Interesting Facts and Figures from the Grants for the Arts Programme

By Amanda Rigali on

Amanda RigaliI’ve spent some time analysing the latest set of data released by Arts Council England for their Grants for the Arts lottery programme, which lists all grants made from 1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016.   The results offer useful pointers for anyone considering submitting an application to the Programme over the next year.

Grants for the Arts is Arts Council England’s open access lottery funding programme for individuals, arts organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. In 2015-16, over £73 million was distributed in 3,908 grants. Below is some further detail on these lucky grants recipients.

  1. There were a higher number of grantees based in London, but they received proportionately less funding than those based in other Areas.

The table below lists the number of awards based upon the location of the grantee. This does not necessarily correlate with where the funded activity will take place – a number of these awards will be for activity taking place in other Areas, or more than one Area.

Area in which Grantee is Based Number of Awards % Sum of Awards %
London 1,172 30% £19,111,326 26%
Midlands 479 12% £10,592,963 14%
North 1,027 26% £19,791,416 27%
Other (outside England) 31 1% £824,171 1%
South East 682 17% £12,748,398 17%
South West 517 13% £10,014,888 14%
Grand Total 3,908 100% £73,083,162 100%

We can see the immediate difference with London figures – grantees based in London received 30% of all awards, but only 26% of all funding. Grantees in the North, Midlands and South West received a greater proportion of funding than their proportion of awards. The grants awarded in London therefore had the lowest average amount of £16,307, much lower than the national average of £18,701.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

We know of course that Darren Henley, Arts Council CEO had announced a change in the amount of lottery funding distributed within London: ‘Arts Council England has already increased its investment of lottery revenue outside London up to 70%. But I want us to do better still.   So, by the end of 2018, we are committing to increase this by at least a further 5% points. At least 75% of Lottery revenue will be invested outside London.’ We can see that this has already taken effect, with the Arts Council reaching 76% of Grants for the arts funding distributed outside of London in 2015-16.

This is a reminder to all London-based individuals and arts organisations, should they need it, that competition for lottery funding is very intense. The figures above tell us nothing about proportionate success rates across the Areas, but, given the high density of artists and arts organisations based in London, we can assume that there were probably a greater number of unsuccessful applicants based in London than in other Areas.

  1. Theatre projects received the largest number of awards and the largest amount of funding in total, whilst Combined arts projects received the largest average amount of funding per grant.

The table below shows that a quarter of all grant funding went to Theatre projects. However, the average award to a Theatre grantee was £16,019, much lower than the average across all grants of £18,701. Combined arts projects received a much greater proportion of funding than awards, with an average award of £24,413 per grantee. This probably reflects the fact that there were fewer awards to individuals within the Combined arts discipline, as it is by nature a discipline that requires a combining of artistic practices, which usually involves more than one artist or group.

Artform No. of Awards % Sum of Awards %
Combined arts 667 17% £16,283,468 22%
Dance 373 10% £7,028,495 10%
Literature 336 9% £4,882,344 7%
Museums 1 0% £15,070 0%
Music 540 14% £10,155,805 14%
Not art form specific 36 1% £1,575,542 2%
Not discipline specific 4 0% £36,915 0%
Theatre 1,138 29% £18,229,659 25%
Visual arts 813 21% £14,875,864 20%
Grand Total 3,908 100% £73,083,162 100%
  1. Grantees based in 30 local authority areas in England received over half of the total grant funding.

Grantees were located across a total of 299 local authority areas within England. However, grants totalling almost £38 million were distributed across just 30 local authority areas, most of them within major cities. This is of course not surprising, as it reflects where artists and arts organisations are based. To re-iterate, this does not mean that the funded activity will all have taken place in these local authorities – a great proportion will have taken place elsewhere. Nonetheless there will have been significant benefit to arts professionals and the arts infrastructure within these locales, even if only in relation to project creation and management.

Local Authority Sum of Awards to Grantees Local Authority Sum of Awards to Grantees
Birmingham £2,976,548
Brighton and Hove £2,382,267 Leeds £1,882,524
Bristol, City of £2,220,573 Leicester £1,120,464
Camden £1,233,092 Lewisham £1,190,654
Canterbury £567,111 Liverpool £1,296,606
Cornwall £1,095,292 Manchester £2,515,149
Exeter £594,996 Newcastle upon Tyne £1,240,874
Gateshead £502,669 Nottingham £999,281
Hackney £2,642,218 Oxford £560,134
Haringey £874,130 Salford £521,116
Hastings £724,891 Sheffield £1,173,657
Islington £1,548,747 South Lakeland £614,383
Kensington and Chelsea £696,054 Southwark £1,320,629
Kirklees £556,303 Tower Hamlets £1,389,072
Lambeth £1,180,713 Waltham Forest £578,591
Credit: JimmyGuano - CC BY-SA 3.0

Birmingham local authority received almost £3m. Credit: JimmyGuano – CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are based within one of these local authorities, consider this list both an opportunity and a threat. This list shows that the Arts Council recognizes and supports artists and arts organisations within areas of ‘high arts density’. However, the whole point of lottery funding is that it is distributed equitably across England, and all lottery distributors are very mindful of their obligations in this regard.

Applicants based in an area of high arts density should also be mindful of this requirement, and aim to ensure that as much of their activity as possible is taking place either with people who have less access to the arts in their area, or in other local authority areas.

  1. 30 local authority areas in England received less than £15,000 total grant funding.

The 30 local authority areas below received hardly any financial benefit from Grants for the arts. Whilst their residents may have benefitted from activity brought into their locales, there was less activity being created and managed in the locales.

Local Authority Sum of Awards to Grantees Local Authority Sum of Awards to Grantees
North Warwickshire £3,268 Tandridge £10,960
Staffordshire Moorlands £4,543 Rossendale £11,615
North Dorset £6,000 Rugby £12,795
Vale of White Horse £6,480 Fareham £13,000
Rutland £6,559 Hyndburn £13,450
North Devon £7,383 Welwyn Hatfield £13,600
Weymouth and Portland £7,600 Chorley £13,652
Stafford £9,008 East Hertfordshire £13,792
Broxbourne £9,500 Castle Point £14,190
Crawley £9,600 Torridge £14,338
Cannock Chase £9,950 Runnymede £14,400
South Bucks £9,950 Harlow £14,950
Fenland £10,000 Chesterfield £14,970
Reigate and Banstead £10,350 Wellingborough £14,987
North Kesteven £10,900 Nuneaton and Bedworth £14,999

Of course, there is a reason for this dearth of activity – these are areas of low arts density. Nonetheless, artists and arts organisations based in these local authorities have a great opportunity to access Grants for the arts funding in the next year precisely because the levels of distribution to these areas in the last year were so low.

  1. 24 Grantees received Grants of over £100,000.

Whilst the main Grants for the Arts information page states that awards ‘of up to £100,000’ are made, if you dig deeper into the Guidance you can discover that applicants can seek permission to apply for larger grants. The largest grant made in 2015-16 was £449,698, to the Without Walls Consortium of outdoor arts festivals. Other awards were offered for a range of activity including festivals, talent development programmes and networks. So, whilst the Arts Council’s Exceptional Awards programme is now closed, the Arts Council can still make significant grants for projects it considers to be of exceptional public benefit through Grants for the Arts.

I hope this brief analysis of Grants for the Arts data proved useful for you. I wish you the very best of luck with any application you make!

Are you thinking of applying to Grants for the Arts, or are you a successful or unsuccessful applicant? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted by Amanda Rigali

Amanda is Director of Strategic Development at Cause4, and Head of the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme. As well as running the Programme, Amanda runs fundraising training sessions for cultural professionals across England and offers intensive strategy support to a range of charities.

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