England will have the opportunity to apply for a share of £160m in emergency funding as part of a Covid-19 support package launched by Arts Council England.

The grant-maker announced yesterday that it would be making £90m available to national portfolio organisations – those it already funds – and £50m to other arts organisations. 

The remaining £20m will be available for artists’ benevolent funds in grants of up to £4m, and for individual artists and practitioners in grants of up to £2,500. 

A timetable for the grant application process for non-national-portfolio organisations and benevolent funds will be published on the ACE website on 30 March, and national portfolio organisations will be contacted by ACE directly.

ACE said in a statement that it would also postpone the process for charities to apply to become part of its national portfolio of funded organisations for the next four-year cycle, which was due to take place in September. Instead, it said, its current allocation would be rolled over for an additional year. 

“The financial crisis is acute for the cultural sector,” the statement said. “Evidence shows that closures and cancelled contracts are causing massive and unsustainable loss of revenues.

“The measures we announce today are intended to support individuals and organisations and help them develop creative responses to the Covid-19 crisis, to buoy the public during the period of lockdown.”

“The Arts Council’s sole priority at this time is to use its financial resources to support artists and creative practitioners, museums, libraries and arts organisations so that they can continue to serve our communities during this crisis and reboot creatively after it is over.”

To fund the package, ACE said, it would draw down “the majority of our emergency reserves” and would cancel and reallocate its National Lottery Project Grants funding stream, a move it said it was doing “with regret”.

“Every year, our National Lottery Project Grants are a vital source of income, especially for individuals and smaller organisations,” the statement said. 

“However, at this time of crisis, we believe that this budget is best spent on sustaining the sector.”

It said ACE would prioritise reopening the National Lottery Project Grants stream as early as possible.

Darren Henley, chief executive of ACE, said: “Right now, our number-one priority is to do everything we can to help individual artists and cultural organisations to stay afloat. 

“It’s going to be tough, but we need them to be in the best possible shape to use their creativity to benefit people’s lives in villages, towns and cities across England once our communities begin the process of recovering from this terrible virus."

He thanked the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for the speed of its response, which he said had enabled ACE to act without delay.

“Already, I’ve seen artists and cultural organisations draw on their bottomless ingenuity and creativity to dream up ways to connect, comfort and uplift us as we face these uniquely challenging circumstances,” Henley said.

“This is a frightening time for all of us. But, as we distance ourselves from one another in our daily lives, I believe the role of arts and culture in helping to bring us all together will become ever more critical.”

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