Reporting requirements: NPO leaders share their frustrations

Illuminate website login page
25 Jan 2024

Nearly a year into the latest investment round, many National Portfolio Organisations are finding the new reporting requirements unduly burdensome - at best - and, in some instances, unfit for purpose. A group of NPO Chief Executive Officers explain their struggles.

Arts Council England: What is to be done?

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09 Apr 2024

Andrew Pinnock, a former Arts Council officer, thinks it’s time for an honest review of our national development agency for creativity and culture, based on truthful foundations.

Former NPO announces closure following funding loss

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27 Mar 2024

Creative health charity Arts & Health South West said that despite turning to alternative funding models after losing its National Portfolio status last year, it hasn't been possible to secure its financial future.

Former NPO details legacy work as closure finalised

People viewing work at the Museum of Carefree exhibition at Penlee House Museum & Gallery
20 Mar 2024

Cornwall Museums Partnership has used funding from Arts Council England to secure the legacy of a number of its projects.

The Watermill: Life outside the National Portfolio

Watermill theatre
18 Mar 2024

A year after losing ACE funding, Berkshire's Watermill Theatre has had some sweet successes. Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive Claire Murray charts the downs and ups of a rollercoaster year. 

Significant challenges 'may limit opera sector ambitions'

Malcolm Ridley as Harrison Howell Kiss me Kate Opera North tour 2018
08 Mar 2024

A report into the opera sector commissioned by Arts Council England has warned that the rising costs of staging productions are outstripping income.

‘Complete turnaround’: Sector reacts to ACE guidance changes

29 Feb 2024

Revamped risk guidance from Arts Council England (ACE) marks "a complete turnaround" in its position on political or activist statements, according to artists' union.

Revised ACE guidance urges 'personal views clarity'

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28 Feb 2024

Arts Council England updates its reputational risk guidance for National Portfolio Organisations following concerns that original guidance could curtail freedom of expression.

ACE warns NPOs of 'political statement' dangers

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15 Feb 2024

Updates to Arts Council England's policies warn that "political statements" made by individuals linked to an organisation can cause "reputational risk" and breach funding agreements.

ACE: freedom of expression is ‘indisputably vital’

14 Feb 2024

Following an article AP published earlier this week, Arts Council England has issued a statement explaining its position on freedom of expression and reputational risk for its funded organisations.

Key NPOs cut carbon emissions by 40%

14 Feb 2024

A group of 30 Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) responsible for producing around a third of the portfolio's total carbon output have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by two-fifths since 2018, a new report commissioned by ACE has revealed.

The Culture, Climate and Environmental Responsibility annual report 2022-23 utilises data provided by 2018-23 NPOs covering a variety of environmental impact areas such as touring, business travel, electricity and gas use, and waste, focusing on the completed environmental reporting of 656 organisations - 79% of the current portfolio.

The report, produced by the culture and environmental charity Julie's Bicycle, includes data from 30 'Spotlight' organisations chosen because they have been identified as being responsible for around 30% of the carbon emissions created by NPOs.

Among this group – which includes the Royal Shakespeare Company, Baltic Contemporary Art Centre and the National Theatre – the findings reveal that over the five years, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been reduced overall by 40%.

This cohort also reduced gas use by 32% and electricity by 19%. However, some of the reduction in GHG emissions is due to the decarbonisation of the National Grid.

For example, the report states that in 2022/23, the actual reduction in carbon emissions associated with improved/reduced electricity usage is 13%.

Overall, the report found that NPOs have reduced their energy use by 20% over the last five years.

Examining insights provided by 562 NPOs in 2023 as part of the Beyond Carbon survey, the report found that 94% of NPOs now feature environmental sustainability in their core business strategies, compared to 78% in 2018.

Nearly three-quarters said they have either programmed or produced work that explores environmental themes. This figure was just 48% in 2018.

The upward trend is continued in several other areas, with 66% of the NPOs formally recognising environmental responsibilities in job roles - up from 44% -  and 81% having taken steps to eliminate single-use plastic compared with 64%.

While action to be more sustainable is often perceived as costly, 52% of the respondents reported financial benefits from their actions, and 55% reported creative and artistic opportunities.

In her introduction to the report, Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, called for decarbonising in the arts to become "business-as-usual", adding that "pathways to decarbonisation and regeneration are central to cultural purpose and relevance".

Former NPO opens permanent base in Exeter

05 Feb 2024

Touring theatre company Theatre Alibi is set to become an arts venue after opening a permanent base.

Prior to losing its Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio status, which equated to £241,597 of annual funding, the company developed touring plays from a base at Exeter’s Emmanuel Hall.

It now plans to use the hall as a child-centred arts venue, named The Centre for the Imagination for Young People and Children.

The space will host its first event during the current half term and plans to host and share the work of other creative organisations.

Chief Executive Debbie Bucella told the BBC the organisation reached 13,000 children annually with its tour.

"When that funding got removed, sadly we had to stop doing that work, but we looked at what our assets were and the biggest thing that we have is this building," Bucella added.

"We decided we would reach children and still give them something spectacular and a great cultural experience but just within our own building".

An Arts Council England spokesperson added: "We're thrilled to see children and young people experience Theatre Alibi here in Exeter".

"Thanks to public funding, we are able to support their pivot to a new model at Emmanual Hall so that audiences of all ages can get creative."

ACE: Sharing concerns won't harm NPO funding chances

Image or ACE webpage with headline Resources and reporting
31 Jan 2024

In last week’s edition of Arts Professional, a group of Chief Executives of National Portfolio Organisations expressed their frustrations to Arts Council England about increasingly onerous reporting requirements. Here is ACE's response. 

ACE in talks on future of Illuminate data platform

The PricewaterhouseCoopers logo on the side of a tall building
25 Jan 2024

Contract for Illuminate data platform ends in March 2026, a year ahead of the end of the recently extended National Portfolio for 2023-27, raising questions over its future.

ACE portfolio extension: NPOs wary of 'standstill funding'

Helen Sherman as Dorabella and Máire Flavin as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (2016), Opera North
18 Jan 2024

Arts leaders have reacted to Art Council England's decision to extend its current funding portfolio until 2027.

Does ACE’s latest intervention go far enough?

Sean Bates and Joseph Taylor in The Great Gatsby
17 Jan 2024

More can be done to help struggling arts organisations, says Arts Professional's Neil Puffett.

ENO confirms Greater Manchester move

Aerial View of City Buildings in Manchester
05 Dec 2023

The opera company says it plans to work with multiple partners and venues across the Greater Manchester region with a focus on new developments in the artform.

Further closures of unsuccessful NPO applicants

Artlink West Yorkshire's base in Leeds
15 Nov 2023

Three more organisations announce their closure after failing to secure core funding from Arts Council England, while a fourth will “radically restructure and downsize”. 

Actors lead 'flash mob' to reopen Oldham Coliseum

Save Oldham Coliseum campaigners outside the theatre holding banners and balloons
14 Nov 2023

Campaigners call for historic Oldham theatre venue to be reopened, claiming planned replacement will be too small for a producing company.

Rising number of unsuccessful NPO applicants shutting down

A performance of 8 Songs for a Mad King by Psappha
08 Nov 2023

In the year since Arts Council England announced its funding decisions for 2023-26, the number of organisations shutting down after unsuccessful bids has hit double digits.


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