Firstsite in Colchester, which received £814,000 NPO funding in 2014/15

ACE to allocate more lottery money to national portfolio organisations

Rebecca Atkinson, 06.06.2014
Move to offset grant-in-aid cuts
Arts Council England (ACE) has announced it will increase the amount of lottery investment to its national portfolio funding programme from next April to offset cuts to its grant-in-aid.  

In 2014/15, 696 national portfolio organisations (NPOs) received a total of £355.8m, including £327.5m grant-in-aid and £28.3m lottery investment.

In 2015/16 and 2017/18, the level of lottery investment will increase to about £60m a year. Grant-in-aid will decrease to £271m, making the total budget £331m.

In a statement, the arts council said that a 36% reduction in grant-in-aid since 2010 meant it would only be able to support between 250 to 300 NPOs in the next budget round unless it increased the amount of lottery investment. The lottery money will be used to fund touring activity and organisations that work with children and young people.

Alan Davey, the chief executive of ACE, said: “This is a pragmatic step. Since the National Lottery began these funds have allowed the arts and cultural sector to deal with the challenges of the day.

“Now, during a tough climate for public funding, they are enabling hundreds more NPOs to be funded. All NPOs will be treated the same – they’ll all contribute to our shared goals and ambitions for a thriving cultural landscape.

“The biggest proportion of our portfolio funding will still come from grant-in-aid, a vital part of the funding model. We believe lottery funding must only ever play an additional role and grant-in-aid should always support an infrastructure of great art and culture in this country.”

David Fleming, vice-president of the Museums Association, said: “This announcement demonstrates that there is a lot less public funding available for cultural activity, which means that many organisations are faced with cutting back on jobs and activity.

“In these circumstances the need for national cultural policies and strategies is greater than ever. The arts council can be commended for its pragmatism, but let's not pretend that this is good news, or that cultural funding inequalities in the regions and nations have been addressed.”

The change means that some NPOs that focus on touring or working with children and young people will be wholly funded through lottery money.

ACE was recently criticised in the Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England (Place) report for “eroding” the guiding principle that arts lottery funds should be for new and additional activity.

The report claimed that lottery proceeds are increasingly being used by ACE to fund organisations and regular programmes of work previously funded through grant-in-aid.

The arts council said that although lottery funding does not substitute for government funding, “where appropriate it complements government and other programmes to achieve the greatest possible impact across the whole of the country”.