ACE’s current investment cycle ends in 2018 and in preparation for this it is looking at how best to organise its three main investment strands – strategic funds, grants for the arts and its national portfolio and has published a proposals document.

One of the proposals being put forward for discussion is the integration of funding for arts, museums and libraries. The proposal document outlines ACE’s role as being responsible for the development and support of a full range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries, all of which it said collectively help to deliver its strategy.

“We believe that we should consequently adopt an integrated approach to funding arts, museums and libraries. Integrating funding will stimulate greater collaboration between arts organisations, museums and libraries, and build on their existing links,” the proposal said. “This will be a positive development for practitioners, audiences and communities: each sector will share its expertise with the others. We are already seeing the benefits of this at a local level, where museums, libraries and cultural organisations collaborate on creative projects.”

ACE believes this integration will stimulate healthy competition for funding. “Of course we are mindful of our responsibility to balance the overall cultural ecology – in practice, our initial modelling shows that the likely impact of this change will be fairly limited,” it said.

Through this approach it is confident it will still achieve its 10 year strategy, Achieving Great Art and Culture for Everyone ‘by identifying and funding work of the highest quality, representing the best public value, whether created in a museum, a theatre or a library’.

ACE plans to continue working with other national funders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund to be clear about who supports what and want to make sure that its investment approaches offer complementary support to ‘develop museums and libraries as resilient and innovative cultural hubs in communities’.

It said that it was important to note that for libraries, its funding would be focused on library development projects, while local authorities remain responsible for funding the core service itself.

Between 2010/11 and 2014/15, ACE’s total income fell from £667.2m to £638.2m – a decrease of 4 per cent but in the 2015 Autumn Statement, arts and culture received a four-year settlement from the Treasury that was better than expected (with Lottery revenues remain healthy). For planning purposes, ACE will have the same amount of government funding in cash terms as it has today until 2020.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, ACE said: “The future we want to see for art and culture is set out in Great Art and Culture for Everyone, our 10-year strategy. Since we launched it we’ve seen many successes, with exciting work and new audiences. We are also facing considerable challenges around funding, reach and relevance. The proposals here address how we invest in the talent and ideas needed to address these challenges. We must ensure public investment creates more opportunities for everyone to enjoy a rich cultural life. We look forward to working with the sector on these proposals.”

Practitioners are invited to participate through a series of events and a new website where they can submit their views. The website, which launched today will be managed by research agency ComRes on behalf of the ACE.

ACE and ComRes are also running a mix of workshops and briefing events for people from the across the arts and culture sector during February and March.

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ACE's Four Proposals Affecting Funding of Museums

To integrate museums into the National Portfolio, and amalgamate the Major Partner Museums budget.

Propose the same banding approach and application process as set out above.

That museums and libraries are offered the opportunity to apply to the Grants for the Arts programme for project activity.

That all strategic funds (with the exception of Capital) are open to museums and libraries.