A planned evaluation of the much-criticised funding portal will not lead to them retiring the system, ACE has confirmed.

Photo of frustration

Arts Council England (ACE) has stated its intention to move all its funding programmes and open grants onto Grantium, the unpopular funding portal labelled a “nightmare” by grant applicants.

The national funder has also signalled that its plans for a formal evaluation of the platform will only lead to improvements in the portal, and not to the platform being abandoned entirely.

Artist Sonia Boué told AP: “It's hard to make sense of such a position but its seeming inflexibility is consonant with the portal itself, which continues to make neurodivergent (ND) artists unwell as they struggle to use it.

“I can't imagine that mere changes to the portal as it stands would suffice to make it truly accessible for ND artists.”

System change

Three funding programmes are currently hosted on Grantium: National Portfolio: 2018 – 22; Grants for the Arts; and the Artists’ International Development Fund.

ACE’s plans suggest that the 35 funds currently on ACE’s fund finder, such as Catalyst: Evolve, Ambition for Excellence, and Strategic Touring, will all eventually be accessed via Grantium.

In an apparent nod to a previous blunder, in which all research on the ACE website was removed when it switched over to a new format, an ACE spokesperson told AP that when all open grants move onto Grantium it “will not lose any historical data in the process”.

Repeated struggles

The news follows the sector’s repeated struggles to grapple with the £930k system. One Chief Executive of an NPO compared Grantium to a “Soviet-era interface for monitoring grain harvests”, and the system has become renowned for its incomprehensible language and confusing design. 40% of all enquiries handled by ACE between 1 January and 25 January 2017 were Grantium-related.

Boué continued: “The current portal is counterintuitive and unwieldy for ND users. Currently artists bear the brunt of any cost saving in admin for ACE that Grantium may have achieved.

“We are supporting these measures with our own unpaid time (which Grants For The Arts do not cover) and in the process must be made unwell. I'm extremely disappointed to hear this news.”

An ACE spokesperson told AP it cannot say exactly when each programme will move across to the new platform.