Lottery grants are available for large-scale heritage projects for the first time since 2017, the National Lottery Heritage Fund (Heritage Fund) announced this week.
The funder is making £100m available over the next three years through its new Heritage Horizons Award funding stream to support “transformational” projects.
Applications are open now for the awards, which offer funding of £5m and upwards. Half of the £100m pot will be allocated in 2020 and the other half in 2022.
The investment will be welcome news to the heritage sector, as large-scale grants have been on hold for the past two years while the Heritage Fund has worked on its new strategic framework, published in January this year.
The future of the grants had also been in doubt after a shortfall in National Lottery ticket sales forced the Heritage Fund to rethink its investment priorities.
The funder is keen to do more to celebrate the contribution of the National Lottery; applications must now put forward substantial proposals to recognise this, which could include naming rights similar to those agreed with private donors.
There will be a particular focus on proposals that support the Heritage Fund’s strategic priorities: landscapes and nature, and heritage at risk.
An “expressions of interest” stage has been introduced to the application process, enabling bidders to get an early indication of whether or not their proposal is likely to be successful. A shortlist of 10-12 applicants will subsequently be invited to make a full bid.
The Heritage Fund’s CEO, Ros Kerslake, said: “It is no secret that demand for National Lottery funding for good causes far exceeds available funding and we thought long and hard about whether we could continue to invest in such large-scale projects. When we consulted it was clear to us that if we stopped, it is unlikely that anyone else would be able to step in, and major, transformative heritage projects simply would not happen.
“We are now looking for bold plans – projects that demonstrate real ambition to deliver positive change within the communities they serve and put diversity and inclusion at the centre of their plans. We want to see striking initiatives that demonstrate genuine transformation for places and communities.”
The Heritage Horizon Awards are open to not-for-profit organisations or partnerships led by not-for-profit organisations. The deadline for expressions of interest is 11 October 2019.