Is it Worth Thinking about EU Funding Anymore?

Is it Worth Thinking about EU Funding Anymore?

This blog was written by Rachael White, Fundraising & Development Manager at FACT in Liverpool and Regional Coordinator for Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy.  You can follow Rachael on Twitter @RachaelAWhite.

As the end of March 2017 approaches fast, and the formal process of the UK exiting the EU starts, it may not seem logical to add European grants into the annual funding pipeline for arts organisations. However, up until the UK has formally exited the EU, we are still contributing to the coffers in Brussels, so there is still potential, at least for now.

The European Commission released a brief statement in June 2017, in regards to Creative Europe, that stated: “As long as the negotiations about the conditions of the UK's withdrawal from the EU will not have dealt with the issues linked to the Creative Europe programme, UK organisations have exactly the same rights and obligations as any other participants in the Creative Europe projects within the countries taking part in the programme."

So, good news, it looks like UK applicants will be eligible at least until the end of 2018.

Going forwards, it is wise to think about European funding as a tale of two halves, with different focuses during negotiations, and once the UK has left the EU.

During Negotiations

If the above European Commission statement runs true across funding streams, UK organisations can be confident that until 2018 the current status quo can be maintained. That means that UK organisations can continue applying, and leading, Creative Europe bids, alongside Erasmus+, and Europe for Citizens. However, it’s likely that there will be a diminished amount of long term, location based funding available relatively quickly.

ERDF and ESIF grants, whilst not a mainstay of arts and culture, have been invaluable for capital projects. In my hometown of Liverpool, The Royal Court was successful in 2014 in gaining an ERDF grant £1.4 million which provided substantial funding to an impressive fundraising campaign.

These are the funds to go for soonest if you can, as they aren’t going to be around for much longer.

Having Left the EU

Once the UK has Brexit-ed, it doesn’t mean that everything is over, UK partners have much to offer colleagues on the continent. Not only is English the lingua franca, meaning that us native speakers are always handy when it comes to application writing, but the relatively well-funded UK arts scene offers easy matched funding for European partners.

It is yet to be seen if Erasmus+ will be continuing post-Brexit, as a number of non-EU countries also participate, but the main programme for arts and culture will continue to be accessible: Creative Europe.  UK arts organisations will have to join consortia which have the minimum number of partners from EU countries. It will undoubtedly mean a smaller slice of the cake, but it is still a great opportunity to create invaluable professional networks and showcase your work internationally.

Arts Council England NPO/MPM organisations can also use their grant as match-funding making the whole process relatively hassle free.

There are two main routes, small projects and large projects:

Creative Europe Small Cooperation Projects are available to partners from a minimum of three eligible countries, up to a value of €200,000, and you can apply for up to 60% of the total project budget.

Creative Europe Large Cooperation Projects are available to partners from a minimum of six eligible countries, up to a value of €2 million, and you can apply for up to 50% of the total project budget.

What Next?

  • Find a partner – there are many listings available, handily put together by Creative Europe Desk UK here:
  • Think up a project – easier said than done, but there are also some implicit things that often get missed by applicants: Why is this project timely? Why are these partners the ones to undertake it? How does it best show what contemporary Europe represents?
  • Get to a session by Creative Europe Desk UK – these are fairly regularly from May – October each year and cover a wide spectrum of topics.
  • Consider setting up a Euro bank account – the current economic volatility means that it is highly likely UK organisations will be stung by fluctuations in currency exchange, this helps mitigate some risk.
  • Write your application – don’t make the most common mistake and write your beautiful accompanying information and rush the form, as the form is how most of your grading is calculated. Prepare the form first and you will be grateful later.