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Open letter penned by staff at former NPO suggests organisation is being 'closed down' by trustees despite being offered funding by Arts Council England.

People attending a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at a Live Art Development Agency study room
The Live Art Development Agency, which hosts a range of events at its premises, was previously funded as part of the National Portfolio

DrawingDays/Creative Commons

London-based charity Live Art Development Agency (LADA) was dropped at the last minute from the National Portfolio due to concerns from Arts Council England that it was a "high-risk organisation" and is now in the process of being closed down by trustees, it has been claimed.

An open letter from LADA staff to the board of trustees - dated 5 May - claims the organisation was offered six months' funding from ACE with a view to bringing it back within the portfolio, but trustees decided to reject the deal.

The letter calls for the trustees to reconsider their decision to close the organisation and for new board members and leadership to be drafted in to keep it afloat. A petition to save LADA from closure has been started and has so far received more than 2,500 signatures.


In a statement published on LADA's website five days after the open letter (10 May), the charity's trustees dismissed the claims, stating "LADA is not closing", adding that staff had conducted a "campaign of misinformation and public shaming".

The letter, originally posted on LADA's website but since taken down, claims the decision to close has been taken by three board members, who have collectively been with the organisation less than a year. 

It said that "attesting to the dysfunction in its governance over the last year", LADA's status as a National Portfolio Organisation was "suspended" last month.

"Consequently, the Arts Council proposed a conditional funding offer for the next six months, with the prospect of then reviewing LADA and bringing it back into the National Portfolio," the letter adds.

"On Friday 28 April we were informed that you refused the Arts Council's offer and decided to gradually close down LADA instead."

New leadership

The letter goes on to call on the board to accept the "generous support" that has been offered from previous directors, Live Art UK members and the Arts Council itself to keep the organisation afloat.

"Qualified external figures should steer the recruitment of both new leadership and board members immediately and renegotiate with Arts Council with the goal of resecuring NPO status at all costs," it states.

The open letter comes a month after Arts Professional revealed that LADA was one of six organisations offered funding in November but that did not go on to become part of the National Portfolio.

Responding at the time an ACE spokesperson said they could not comment on individual cases, but said there are two reasons why conditional offers don't turn into funding agreements: either the organisation declines the offer, or during the negotiation period it is identified that the proposed activity submitted at the point of application might not be deliverable as intended.

They added that if ACE believes the risk of funding is too great, it may decide to fund an organisation outside the portfolio.

'Severely overstretched'

The open letter suggests that staff at LADA have been facing testing circumstances for some time.

"Since the beginning of 2022, we have been severely overstratched as a team, and have been asked to operate beyond our capacity on multiple occasions," it states.

"We were repeatedly denied transparency about a series of topics, including your intentions around LADA's future and the halting of the board recruitment process that started in December 2022, even though applications from candidates with great knowledge of the sector have been received.

"Our recent experience of working at LADA has been one of a profound lack of care from an organisation that presents public statements and programmes around care.

"This decision to close LADA is emblematic of this lack of care and detrimental in its consequences, and we believe it cannot be made solely by three board members who have collectively been with the organisation less than a year."

'Inflammatory campaign'

But LADA's trustees say talks with ACE are ongoing and they hope to come to an agreement "over the coming days".

"While we sadly acknowledge that a communication breakdown and decline in trust has occurred from LADA staff towards the Board, we cannot accept this as an excuse to lead a campaign of misinformation and public shaming – a serious act in breach of their contractual obligation to confidentiality around LADA’s internal matters," the statement said.

"For the sake of LADA and the well-being of its workers and community, internal clarification and alignment should have been pursued first and foremost in a commitment to cooperation and mutual understanding.

"This Board has spent the past year safeguarding LADA through severe and complex issues that have consistently and fervently been managed.

"This is the first time that under this current Board’s governance, due to staff’s actions, risk levels have escalated to such an extent creating unprecedented harm to both individuals and the organisation.

"While we’ve been urgently attending to this matter to contain its damaging ripple effects, our priority remains to finalise secure plans with Arts Council England. At the time the staff’s inflammatory campaign was released, negotiations were still underway.

"To date, we are still moving through the final stages of our agreement with Arts Council England, with the view to formalise this over the coming days. More information will be shared accordingly in due course."