Access Fund: What you Need to Know

Access Fund: What you Need to Know

Picture of Alan Lynch

BY: Alan Lynch
01 Feb 2016

The Access Fund is now open for new applications! It’s a great opportunity for any Arts Award centres in England delivering the award to young people with access and inclusion issues to apply for funding to support their work.

In this week’s blog we’re going to explain what Access Fund is, who it is for, and offer some tips for anybody interested in applying!

What is Access Fund?

Access Fund is a small grant available to help support organisations deliver Arts Award to young people who might otherwise be able to access it. We've blogged about it before, during the previous round of applications.

If your centre is registered with us, and you’re planning an Arts Award project aimed at young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue then you can apply for a grant of up to £1,500!

Why Access Fund?

We’re extremely proud that Arts Award is an accessible qualification. It is flexible, encourages creativity and can be delivered alongside a vast range of different art forms. Arts Award is a qualification that can adapt to the young people taking part, and we want to help ensure that any young person who wants to can get involved in it.

There could be any number of reasons why young people can’t engage with Arts Award or the wider arts world. These reasons could be financial or geographical; or a young person might have health issues or some other personal circumstances to consider. We offer the Access Fund to help give these young people the same opportunities as their peers. We want them to be creative, to be inspired by the arts without barriers to participation.

How do I apply?

All Access Fund applications are submitted online. There are 13 questions, inviting you to tell us about your centre, the young people you’ll be working with and the project you have planned. You don’t have to jump to the online form straight away – there’s a mock application form on our website that you can use to work on first. Then, when you’re ready, follow the application link and complete the online form. You’ll know the outcome three weeks after the closing date of 4 March 2016!

Do you have any tips for applying?

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre_2nd image_2008_WM

Our how to apply page has a link to guidance for applicants, which you should keep handy as you complete an application. It will explain what we’re looking for in each question so should help if you get stuck. This is a really useful resource, and we can generally tell when it hasn’t been read at all. Other overall advice to have in mind is:

  • Be specific. Remember that the panel who read your application won’t know as much about your project as you do! For instance if you’re planning workshops tell us what they are, why they’re appropriate for your group, and how they fit in with the rest of the project.
  • This also applies to the group you’re working with. We want to know about the young people who will benefit from your project and any particular issues that they face.
  • Always remember the Arts Award criteria. This is really important, but can easily be forgotten! The aim of your project is to successfully deliver Arts Award, so tell us how you plan to achieve that. We need to see how your group are going to work towards achieving their Arts Award, and that you’ve given consideration to this in your planning. This is especially important if your project covers multiple levels of Arts Award, as what’s appropriate for one might not fit with another.
  • Make sure your budget is accurate. Ultimately, we need to know that any funding we give you is going to be well-spent. If you don’t tell us how you plan to spend your Access Fund grant, or your figures aren’t clear, then it’s difficult for us to see what it will be put towards. And include the per head fee to enter young people for Arts Award! The fees are available at - even if you don’t need Access Fund to pay for the cost to enter young people for Arts Award, we do need to know that it’s been factored into your overall budget.
  • Finally, be aspirational. We said this in our last top tips post and it’s still true. An important aspect of the Access Fund is to have a long-term impact on your work. We want this to be the start of a longer journey, so tell us what your future plans are. Are you piloting a new approach? Building links to sustain other projects?

Support is available!

Visit to view the Access Fund application form, download the guidance and our Top Tips for applying. And if you need any more support, call the Helpdesk on 020 7820 6178 or drop us an email at

The closing date for Access Fund applications is 5pm, Friday 4 March 2016

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