What funding is available to support arts, culture and heritage organisations through the cost of living crisis?

What funding is available to support arts, culture and heritage organisations through the cost of living crisis?

In the midst of the cost of living crisis, Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy has produced this resource for charities that are looking for additional sources of funding. Our focus below is on funds which can be used by arts, culture or heritage organisations struggling with the impact of the cost of living crisis, such as rising energy costs and leasing increases, or funds which can be used to support core costs. 

If you would like to talk over the challenges you are facing as a result of the cost of living crisis, you may also be interested in signing up to one of our free strategy Power Hours, where you can receive support and advice from one of the senior members of our team.  

The Asda Foundation

Registered Charity Number: 1124268

The Cost of Living Grant Scheme is an Asda Foundation grant aimed at supporting the increased running costs that groups will face between September 2022 and February 2023, such as rent increases and electricity costs. Grants are aimed at clubs, groups or organisations that are based in community locations and that will be offering to remain open for longer to provide people with a warm, safe place to be (such as this example of the Theatre Royal Plymouth, which has pledged to a ‘warmth bank’ over the winter). Applications opened on 19th September 2022 and will remain open until the budget cap has been reached (funds must be spent before February 2023). Potential applicants are encouraged to read the guidance here and, if your group and project meet the criteria, to approach your local Asda Community Champion about applying.

Tel: 0113 2435435

Email: asdafoundation@asda.co.uk

Big Issue Invest – Big Energy Saving Loans

Registered Charity Number: 1042514

This fund offers energy bill loans to charities and social enterprises in England that are struggling with rising costs. You can apply for between £20,000 and £150,000, and the investment can be used for a variety of projects such as insulation, heat exchangers and heat pumps, LED light installations and buying and installing renewable energy equipment.

Tel: 020 7526 3429

Email: enquiries@bigissueinvest.com

BBC Children in Need – New Core Cost Funding

Registered Charity Number: 802052

For the first time, the charity will directly fund core costs over the next three years. It will offer grants via three strands, including one for core organisational and development costs and another aimed at its traditional project-based funding. The core costs funding stream has no application deadline. NB: the funds will only be eligible for arts, culture and heritage organisations if working with children and young people under the age of 18.

Tel: 0345 609 0015

Email: pudsey@bbc.co.uk

Bank of Scotland Foundation – Cost of Living Funding

Registered Charity Number: SC032942

The Bank of Scotland Foundation has announced it is providing almost £1,000,000 of additional financial support to Scotland’s Third Sector to help charities through the cost-of-living crisis. The Foundation is a core funder, meaning that it funds core costs such as fuel, electricity, heating, lighting and salaries across all of its grant programmes. The Foundation’s Reach grant programme is for smaller charities with an annual income of £1m or less and offers £1,000-£25,000 of funding over one year. The final round of applications for the Reach programme opens in January 2023. 

Tel: 0131 655 2599

Email: enquiries@bankofscotlandfoundation.co.uk

Groundwork – One Stop Community Partnership Programme

Registered Charity Number: 291558

Groundwork is working with One Stop Stores Ltd to administer the One Stop Community Partnership programme. Successful applicants will receive an initial grant of up to £1,000 and will begin a partnership with their local One Stop store. This programme is designed to support community groups or organisations operating within two miles of a One Stop store, and which are working to tackle food poverty and/or supporting the elderly within the local community. Applications can be made at any time. NB: In line with the funder’s guidance, this fund will only be applicable to arts organisations that have tailored their work to respond to the basic needs of their local community (see this example of how Slung Low Theatre Company did this for the community of Holbeck during the Covid-19 pandemic). 

Tel: 0121 236 8565

Email: info@groundwork.org

Theatres Trust – Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities

Registered Charity Number: 274697

Thanks to the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and Swire Charitable Trust, the Theatre’s Trust has recently launched this new programme to help theatres in need. It is specifically targeted toward supporting communities operating a theatre building, and communities considering taking over a theatre building. Although not specifically to support cost of living, the new grants programme will fund strategic and organisational development work for three to six theatres a year, targeted at those theatres that need it the most. Details of this fund will be announced in December 2022.

Tel: 020 7836 8591

Email: info@theatrestrust.org.uk

Nationwide Building Society – Community Grants

Registered Charity Number: 1065552

Nationwide has announced that applications for this year’s Community Grants are now open, with applications welcomed from charities supporting people in the cost-of-living crisis, alongside those focused on housing. The Community Grants programme awards charities, community land trusts and housing cooperatives grants of between £10,000 and £50,000. All successful Community Grant applications must support one of the three social priorities of helping people into a home; preventing them from losing their home; or supporting them to thrive at home. While some of the grant recipients are those you might expect, such as hostels and places that provide food, others are more surprising – so there may be scope for arts, culture and heritage organisations to apply if projects align with the core focus to ‘enable everyone to have a place fit to call home’. 

Tel: 0330 460 0709

Email: enquiries@nationwidefoundation.org.uk

National Lottery Community Fund – Reaching Communities England

Registered Charity Number: N/A

This programme offers a larger amount of funding (over £10,000) for voluntary or community organisations that work with their community, whether that is for people living in the same area, or people with similar interests or life experiences. The funder has made it clear that this Fund applies to organisations working to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis, and aims to support them as they recover, rebuild and grow. This includes direct costs, core costs and capital costs. 

Tel: 0345 4 10 20 30

Email: general.enquiries@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) – Heritage Resilience and Recovery Funding

Registered Charity Number: N/A

Through their National Lottery Grants for Heritage, the NLHF is committed to supporting the UK’s heritage sector to adapt and thrive. The funder recognises that the cumulative impact of the economic and environmental crises is seriously challenging the sector’s resilience. Grants are organised into the two tiers of £3,000-£250,000 and over £250,000. Organisations should consider how grants will make an impact in the long-term, in line with the NLHF’s good practice guidance. If you have further questions, you’ll need to contact the NLHF via your local office

Resilience Fund - Museum Galleries Scotland

Registered Charity Number: SC015593

A new fund has been launched to help accredited museums in Scotland tackle increasing financial challenges. Grants of up to £50,000 are available to support projects that increase the resilience of museums by enabling them to implement measures that will reduce costs, increase income, and support their communities. Because of the potential to reduce costs in the long term, applications to implement energy efficiency measures will be prioritised. Round two is now open and has an initial expression of interest deadline of 5pm on 19th January 2023. Prospective applicants should email the Grants Team via the contact details provided giving a very brief indication of how much the application is for, for what purpose and flagging any specific queries.

Tel: 0131 550 4100

Email: grants@museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk 


In addition to the above, the list below is a selection of the funders that will support core costs:

Core costs/Unrestricted Funding

  • The Ashley Family Foundation supports projects protecting rural communities and encouraging participation in the arts, particularly that of textiles, in England and Wales. The Foundation will fund core costs, including salaries and overheads.
  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Arts Access and Participation Fund can be used to support core costs. This fund addresses inequalities of opportunity to access and participate in the arts. Grant recipients that have so far been awarded in the year 2022/23 include Beacon Films CIC, DIY Theatre Company, New Writing North and Theatre Peckham. 
  • The Garfield Weston Foundation is a reliable supporter of arts organisations, regardless of size. The Foundation continues to make unrestricted grants that can be used for core costs / salaries. However, the Trustees prefer to support staff salaries as part of general overheads and not individual posts. Take their quiz to find out if you’re eligible. 
  • The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation will support core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads, and provide unrestricted funding. Applications for their grant programme, A Fairer Future, opened on 12 October 2022. You can find out more about the Arts & Creativity Making Change strand of this programme here
  • The Foyle Foundation’s Main Grant Scheme supports UK registered charities with a core remit of Arts or Learning. Since the pandemic, it has revised its criteria to distribute more grants to cover core costs, favouring organisations with no, or without significant public funding. 


Further resources/ideas:

  • The Charity Excellence Framework has launched their guide on funding opportunities to support charities through the cost-of-living crisis, which they are updating regularly with more information. Find out more here.  
  • Many of the UK’s Community Foundations have grants that could be applied to alleviate the impact of the cost of living crisis (some may even have specific funding schemes). It is well worth checking out your local community foundation to see if there is any funding available. 
  • The government is urging museums and galleries to sign up to a VAT refund scheme, which has recently reopened for applications. The scheme has provided the sector with up to £1bn since it was created in 2001. Institutions taking part in the scheme are entitled to a refund on VAT incurred on goods and services that are purchased in order to provide free admission. Find out more here.
  • You could consider collaborating with a partner organisation to save on back-office costs, for example, by sharing a Finance Officer or payroll function. Besides the obvious financial benefit, this could also mean that these services are delivered more efficiently. However, as with any partnership, it’s important to weigh up the benefits and risk factors involved. The Charity Commissions’ toolkit on collaborative working might be a helpful starting point here. 
  • The Government’s Energy Bill and Relief Scheme will provide energy bill relief between 1st October 2022 and 31stMarch 2023, and this includes voluntary sector organisations and charities. The support will automatically be applied to all eligible bills, so you don’t need to apply for the scheme. Find out more here.
  • NCVO is offering a variety of other forms of support for charities affected by the cost of living crisis, including events and training and discounted/free services via their trusted suppliers. 
  • Finally, if you’re reading this from the perspective of a funder or high-net-worth individual, you might find this article by Charities Aid Foundation and this new guide by New Philanthropy Capital helpful in helping you think about how best you can support charities.


We will be continuing to update this resource as and when new information is available. Do sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date, or follow us on Twitter @artsfundraising where we share the latest news from across the sector.