Have you thought about how wonderful an exciting arts or culture-based project would be for your organisation or are you an artist or other creative keen to engage with new audiences, but struggling to pay your bills?

In both scenarios, grant aid may offer a way forward.

The opportunity.

This morning I did some quick research and turned up 127 grants and 3 loan finance-based funding opportunities, applicable to organisations working across the full range of arts and culture activity across the UK. Many of these, like the Elephant Trust, offer relatively small grants of just a few thousand pounds.  Other funders like the Lottery Awards for All Programme, offer grants of up to £10,000. A few funders even offer the opportunity to secure much larger awards for the right project.

Actually, the range of grants and other funding open to the arts, is much greater than my quick search turned up. This is because arts projects can also secure funding via grants aimed at achieving outcomes like supporting education, engaging the community or working with older people. This is achieved by the use of arts-based activity as the delivery mechanism for a project. On top of the grants from National or European funders identified in my fairly rudimentary initial search, there are also lots more grants that are only available within a specific region or locality.

This represents a HUGE opportunity for the creative sector.

Some of the more obvious funders such as the Arts Council will fund creatives directly, whereas many funders will only fund specific kinds of organisation, such as charities and social enterprises.

Across the period 2018-22 the Arts Council has identified several major funding streams:

  • Their national portfolio – £407m reserved for major arts bodies
  • Project grants – £97m this is their main open-access funding programme
  • Development funds – £72m focused on diversity, resilience, innovation in business models, leadership development and creating more pathways for a wider range of people to become part of the arts and culture sector
  • Music Education Hubs – £76m restricted to the Music Education Hub network

In the short term, these funds are on hold due to a redirection of funds to allow them to offer a £160m package of COVID-19 related support for the Arts sector, but they will almost certainly be back once the pandemic comes under control and society has adapted to a new normal.

MANY other fantastic funds such as the Garfield Weston Foundation are still open to new applications at the time of writing this blog.

Child learning guitar and art projects being painted
What do I need to do?

Funders will rarely provide grants to help you create a work that will then be sold for personal benefit. Most creatives will need to decide what strategy you want to adopt, to ensure you can access these funding opportunities; these include:

  1. If you are an artist: partnering with another organisation such as a school, charity or community group who are eligible to apply for grants can work well. This allows you to collaborate to submit bids and if successful in securing funding create a new work for your partner, often engaging a specific group of people in some way in the creation or performance of the new work.
  2. For organisations like schools and community groups wanting to develop an arts-based project: a good place to start is to decide early on who/what this might be and the creative you would like to work with. This way you can get their help to scope the project out and make your bid.
  3. Another strategy open to creatives, is to develop an organisation that is eligible to apply for grants to deliver arts projects in a socially beneficial manner. This might be a small charity, a social enterprise, or an unincorporated community organisation. For most arts projects, the latter two structures will work better as they allow those who run them to be paid! If you contemplate this approach, remember that limited companies (by share) are, like sole traders, rarely eligible to secure much in the way of grants.

Once you know how you want to bid for, the key step is to do some research to identify funders who might support the kind of work you want to do. Timing is often a key factor here, as most funders process grant applications in regular rounds. These are normally early, twice yearly, or quarterly although; some funders do accept applications at any time.

Once you have developed a ‘long list’ of potential funders a good way to see what kinds of projects each likes to fund is to check out their past awards, for example in the case of the Lottery Awards for All programme a list of arts projects they have previously supported can be found here. In the case of charitable funders, this information can be harder to find but a quick search for them on the Charity Commissions register will turn up their accounts and often these list who a charity has funded previously and to what value.

Whilst you can do this research on your own, this is certainly an area where some professional support from an organisation like Heaward Solutions can be invaluable saving both time and reducing the frustrations involved.

Once you know how you plan to develop your bid(s) and which funds you want to apply to for a specific project its time to get on and develop your bid. This is a topic for a blog in its own right, but helpfully we have already written one that can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/every-funding-application-wins-andrew-heaward/

If you want some help to find out more about how you can set up a new organisation to access grant aid, or access funding for arts and culture-based projects in other ways, please get in touch.

Telephone: 07983 655832

Email: andrew@heawardsolutions.co.uk

Website: https://www.heawardsolutions.co.uk

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