Grant Funding
How to Apply for Arts Council Funding

Don’t Panic’s How To… series aims to educate, inspire and inform readers on a range of different topics within the arts and creative industries – drawing on anecdotal insights, hints, tips and tricks taken directly from those in the know. In so many ways, art and culture contribute unending value to society. Art and culture give life its colour. They provide relief, stimulation and life satisfaction. They promote self-expression and empathy, and provide invaluable tools for making sense of the world. On a societal level, art and culture encourage community building and social cohesion, and contribute massively to a healthy economy. Studies show that a cultural education helps to produce happy, well-rounded adults, who perform better at school, contribute more to society, and enjoy a higher overall quality of life; and in 2015, cultural organisations contributed $27 billion to the economy, making the creative industries the fastest growing sector in the UK. Despite this, art and culture are under threat in the UK. Government spending cuts since 2010 have placed huge financial pressures on local arts organisations, and parallel cuts to education have led to the arts being increasingly sidelined in school budgets. Artists and cultural institutions face financial hardships from all directions, with rocketing property prices regularly pushing creative companies out of their homes, and an ever shape-shifting economy making it increasingly unclear how artists should hope to monetize their efforts. For these reasons, funding platforms like Arts Council England are important now more than ever. Using money from the Government and National Lottery fund, the Arts Council is responsible for distributing nearly £445 million a year to art and culture projects across the UK. Of this sum, around £100 million is accessible to the public via the open access Grants for the Arts fund, which provides individuals and organisations with the opportunity to apply for awards of between £1,000 and £100,000 for arts-related projects of all shapes and sizes. Each year, the Grants for the Arts fund provides invaluable financial assistance to thousands of individuals and organisations across a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Whether you’re looking to launch a new record label, hold a boutique music festival, or open a community arts centre in your neighbourhood, there are tonnes of funding options available. But what does the application process involve, and what sort of chances do you stand of being successful? “We want projects to be well planned, well managed and financially viable” Abigail Knell, Arts Council England Arts Council England works to help support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations to provide and produce great art and culture for everyone. Grants for the Arts is an open access funding programme funded through the National Lottery that supports fresh talent, individual artists, communities and organisations. From music to visual arts, theatre to literature, and dance to combined arts, Grants for the Arts can provide between £1,000 to £100,000 to support a project. In the year April 2016 – Mar 2017 we received 10,941 applications to Grants for the Arts – and offered in total £100,160,376 to 5,411 grants to individuals and organisations. Over the past three years, individuals received between 41-46% of the Grants for the Arts awards. Through Grants for the Arts we can support large and small scale projects, from thought-provoking to challenging, stimulating to engaging. All the projects we support must meet our four criteria for the programme: quality, public engagement, management and finance. As well as delivering stimulating and exciting work and engaging a wide range of people, we want the projects we support to be well planned, well managed and financially viable to make the most of our funding. “It has to be more than purely a commercial venture” David Hine, Author of Arts Council-funded graphic novel Lip Hook I knew in general terms that there were Arts Council Funds available but it didn’t occur to me that they would be available for graphic novels until I started to see the acknowledgments at the front of a lot of books coming out from Jonathan Cape and SelfMadeHero. The application process is actually quite complex. You have to supply a lot of detail about your target audience and all the peripheral activities you will be involved in. These would include blogging about the creative process, appearing at conventions to publicise the book and going to school, colleges and universities to lecture and conduct workshops related to the book. This has to be more than purely a commercial venture. It’s all about how you present the project. The Arts Council is there to distribute public money to projects that will benefit the public. They need to know that we will be engaging with as wide a cross section of the public as possible, particularly when a project is not aimed at a minority group. Lip Hook is a graphic novel that we described as “…a coming-of-age story propelled by the clash between traditional patriarchy and a group of powerful women.” It raises important social questions, particularly about defining gender roles. To that end we set up discussions and workshops where we will be talking with the public and students about those issues. One of the key elements of any application is to make clear how your work engages the public on many levels. It’s very helpful if you have a history of working professionally, can plan schedules of work and budget efficiently. I imagine it would be much harder for someone working on their first major project to show that they can produce the project as planned. Get help and advice on filling out the form. Be realistic about the time you will need to complete your project and demonstrate your ability to follow a schedule. Define your target audience and explain how you will find and engage that audience. It\'s very useful to have a blog that includes samples of past work as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts with as many followers as possible to show that you are keeping in touch with your potential audience. Know what you are aiming to achieve and communicate that as honestly as possible. If the aims are worthwhile and realistic the Arts Council is there for you.” “Funding allows artists to take creative risks that might not pay off financially but could have exciting results” Jacob Thompson-Bell, Composer and producer of Arts Council-funded project ONE To apply you need to clearly express what you’re doing. Avoid hyperbole and press language (which can often be used to mask weaknesses in creative ideas) and then identify in some detail who you hope to reach as an audience or group of participants (including artists) and how you’re going to reach them, i.e. marketing, communications, etc. Take time over your application - keep thinking about whether someone completely separate from the project would understand what it is you’re writing about, and keep asking yourself if there is a clear idea expressed in each part of the application. Try to make sure the different sections match up and support each other - for example, if you say your project is about reaching different types of audiences but don’t have a clear marketing plan for how to reach them then there’s a missing link. Funding is extremely important to the creative industries. It allows artists to take creative risks that might not pay off financially but could have exciting artistic results. I think that public funding has a very important role to play alongside other forms of creative enterprise. It can also be a kind of seal of approval - to say that someone else believes in your work, and in that sense it’s very helpful - working alone as a freelancer on projects, you sometimes need to know that people outside of your own bubble support what you’re trying to achieve. Source:

Grant Funding
How to find grants

What is grant fundraising? Grants are a type of funding offered by grant-making bodies, such as the National Lottery distributors (including the Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council), charitable trusts and foundations. Some public sector authorities, such as local councils, NHS trusts or police bodies, also give out grants for specific, local projects. You may also find grants available from global corporations, where they have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme (for example, Virgin, Shell or GlaxoSmithKline). Grants are a form of ‘restricted’ funding. This means that the funding must be spent on a specified programme of activity or an agreed set of resources. Depending on the size of the grant, you may have to provide a detailed budget to the funder, as well as evidence of expenditure, a programme evaluation, and regular progress updates. You may also have to sign a grant agreement or contract. In the UK, there are grants available to voluntary organisations from £100 up to £5m+. Find out more about funding from the National Lottery and trusts and foundations. Why do it? Grant funding can be used for many types of voluntary sector activity. The benefits, once you’ve secured the grant, are that you know how much money you will have for the period of the grant agreement. Most grant funders pay quarterly, in advance (or in one lump sum for smaller projects). This means that you can employ staff and run activities, knowing that you already have the funds required. However, you should always plan to secure new income well before the end of the project or grant period. If you plan to continue the grant-funded activity, you need to ensure that you have continuous funding to retain staff and maintain services for your beneficiaries. When are grants useful? Grant funding can be useful when you’re starting out, or to pilot a new idea. Small grants programmes like Awards for All are relatively easy to apply for and can help you run one-off projects to engage your target beneficiaries, and to find out how impactful your planned activities are. Grants are also useful for ongoing programmes that require a subsidy – ie you cannot generate any other income to cover the costs of the activity. Many voluntary organisations rely on grants to deliver services across health and social care, environmental awareness and education. Grants are often essential if you are thinking about buying land or buildings. Most funders will ask you to raise match funding for land or buildings purchases, and the application process is likely to be more complicated, with rigorous checks about how you will sustain the asset in the longer term. Can grants fund your core costs? It’s important to note that most funders prefer to fund specific programmes, rather than ‘core’ or ongoing running costs. It is very hard to find grants for core costs, so you should ensure that your grant budget includes a contribution to the core costs, in proportion to how much of those costs relate to your programme activity. For example, if you’re running a programme with two part-time project officers, using rooms within your office, your programme budget should include a proportion of your finance, HR or payroll person’s salary (to process the salaries of the project officers, carry out their induction etc), a proportion of the amount you spend on utilities (as the officers will need heat, light and power in the rooms they are using), and rent. You should also think about whether you can fund your core costs from different income sources. See our overview of funding and income for more information. Find out more about full cost recovery on the Big Lottery Fund’s guidance pages. How to apply for grants First, you need to find the funds. It can be daunting to search through thousands of grant programmes, but tools like Funding Central make it easy to find funds that are relevant to your organisation. Next you’ll need to make an application. For small grants, this might be a simple form where you’re asked to give a brief description of your proposed activity, who it will benefit, how you know it will work, and how much money you need to make it happen. For larger grants, you may need to go through a two-stage application process. You’ll probably need to provide: a description of your planned activities, with milestones and timescales to show how you’re meeting the funder’s priorities a set of proposed ‘outcomes’: ie the difference that you will make to people, communities or the environment a detailed project budget evidence of need: data, case studies and monitoring information that tells the funder about the needs of your beneficiaries, and why you think your project will meet them a description of your organisation’s experience and relevant skills a plan for monitoring and evaluating the impact of your proposed activities. This can take several months, or longer for large capital projects. You should plan your grant pipeline at least six months in advance. If you\'re successful in your application, you\'ll need to carry out your activities in the timescale you’ve agreed with your funder. It’s important to keep up a good relationship with your funder. Although most funders will not guarantee that they can fund you again (and many will not fund the same project a second time), if you do apply again, they will look at how you’ve delivered against previous grants. If you think the project is not going as you expected, you should always talk to your funder and explain how or why you want to change things. Don’t leave it till the end of the project. Remember that funders want to spend their money. They don’t want to have to take it back. They’d much rather work with you to ensure that their grant creates impact, than find out that you’ve just pushed on with a project that wasn’t working. Who to involve Grant funding can be a lonely process – often one person within an organisation is tasked with filling in lots of applications. However, it can be useful to involve more people. Use your communications staff to help you put together case studies and quotes that can demonstrate evidence of need. These can bring your application to life and show how well you are connected with your beneficiaries. Your senior management team should be meeting to discuss a funding pipeline at least every six months – this should involve looking ahead at what opportunities are available, and assessing the likelihood of securing funding from each opportunity. You should always ask someone else to read a grant application before you send it in – ideally someone outside your team or even organisation. Remember that a grants officer may know nothing about your organisation or your beneficiaries, so it’s useful to check that what you’ve written makes sense to someone else. Should we employ a professional fundraiser or bid writer? If you’re a small organisation, it can be very costly to employ a consultant to write bids for you. Remember that they can’t do everything for you: you’ll still need to spend time educating them about your organisation and proposed activities. Even the best fundraisers can’t guarantee success – they are still up against hundreds of other applicants and are applying for a limited pot of money. Although it’s time consuming, it’s usually more efficient for smaller organisations to keep bid writing in house. You’ll have the added benefit of building up your own knowledge about where funding opportunities are, and how to write good applications. Source:

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