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Arts bodies should 'team up' to get funding - ACE

Literature organisations could partner with music bodies under the Arts Council England's new system for applying for funding.

The funding application process, launched today (4th November), will result in a number of "strategic" organisations being chosen to to take responsibility for the development of arts beyond their organisation. Smaller organisations will then be attached to them, sometimes bringing together different art forms.

Alan Davey, chief executive of ACE, said: "It might be geographical—it might be a body with some resources or expertise in something that they offer to someone in another art form, and you get cross-art form coverage. In a regional city for example the local theatre might be wanting to offer help to publishers or translators, all sorts of stuff is possible."

Arts Council England is encouraging organisations to team up when applying for funding if they can see an overlap in their work, to boost the chances of receiving funding. Similarly, after the applications are in, ACE will look to see if any organisations can be paired up, and suggest partnerships.

In a press conference unveiling the new plans, ACE chair Dame Liz Forgan and Davey stressed that, although each application to its National Portfolio Funding Programme would be looked at on an individual basis, there would be a second stage to the assessment process, with a view to maintaining a balance of funding across the arts. Forgan said: "We are determined this cut won't dent ambition for arts and audiences." However, they did not discuss how much the funding budget would be for the 2011/12 financial year.

Davey said that they were aiming to support a balanced portfolio of literature organisations, with no definite bias. He said: "Supporting the art of writing is important to us whether it is to be enjoyed in book form or written form or new writing for the stage."

Applications for funding close on 24th January 2011. Decisions will be announced in March 2011, with changes implemented in March 2012, giving organisations a year to adjust to any shift in funding. There will be no opportunity to appeal against a funding decision. Guidelines for the
application process can be found here.

The criteria for receiving funding is based on ACE's goals and priorities set out in its 10-year strategic framework "Achieving Great Art for Everyone". Any organisation hoping to secure funding is asked to demonstrate how it meets any two, or more, of five goals. The goals are: talent and artistic excellence are thriving and celebrated; more people experience and are inspired by the arts; the arts are sustainable, resilient and innovative; the arts leadership and workforce are divers and highly skilled, and every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Most organisations are expected to apply for three years of funding, but would be able apply for only two years or as many as six, in exceptional circumstances. Speaking to the press, Davey and ACE chair Dame Liz Forgan were vague as to when the application process would be open again after the initial allocations. Forgan said: "We will have to manage the flow [of funding and applications] more skilfully."

Davey also said that organisations should not be looking to change their remit in order to secure funding, but should build on their existing strengths and character. He said: "I would hope that they would see things within the goals that we've got that they would be able to latch on to." Despite this, Arts Council England predicts the number of bodies it funds will be cut by more than 100 by 2015.

Talking about the particular situation of previously regularly-funded specialist publishers working with translations, doubly-struggling due to funding cuts throughout Europe, Davey said: "I think we always said that we don't want to substitute for other people who have pulled out [of offering funding] but if people are important to us then we will have conversations. Also, if we can help solve any problems with Europe then that's something we should take seriously as well. Although I do appreciate that in Europe it is difficult to get stuff done. That's more of a long-term aspiration than an immediate one."