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A total of 276 new organisations have been added to Arts Council England's National Portfolio for 2023-26, with increased funding outside London and higher investment in Black, Asian and Ethnically diverse-led organisations.

ACE NPO decisions graphic with image of circus performers - Extraordinary Bodies

A total of 990 arts and culture organisations will make up the National Portfolio for the next three years receiving a combined £446m a year between them, Arts Council England has announced.

Revealing the outcomes of its Investment Programme for 2023-26, ACE said a total of 276 new organisations have been added to the portfolio, indicating that 714 organisations from the previous National Portfolio (which consisted of 828 organisations) will continue to be funded, with some 114 missing out.

As part of efforts to level up culture by providing a greater proportion of funding to areas outside London, Levelling Up for Culture Places, such as Blackburn with Darwen, North Devon and Mansfield, will receive £43.5 million each year - a 95% increase in investment. 

Meanwhile, 24 organisations have been accepted onto ACE's transfer programme to move their base to another area of England outside of the capital.


The new portfolio is more representative with 158 Black, Asian and Ethnically diverse-led organisations being funded, an increase from 53 organisations in the last portfolio. This represents 8.4% of the total portfolio investment - £37.7m a year. 

Disablity-led organisations will receive 1.6% of total investment, sharing £7.3m per year between them.

There will be a 20% increase in organisations delivering creative and cultural activity for children and young people including joiners to the portfolio such as Midlands based MISHMASH, who introduce pre-schoolers to classical music, and an increase in funding for the renowned Grimm and Co in Rotherham, who nurture children’s creativity and writing.

Funding cuts

However, many organisations are facing difficult decisions after seeing their funding reduced or cut entirely.

The Donmar Warehouse, a 251-seat theatre in Covent Garden, London, has had all of its funding cut and will not be in the National Portfolio. The same is the case for Hampstead Theatre.

Another organisation that will not receive regular funding from ACE is English National Opera, based in London. It had previously received £12.6m a year as an NPO.

However, it has has been offered investment from Arts Council of £17m over the next three years to create a new base out of London, potentially in Manchester. 

"We plan to continue to manage the London Coliseum, using it to present a range of opera and dance whilst maximising it as a commercial asset," a statement said.

Meanwhile the Royal Opera House will see its funding drop by 10%. Other opera organisations affected by funding reductions include the Welsh National Opera (down 34%), and Glyndebourne in East Sussex has seen its funding halved.

Despite the redistribution of money outside the capital, London will still get the largest proportion of funding at £151.9m.

Organisations in the North of England will receive £127.9m, those in the Midlands will receive £83.6m, the South East gets £45.8m, and the South West £37m.

A total of 24 organisations plan to relocate from London by October 2024 as part of ACE's transfer programme including 18 NPOs, and six Investment Principles Support Organisations (IPSOs).

In terms of disciplines, the largest proportion of funding will go to the theatre (£111.9m), followed by combined arts (£81.9m), music (£65.1m), visual arts (£47.9m) and dance (£46.9m).

Museums get £37.6m, literature gets £16m and libraries get £4.2m. Organisations that are not discipline specific will receive £34.7m.

Increased access

Arts Council England Chief Executive, Darren Henley, said: “Together, each of the 990 organisations that have been offered funding today will contribute to a portfolio that is rich, varied and truly national. 

"This is our widest ever spread of investment across the country, ensuring that many more people will have access to a wider choice of exceptional art, culture and creative opportunities on their doorsteps. 

"We are in tough times but we must remember creativity brings with it extraordinary dividends, boosting our country’s economic growth, creating jobs, bringing communities closer together, and making us happier as individuals. Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits it brings, and with this investment, we believe we’ve taken a decisive step towards making that vision a reality.”

Arts Council England Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota, said the funding plans constitute "an investment in our future". 

"This portfolio will support the next generation of visionary inventors, makers, performers and artists. In particular, the growth of our funding for organisations that support and develop work for children represents a profoundly important long-term investment in our country’s talent.”

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the funding package will spread more money to more communities than ever before.

"People living in areas from Wolverhampton to Wigan and Crawley to Chesterfield will now get to benefit from the deep economic and social rewards culture can bring.

"We continue to support our icons such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Shakespeare Company, but today's announcement will see organisations in places all too often overlooked get the support they need to transform access to the arts for everyone - no matter where they live."

Arts Professional welcomes readers' opinions. Please ensure your comments observe our policy.


Is the 'levelling up' agenda operating in disguise? There is some merit in rebalancing rather than levelling up. The large national theatres and operas have over-capacity. Rather than making false assumptions, here are questions: - Did the top London and Southeast based national institutions such as the ENO ever utilise full capacity ignoring Covid and other negative factors? - There has been the view that the 'prestigious' institutions have always attracted more commercial sponsorship because they 'look good' in annual reports of large multinationals. They have sought 'endorsement by association'. For example, an international accounting firm would rather sponsor the ENO even if none of its partners and staff have any affiliations with opera. - Goven this and other examples of preferential funding and sponsorship, London based arts organisations have enjoyed financial security during recessions, shutdown such as Covid and other negative factors. - Senior politicians have tended to use the DCMS to forcibly redirect funding but perhaps under 'false pretences', a strong allegation.