Installation view of the British Art Show 7 at Nottingham Castle and Museum, a touring programme organised by the Hayward Gallery and funded by ACE. Photo: Alexander Newton

ACE outlines strategic funding plans

Simon Stephens, 02.11.2011
New programmes for capital investment and touring
Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed how it plans to spend £440m of strategic funding over the next four years.

Its spending power is being boosted by an increase in its income from the lottery, which is expected to grow from £149.3m in 2010-11 to more than £220m in 2014-15.

The figures take into account the end of its annual £30m lottery contribution to the London 2012 Olympics and the extra income it will get following the government’s decision to increase the share of lottery money to the original four good causes, which includes the arts.

The £440m is designed to complement ACE’s £1.04bn investment in national portfolio organisations, which was announced earlier this year.

ACE chief executive Alan Davey said that the strategic funding was “about deepening the excellence agenda, about making sure people really are engaging with new audiences, and about improving the resilience of arts organisations”.

Strategic funding will be invested in three ways: targeted grant programmes; specific grant commissions; and a general strategic grant programme.


A major part of ACE’s targeted grants will be the £180m awarded through its capital programme from 2012 to 2015. Organisations will be able to apply for grants of more than £500,000, and grants above £5m will be rare.

“Previous capital programmes have been about big new brash buildings,” said Davey. “This capital programme won’t be about that; it will be about getting the most out of the existing estate.”

Capital projects will need to be financially sustainable and should not require additional revenue funding.

ACE will also contribute towards Catalyst, a £100m scheme to boost private giving to the cultural sector run with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The arts council will also spend £45m on its touring programme as part of strategic funding plans and there will be £7.5m for audience development work under ACE’s specific grant commissions programme, which is aimed at delivering particular pieces of work.

In spring next year the arts council will give more details of a general strategic grant programme for areas of work not being fully addressed by the national portfolio and the other strategic funds.

Museums, which are now the responsibility of ACE following the demise of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, can apply for grants from the arts strategic funding programme.

“In terms of museums, if they did apply, it would be for stuff that is arts related as this is arts lottery money,” said Davey. “But we are pretty open minded.”

ACE is expanding its Artsmark scheme, a quality mark for arts work in schools, to reflect its new responsibilities for museums and libraries.

For MA policy head Maurice Davies thoughts on the plans, click here