ACE announces funding plans for 2015-18

Arts Council England has revealed how it will distribute its funds over the next three years.

The majority of the 670 arts organisations on ACE’s new portfolio (NPO’s) will receive no change in funding, whilst 37 organisations, including English National Opera, have seen their funding reduced. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic was one of the few NPOs to receive an increase in funds, which it says will go towards a major refurbishment project of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

The overall investment to NPOs will be reduced to GBP339.5m in 2015-16, compared to 2014-15 figure of GBP341.4m.

The Grants for the Arts budget is set to increase by GBP7m, bringing the total amount available to GBP70m, but this is balanced by a reduction in strategic funds for the arts overall from GBP153m to GBP104m.

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ACE chief executive Alan Davey said: ‘The portfolio should be viewed alongside our strategic funds and Grants for the Arts – these will fund added ambition and reach in a sector that has shown it is hungry to do more and audiences that have shown they are hungry for great cultural experiences.

‘But we mustn’t forget that sustaining the National Portfolio comes at a real price in terms of the reduced size of our investment in these other areas over the next three years. We have increased Grants for the Arts, but have cut things like capital spending significantly. The long term health of our arts and culture depends on continued commitment from central and local government to invest in our sector.’

ACE has also attempted to redress the hotly-debated funding imbalance between London and the rest of England. In 2015-16, London will receive 47 per cent of the share, whilst 53 per cent will be spread amongst the regions.

In Salford, The Lowry announced that alongside maintaining its status and funding as an NPO, it has also received its largest ever private donation. Andrew and Zoë Law of the Law Family Charitable Foundation donated GBP1m to the multi-arts venue.

Michael Nabarro, co-founder and managing director of Spektrix, said that organisations need to improve their ability to attract private donors, since ACE support has largely remained static: ‘A consensus is building around the idea that philanthropy is the great un-tapped opportunity in British arts fundraising. With traditional funding sources drying up, identifying and communicating with high net worth individuals in the audience will be essential to future success.

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He continued: ‘Too many arts organisations struggle to articulate a compelling case for philanthropic support, and need to develop skill sets that will enable them to identify and reach out effectively to wealthy individuals. Getting both those elements right has to happen, and soon.’

ACE’s chair Peter Bazalgette said: ‘When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done. We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector.’

Image: The Lowry, courtesy of the venue