Applying for a 2021/22 Arts Award Access Fund grant

Applying for a 2021/22 Arts Award Access Fund grant

Picture of Kat Stapley-Smith

BY: Kat Stapley-Smith
06 Sep 2021

If you’re an Arts Award adviser, hopefully you’ve heard about the Access Fund. It provides eligible Arts Award centres in the UK with grants of up to £1,500. There is one application window each year, and applications are open now for the 2021/22 round. What you might not know about the Access Fund is the incredible impact it’s had on the young people and centres it’s supported over the years.

Who is the Access Fund for?

The Arts Award Access Fund is focused on supporting registered Arts Award centres working on Arts Award projects with young people who face barriers to access and inclusion. These barriers might include:

  • disabilities
  • special educational needs, learning difficulties or neurodiversity
  • living in areas of rural isolation and/or socio-economic deprivation
  • being in the youth justice system
  • being looked after either by foster carers or in residential children’s homes
  • being a young carer or parent
  • being in a specific minority group (e.g. LGBTQ+, BAME, homeless, traveller community, asylum seeker, refugee)
  • not being in full-time education, employment or training
  • being a hospital outpatient/inpatient or suffering from a long-term health problem.

Who has the Access Fund helped?

The Access Fund has been running since 2007 and since then has supported hundreds of Arts Award centres and thousands of young people. Here are a few snapshots of centres that we’ve supported recently and the impact the Access Fund grant had on their young people:

In Focus

Adviser, Xavier Fiddes told us:

'The young people actively engaged when they were in the session. They produced some creative workIn Focus and fit the brief of creating creative decorations for the building that we ran the sessions from. The young people learned new skills such as painting, 3D model building and graphic design which was combined with the photography skills they had already learnt on the programme. They also informed two CPD sessions that were held at Southampton Youth Offending Service.

The young people who are part of the arts programme at SYOS are mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds and have trouble engaging in a more traditional school environment. Our sessions along with the Arts Award gives them focus and helps them express themselves in different, creative ways. We do not put the same pressures on them that they would find in a school and they are free to learn at their own pace and study creative subjects that they have an interest in.

The skills they learn improve their self-confidence and we aim to provide a safe space where they can express themselves in a healthy and creative way. They learn to become part of discussions and are encouraged to have conceptual thoughts of their own that they can express without judgement. Given the time and space to do so they really produce some amazing work.'

South Quay College

Adviser, Frances Easter-Brennan told us:

Abstract press print'The Arts Award project was different for each student as we are delivering art in a therapeutic and personalised way. The money was used to give students an introduction to safety-conscious print making as an option for Bronze Part A and to give them a theatre experience for Part B.

While many of the young people did not want to pursue a print project, having improved print making facilities has exposed them to a broader range of art materials and art making methods. Some of the young people who did not feel they could "do art" were actually very pleased with their work and felt that it was successful. Most of the young people really enjoyed using the press and finding out about how it worked and they also had fun with the messy process of intaglio printing. They had not seen a press before and found it quite exciting.

At the start of the project most young people had not done art since year 7 or 8 and they felt, on the whole that they "did not like art". By the end of the project, we had enough work finished to a high standard for an exhibition. So, I think being involved in Arts Award changed their views about art and what it might be able to do for them.'

Cymru Creations Film and Training Academy

Adviser, Kevin Phillips told us:

'Students began by exploring a range of art forms connected to the film industry, as well as identifying an artist and their work within the film industry. Students also explored what job they would like to do within the industry and why. Students then designed a poster for a film, working in groups they then made the film from their poster and each took on a specific role within the production process. The films premiered to an audience via an online presentation (due to COVID19) to family, friends and other students. Students also reflected on what they have learnt and discovered during this process and how it will influence their film making and exploration of the arts going forward.

Arts Award has had a major positive impact on the young people that have been involved. During our classes, students found a new way to channel their efforts on achieving their goals to be able to gain their Arts Award. They found a new sense of focus which therefore reflected on their produced work. Upon gaining their Arts Award, this had a real benefit to their mental health along with something they can add to their CV to show the journey they all undertook to gain such a unique qualification.'

How much can I apply for?

The Access Fund is a small pot of money and the application process is highly competitive. Centres looking to receive a grant can apply for between £100 and £1,500 to pilot, embed or develop their Arts Award programme. The money received can be used to cover a range of costs including moderation/certification fees, equipment and materials, and adviser delivery time.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applying for an Access Fund grant is Friday 8 October 2021.

Where can I find more information about applying for the Access Fund?

More information, including a link to the application form and guidance notes can be found on the Arts Award website. If you have any further queries, please email

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