Falling Lottery revenues and a commitment to more cash for NPOs in the regions will see Arts Council England spending less on strategic funding and capital investments.

Photo of dancers
A performance in a Creative People and Places project, which is funded through ACE's strategic funds

Hope Fitzgerald

Arts Council England (ACE) has warned arts organisations there may be a fall in the amount of strategic or capital funding available from April 2018, based on its expectations of Government and Lottery income.

The continuing decline in the popularity of the National Lottery, combined with ACE’s commitment to allocating more of its funding to National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) outside London, are blamed for the anticipated squeeze.

“Difficult choices”

In an update about ACE’s budget outlook posted on its website last week, Chief Operating Officer Richard Russell warns arts organisations making business and programming plans “not to make assumptions about strategic funding or Capital continuing in the same way in the next investment period”.

Although ACE is confident that its planning has “partially mitigated” against income fluctuations, Russell warns there will be “less money” for strategic funds over the next two years and the funder will be making “difficult choices” about where to focus funding.

Strategic funds, which have recently been worth around £125m annually, are earmarked for addressing “gaps in the sector, such as enhancing diversity and increasing the reach of art and cultural activity in areas with low levels of engagement”. Programmes that fall within this stream include Strategic Touring, Ambition for Excellence and Creative People and Places.

Despite the budget squeeze, Russell says ACE will “continue to focus on diversity and skills, doing more to support resilience and developing audiences and cultural infrastructure in areas where there has traditionally been low engagement in arts and culture”.

He concluded: “We believe that our investment will continue to achieve the best impact around our priorities and deliver fantastic experiences for audiences and visitors across the country.”

ACE will be announcing its funding priorities for its next four-year investment round, which will start in April 2018, early next year.

Liz Hill