Arts Council England announces new strategic funds and a new national plan

11 November 2011

Arts Council’s strategic plan for 2011-15 re-affirms that ACE itself is facing the 50% cut to administration costs that was announced in the comprehensive spending review last year. We join ACE in its grave concerns that it will be unable to deliver its strategic goals with this planned reduction to capacity and expertise.

We know that ‘Every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts’ is one of the Arts Council’s five strategic goals and we are delighted to see this continuing commitment to a universal offer for every child (something that chimes absolutely with the CLA Principles of Cultural Learning). The Arts Council states that its priorities against this goal for the next four years will be:

  • improving the delivery of arts opportunities for children and young people
  • raising the standard of art being produced for, with and by children and young people

The plan includes details of how these priorities will be implemented nationally with headlines including; the Bridge Organisations, Artsmark (widened to museums and libraries), Arts Award, and the new Music Hubs (anticipated in the forthcoming DfE/DCMS National Music Plan). ACE will also connect with other key national providers of work for children and young people including Youth Music, the dance agencies and the National Youth Theatre.

Plans are also in place to develop a set of quality principles for work being produced by, with and for children and young people and a ‘kitemark’ scheme for practitioners in collaboration with Creative and Cultural Skills, which will provide recognised accreditation for artists working with children and young people.

The document then does on to give regional plans in more detail. Other priorities are also of relevance to cultural learning – particularly the plans to work with higher education institutions to provide opportunity and support to emerging artists.

Alongside the new plan, Arts Council also published details of £440 million of strategic funding which will be invested between 2012 and 2015. This strategic funding is for arts focussed work only. Museums and libraries can therefore only apply to this programme for work that is primarily arts focused.

The funds will be distributed through a number of different targeted programmes:

  • Catalyst which aims to build fundraising capacity
  • Capital for refurbishment of existing buildings
  • Touring designed to encourage collaboration between organisations
  • Audience focus which will grow national resources for increasing audiences (including an emphasis on family and cross-generation attendance and participation in the arts)
  • A general strategic grant programme, to open in spring 2012, which will be used to realise the priorities set out in Achieving great art for everyone that are not being met through the National Portfolio.

The Arts Council is also using these funds to look for a national provider to deliver Artsmark for the period from April 2012 to March 2015. Arts Council will retain the intellectual property of the programme and will continue to drive the strategic development of the programme in partnership with a national provider, throughout this period and beyond.

The successful provider will need to deliver:

  • an agreed number of schools and other educational organisations gaining an Artsmark annually between 2012-15, working toward 50 per cent of all schools and other education settings holding an Artsmark by 2015
  • within this, an agreed percentage of Gold Artsmark schools and other educational providers
  • expansion of the Artsmark programme to cover arts and cultural organisations, museums and libraries

Funding for Artsmark is confirmed at £1.5million per year for 2012-15, though all transition costs will need to be funded from the year one grant.

Successful applicants will be required to sign up to a three-year funding agreement with Arts Council England.

Full guidance on applying for the Artsmark commission can be found here.