Arts Council England’s £37m NPO budget increase will be mostly used for organisations outside of London.

Photo of Candoco
Candoco Dance Company

The majority of organisations applying to join Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio for the first time from 2018 are self-defined as diverse-led, according to Eddie de Souza, Director of ACE’s Investment Centre.

Speaking in a recent podcast, he said: “What is really interesting in the 474 new applications, is that around 50 – 60 per cent of them are diverse.”

He added: “ …it is great to see that smaller, mostly Band 1 organisations have applied, but a lot are female-led, disability-led, so it will be interesting to see when we come to make decisions, that there is a wealth of diversity that we can bring in to the Portfolio…”

Balanced portfolio

ACE received 1,166 applications to become a National Portfolio Organisation, requesting “around £475 million” in total from an annual budget of approximately £409m.

De Souza highlighted a decision to reduce funding for “four of our biggest organisations” to allow new organisations to be brought into the Portfolio.

He outlined plans to increase the overall number of NPOs, chiming with a recent AP report that as many as 216 organisations could potentially be added to the Portfolio.

Although he said “the majority, if not all” of the £37m budget increase would be spent on funding outside of London, a series of measures will be taken to ensure that London “survives and thrives”.

It is not a question of “keeping London in stasis”, he said. The funding reduction for four of the biggest organisations will mean that new organisations will be able to join the portfolio in the London area, and is “allowing [ACE] to look at London and to make the best decisions”.

ACE would not confirm which organisations would receive a reduction in funding. It told AP: “No decisions will be made on any application until June and therefore this podcast refers only to planning figures provided to NPOs and MPMs receiving more than £1,000,000 per year.

“Such figures are only indicative and are intended to give these applicants the opportunity to work on long-term detailed business plans which meet the Art Council’s rigorous strategic, reporting and monitoring demands. We are unable to comment on individual NPO applicants at this stage of the application processes.”

Museum integration

Making reference to the integration of museums into the National Portfolio from 2018, John Orna-Ornstein, Director for Museums and Cambridge, cautioned that life will be “very difficult” for unsuccessful museum applicants, “particularly if they have been receiving funding”.

He said that Arts Council is both “the right organisation” and “properly equipped” to make decisions about funding museums, adding that every area of the country has specialist museum relationship managers.

NPO applicants will find out whether their application has been successful – and what the anticipated level of funding will be – on the 27 June in an email through ACE’s online funding portal, Grantium.



Since when has being 'female led' been about diversity? Surely it is about showing how the arts run as a misogynistic system – but maybe this man could not bring himself to say that. Women are not a minority group – just one that has been institutionally excluded for too long – hence why women go off and set up their own arts companies.