The Arts Council for England is making £160 million of emergency funding available for those organisations and individuals that make up our arts, museums and libraries. They have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of our funding.

Chief Executive of The Arts Council for England Darren Henley says that 'under normal circumstances, the launch of a fund is an exciting moment: the unveiling of a new opportunity for artists and organisations to realise long-held ambitions. This time is different. The money from these funds will support individual creatives, arts organisations, museums and libraries as they face the most serious challenge to their existence since the Arts Council came into being at the end of the Second World War. For now, we are solely in the business of helping artists and cultural organisations to get through this unprecedented crisis. By providing basic financial support, we want to afford practitioners and organisations time to stabilise, to think, and to plan for the future'.

The Arts Councils £160 million emergency response package includes:

  • £90 million will be available for National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs)
  • £50 million will be available for organisations outside of the National Portfolio
  • £20 million will be available to creative practitioners and cultural workers

Where has this investment come from?

This funding has come from reallocation of National Lottery Project Grants, Developing Your Creative Practice and our Development Funds for the 2020/21 period, and uses up almost all of our reserves.

Darren Henley adds that 'we believe these emergency response funds are essential, but they don’t come without cost. In order to release the money for them, we took the difficult decision last week to suspend several of our funding streams, including National Lottery Project Grants. This decision was based in part on the evidence that, with cultural venues closed, tours cancelled, suppliers shut down and match-funding falling away, the vast majority of projects currently submitted are simply no longer feasible. For most artforms, there’s no practical means of producing work at present, so continuing to fund projects that depend on systems that are no longer functioning was not the right way for us to steward taxpayers’ and National Lottery players’ money.

But to those who worked for months, or years, on a project, and who last week saw the chance to realise it snatched away: I’m truly sorry. Many of you have written over the last few days to tell us of your shock and frustration, and I wholly understand your dismay. Such a blow would be hard at the best of times. For it to fall now is doubly distressing: it has meant having to manage bitter disappointment on top of worries about money, and the health of family and friends. But because of this crisis, because of its enormity and its calamitous impact on the people and organisations in which we invest, we’ve had to move fast, and respond decisively.

I want to reassure you that we are still looking ahead. Over the coming weeks, we’ve committed to spending £160m to help England’s cultural ecology survive - but we’ve nevertheless held back around £57m, more than half of our National Lottery Project Grants budget for 2020-21, in the hope that we can reinstate the programme at the earliest opportunity. None of us can say when this period will end, and I know you’ll understand that we can’t make any promises. But a timely restoration of National Lottery Project Grants to help move from rescue to recovery is what we’re hoping and planning for. At that point, we will welcome resubmission of revised applications that have fallen by the wayside as a result of this crisis'.