The new integrated funding means that for the first time museums and libraries will be part of the Arts Council’s investment portfolio. Libraries will only be eligible to receive ACE funding for the arts and museums activity they carry out, and local authorities will continue to be responsible for funding their statutory work. This puts an end to the ‘ring-fencing’ of funds for arts and museums in the National Portfolio, and for libraries in Grants for the Arts, to enhance the potential for collaborative bids.

The proposal was first announced in February as ACE considered the progress it had made over the past few years and what changes would help it achieve its future goals. Practitioners were then invited to participate through a series of events and a dedicated website where they could submit their views. The consultation was managed by research agency ComRes on behalf of ACE, which has produced a special 60-page report, Arts Council England: sector dialogue on funding 2018 and beyond, on the consultation’s findings.

In the report it stated that there was overall support for the integration of funding for the arts, museums and libraries, particularly for the national portfolio and strategic funds. However, there were reservations about integration regarding Grants for the Arts funding, particularly if the amount of funding available remains constant.

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The National Portfolio will now be made up of three bands, Band 1: £40k- £250K, Band 2: £250k – £1m, and Band 3: over £1m. Those who receive less funding will see their administrative burden reduced, and those who receive the most investment, will be required to do more to contribute to all five of the Arts Council’s goals (excellence; access for all; a resilient and sustainable sector; a diverse and skilled workforce, and high quality cultural engagement for children and young people), to drive diversity, nurture talent, and to play a key role in supporting the wider sector. However, ACE have stated that it will be clear that the new bands do not imply a hierarchy of importance but enable it to match expectations against the scale of investment.

The portfolio will also include a new category ‘Sector Support Organisations’, covering organisations that offer support services to the sector, as opposed to producing arts and culture themselves.

“The Arts Council believes that everyone should have the chance to enjoy and engage with the best of art and culture, wherever they live and whatever their background,” said Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England. “We want to reach communities that currently have little cultural provision; promote greater diversity amongst our workforce, practitioners and audiences; and ensure that every child and young person has a quality cultural education. [The changes] will ensure the impact of our investment is far reaching; that we support a wider range of organisations and artists: and that we do more to develop talent, encourage ambition and champion our national creativity.”

In the 2015 Autumn Statement, arts and culture received a four-year settlement from the Treasury, which will see ACE funding remain at the same level in 2018. However, challenges to the sector have been exacerbated in the past five years, said Sir Peter Bazalgette in April, with significant losses in local authority funding totalling £56.6million. The government recently indicated there is likely to be fiscal tightening following the outcome of the EU referendum.

“We will need to plan for a range of scenarios,” said ACE in its reaction to the ComRes report. “We remain committed to a shift in investment from London to the rest of the country so we can continue to build up the cultural infrastructure across all of England. We do not anticipate that the economic picture will affect the decisions about our investment processes that we are sharing today.”

As part of the restructuring, funding agreements for the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations (of which there are 663 art organisations sharing a £1 billion pot from April 2015 to March 2018) will be lengthened from three to four years for 2018-22, to allow organisations more time to put their business plans in action.

The new NPO applicant guidance and further details about Grants for the Arts and Culture, and strategic funds, will be published in October 2016.

New Funds

Celebrating Age: Supporting organisations to become open, positive and welcoming places for older people. As well as taking arts and culture into places where older people will find it easier to engage.

Business Support: Increasing knowledge and understanding of business support within the cultural creative sector.

Building Resilience: Supporting up to four external organisations or consultancies who will work on different approaches to improve resilience and long term sustainability across the sector.

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Timeline

October 4: publication of guidance for National portfolio applicants and further details published on our Strategic Funds and Grants for the Arts.

October (dates tbc): briefings for applicants.

October 26: National portfolio portal opens.

June 27 2017: Portfolio funding decisions announced.

January 2018: New funding programmes open for Grants for Arts and Culture and Strategic Funds.

1 April 2018: Begin to make first NPO grants.