ACE to increase regional lottery funding

Gary Noakes, 03.06.2015
Measure revealed by Darren Henley in his first major speech as chief executive
Arts Council England (ACE) is to increase the proportion of lottery money it distributes outside London, said the chief executive Darren Henley.

The revelation was made during Henley’s first major speech as ACE’s chief executive. Speaking at Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery, he said that a 5% increase will take arts council national lottery spending outside of London to 75% by 2018.

When lottery funding began in 1994 ACE opted for a 60:40 split between the regions and London, but Henley said it was time to change the formula. ACE will not set specific budgets across each geographical area but will indicate approximate funding levels outside London to prospective applicants.

“There won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach,” Henley said. “We’ll make this investment by targeted use of our strategic funds, so that we can be confident that we don’t harm London’s arts and culture sector.”

Henley pointed to the cultural evolution of cities such as Bristol, Newcastle, Gateshead and Leicester as regional success stories and announced the creation of ACE’s Ambition for Excellence fund, a three-year £35m programme, of which £31.7m will be spent outside London.

Applicants, including museums, can apply for grants of between £100,000 and £750,000 for a period of up to three years. Projects must involve the creation, production, distribution or presentation of the arts in England.

“It will develop talent and leadership in all regions, support work of increased ambition and help build ‘cultural capacity’,” Henley said.
ACE admitted that some London programmes will see a cut in funding, but said the overall amount spent in the capital, while less in 2015-16, is “significantly more” than the 2012-2014 period.

Henley also used his first major speech to call on the government not to make further cuts to ACE’s grant in aid and urge local authorities to continue their support for the arts.

“We understand that local authorities have to make tough decisions,” he said. “But we know how much they value the role that culture brings to their communities.”

Henley also revealed a plan to create a “25-year vision” for developing the next generation of England’s creative talent.

Henley will be a keynote speaker at the Museums Association’s annual conference and exhibition in Birmingham (5-6 November).