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Arts Council England has drawn on reserves and Lottery grants to save the sector from an "unsustainable loss of revenues".

ACE says its responsibility is to "sustain our sector the best we can"

Corban Lundborg

Arts Council England (ACE) has drawn the majority of its emergency reserves into a £160m response package for individuals and organisations affected by Covid-19.

Flagship programmes Creative People and Places, Developing Your Creative Practice and National Lottery Project Grants, ACE's main funding stream, have been suspended for 2020/21 and reallocated to stem the "acute" financial crisis facing the cultural sector: "Evidence shows that closures and cancelled contracts are causing massive and unsustainable loss of revenues," the funder says.

Chief Executive Darren Henley said "our number one priority is to do everything we can to help individual artists and cultural organisations to stay afloat".


The selection process for the 2022-26 National Portfolio, due to begin in autumn, has been postponed and current portfolio arrangements extended to 2023.

"It’s going to be tough, but we need them to be in the best possible shape to use their creativity to benefit people’s lives in villages, towns and cities across England once our communities begin the process of recovering from this terrible virus," Henley said.

What's available?

Of the £160m, £90m will be ringfenced to support National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), £50m will be for organisations outside the portfolio, and £20m will be available to individual creative practioners, including freelancers.

Individual artists will receive grants of up to £2500 from the £20m pot. ACE is also planning to make grants of up to £4m to its exisiting benevolent fund for cultural workers.

Non-NPOs can apply for grants of up to £35,000 to get back on their feet or cotninue making work in the future.

There is no cap for NPOs, which can now request a six-month advance on current grants.

The remaining funding will be available by 30 March, with payments made within six weeks.

Who's eligble?

Detailed guidance for the individual and non-NPO funds will be published on 30 March.

A full set of criteria and guidance, including on eligibility, will follow, ACE says.

The criteria will be published alongside an explanation of the funder's decision-making approach, which was guided by an external reference group of sector professionals.

What next?

All other ACE funding programmes are under review.

ACE has already suspended funding conditions for NPOs and said it will honour agreed funding for projects regardless of whether the activity takes place.

Chair Nicholas Serota said ACE's responsibility is to "sustain our sector the best we can".

"None of us can hope to weather this storm alone, but by working together in partnership, I believe we can emerge the stronger, with ideas shared, new ways of working, and new relationships forged at the local, national and even international level."