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

Artlink West Yorkshire's base in Leeds
Disability arts organisation Artlink West Yorkshire has been in operation for more than 44 years
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A further three arts organisations are shutting down following an unsuccessful application to Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio for 2023-26, it has emerged.

Former National Portfolio Organisation Artsworks Creative Communities in Bradford dissolved last month, while Leeds-based Artlink West Yorkshire is set to close next spring.

Cornwall Museums Partnership, which initially secured funding for the 2023-26 portfolio but had it subsequently withdrawn by ACE, has also announced it intends to shut down.

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The news comes in the week it also emerged that former Sector Support Organisation CCSkills will close. The loss of core ACE funding, equivalent to £480,000 a year, has been cited as a “significant factor” in the decision to close the organisation established 18 years ago.

Last week, Arts Professional revealed that 10 organisations that failed in their bid for NPO funding have announced they are closing since ACE delivered its decisions 12 months ago. That figure has now risen to at least 14.

Disability arts organisation Artlink West Yorkshire has confirmed it will be closing in spring 2024 after more than 44 years in operation.

In a statement Director Sylvie Fourcin confirmed the decision was down to ACE ceasing its regular funding. In ACE’s 2018-2022 portfolio, it received £60,406 annually.

“I was appointed as Director of Artlink in 2003 and it has been an amazing journey of creativity, inspiration, hope and pride. Over those many years we have made deep and lasting connections with the people we have worked with,” Fourcin wrote.

“We have also built up a team of incredible and dedicated artists who have put their heart and soul into delivering the work we do with integrity and passion.”

Speaking of the decision to close, Fourcin added: “We cannot thank enough those that have had the vision to support us financially. In particular, Leeds City Council’s art@leeds team, The National Lottery Community Fund, the Charles and Elsie Sykes Trust and Arts Council England.

"After 40 years of supporting us, the latter have decided that it is time to cease their funding and it is for this reason that Artlink West Yorkshire is no longer to operate.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged Bradford-based charity and social enterprise Artsworks Creative Communities has dissolved.

Documents available on Companies House show the company applied to be struck off in July, before being dissolved in October.

The organisation, formed in 1998, was a previous recipient of NPO funding, receiving £57,496 annually from 2018-2022.

According to its LinkedIn page, its mission was to “to harness and celebrate the creativity of people and places, whilst ensuring that participation in the arts plays a central role in regeneration and renewal”.

'Challenging funding climate'

The closure of Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) comes after its conditional offer of NPO funding for 2023-26 was withdrawn by ACE in January.

A statement issued by the partnership said an extensive strategic business and funding review found that a secure way for the organisation to move to a new operating model "does not exist within the current challenging funding climate". 

"The CMP Board has therefore made the difficult decision to commence a phased closure process," the statement said. 

"This means that, over a planned period, all members of the team will be made redundant and freelance contracts will cease at the appropriate points."

Elsewhere, Golden Tree Productions in Cornwall has been forced to downsize and restructure after missing out on becoming a National Portfolio Organisation.

A statement posted on the organisation’s website earlier in November says it will be closing its office and saying goodbye to its entire team apart from Artistic Director Will Coleman.

The statement reads: “The longer-term impact of that ACE decision, among other funding challenges and the current economic climate, is that we simply do not have the funds to meet the core costs of the company i.e., the rent, utilities, broadband, admin, finance, and comms employee wages”.

It adds Coleman will work alongside Cornwall-based freelancers to deliver Golden Tree’s projects, while the organisation does “all we can to support each member of our diligent and talented crew in finding their next opportunity”.

But it is being forced to cancel Hellfire Kernow, an annual ancient celebration which began in 2022 and “was a glorious success in 2023”, amid cost saving efforts.

Commenting on Arts Professional’s previous article, the organisation’s Company Manager Vicki Kent wrote: “Our irony is that we had the project funding secured but just not core costs and so we are having to say no to that project funding. Sad times indeed”.

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Comments

It is a great shame and also very painful for the organisations that have been forced to close down. The consequences for staff are even more serious; losing jobs when not many new ones are being created suggests longer periods of unemployment than expected. Given all this, there is still a need for an objective challenge; why did the organisations lose their funding? Was this just due to funding constraints at the Arts Council or were the recipients of long-term grant funding not delivering their mandatory objectives? This is going to be hard to assess.