Arts Award Blog

    Arts and cultural funding across the UK

    Author: Alan Lynch

    Date: 29 Oct 2018

    Last week we considered how schools might approach the arts from a range of budget points. We know that in addition to schools, budgets can be tight for the youth and community sector, and arts and cultural organisations, which is why sources of external funding are increasingly important. If you’re looking to deliver Arts Award or further develop your work but having trouble when it comes to resources, we’ve compiled a guide to some of the available funding for arts projects across the UK.


    Arts Council England

    Arguably the best-known of Arts Council England (ACE)’s funding streams is their National Portfolio, but that’s not all they have to offer.

    National Lottery Project Grants – which replaced Grants for the Arts in 2018 – is designed to support individual projects at different budget levels. Organisations applying for £15,000 or under will receive a decision in six weeks, while those requesting over £15,000 will hear the outcome in 12 weeks. There’s no deadline, so applications can be submitted throughout the year and, unlike Grants for the Arts, Project Grants can be put towards the cost of delivering Arts Award.

    The Youth Performance Partnerships Programme provides new opportunities for children and young people aged 8-18, particularly from areas of low cultural engagement and high levels of deprivation, to take part in high quality performance and performance making. Five grants of up to £1million have been awarded to Local Cultural Education Partnerships, one in each of the Arts Council areas.  The focus is to deliver a programme of engagement reaching over 2,000 children across three academic years (until August 2022), providing extra-curricular activity both in school and community settings.

    The purpose is primarily around theatre making and performance. However, projects can involve other art forms as part of theatre performance (music and dance, for example). Increasing knowledge of sector career paths, nurturing talent and supporting self-esteem and well being of children and young people are just some of the outcomes these engagement programmes can deliver on.

    Contact your local Cultural Education Partnership or Arts Council Bridge organisation to find out if your school is in one of the five awarded areas, which are as follows:

    • Croydon – Croydon Music and Arts
    • Derby – University of Derby Theatre
    • Salford – The Lowry Centre Trust
    • Medway – Medway Council Brook Theatre
    • Plymouth – Theatre Royal Plymouth

    The ACE website also contains contact information for other sources of funding, including their counterpart Arts Councils in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    Youth Music

    Youth Music's grants provide funding for music projects across England. Their focus is on projects which centre around music-making for children and young people in challenging circumstances as well as the more strategic work on developing the wider music sector. The organisation has two funds available: Fund A offers amounts of £2,000 - £30,000 while Fund B has a larger award of £30,001 - £150,000 on offer and involves a two-stage application process. Both funds have different closing dates, all of which are advertised on Youth Music’s website, with application forms available 4-6 weeks before each deadline.

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    Creative Scotland

    While Creative Scotland offer regular funding, they also provide opportunities for a range of projects, including their own rolling programme of Open Project Funding which can be applied for at any time. Grants range from £1,000 - £150,000 and are available to individuals or organisations based in Scotland. Projects could range from those which help artists to develop their skills, to those aimed at encouraging wider participation in the arts.

    Creative Scotland’s Opportunities page is regularly updated with details of funding deadlines, as well as jobs and development opportunities, across the country.

    Culture & Business Fund Scotland

    Administered by Arts & Business Scotland, the Culture & Business Fund Scotland is a scheme designed to encourage business or companies to sponsor arts and heritage activity in Scotland. An organisation which attracts sponsorship can apply for match-funding from the Culture & Business Fund Scotland up to the value of £40,000. There’s no deadline for applications and decisions are made within six weeks.


    Arts Council of Wales

    Arts Council of Wales provide a suite of funding streams, with deadlines throughout the year. Their small grants, with separate application processes for individuals and organisations, are open year-round. However, each grant has different strands which the funding can support; such as Taking Part, Production, or Research and Development.

    Literature WalesPiggy bank

    Literature Wales’ Writers on Tour Funding has provided support for literature events in Wales for over 30 years. Organisations can apply for up to 50% of writer’s fees, allowing them to take part in one-off visits, a series of workshops or festival programming. There are deadlines throughout the financial year and decisions are confirmed within nine working days of the closing date.


    National Lottery

    In addition to funding given to regional arts councils, the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund offers a host of grants, several of which are open for applications year-round. Awards for All, for instance, is available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and provides grants of £300 - £10,000. These grants are designed to support voluntary or community organisations, including schools, to deliver projects that make a difference in local communities.

    The National Lottery’s funding page also includes details of additional streams available to specific regions, such as Empowering Young People in Northern Ireland or Young Start in Scotland.

    Heritage Lottery Fund – Young Roots

    Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have a range of grant programmes, each targeting a different heritage area. Young Roots offers grants of £10,000 - £50,000 to help young people aged 11 – 25 explore their heritage. HLF’s aim is to bring heritage and youth organisations together and create opportunities for young people to share their learning with the wider community. Applications are invited from partnerships between heritage and youth organisations with plans that have been led by young people, giving them active roles in the project. There are no deadlines, with applications assessed within eight weeks, before being discussed in meetings at a local HLF office.

    Please note: HLF are launching a new funding framework, and as such no Young Roots applications will be accepted after 18 January 2019.

    Children in Need

    BBC Children in Need offers grants for projects supporting disadvantaged children and young people. This could include children who suffer from illness, distress or neglect, those who have a disability, face behavioural or psychological difficulties or who live in poverty / situations of deprivation. Projects can be funded for up to three years, with small grants (up to £10,000 per year) and main grants (over £10,000 per year), available throughout the year.

    The above are only some of the available funding for arts organisations, youth organisations and schools. Each national arts council’s funding page contains links to other organisations and offers that vary throughout the year. Grants Online maintain an up to date register of funding deadlines across the UK for all sectors while regional Bridge organisations can provide support and guidance on any local opportunities in England. Don’t forget own Access Fund grant opens for applications again on 28 January 2019.


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