NEW: ACE Project Grants application CHEATSHEET (formerly Arts Council England Grants for the Arts)

Here are 2 useful documents that could revolutionise writing your ACE Grants for the Arts applications!!! A handy ‘overview’ document (for brainstorming / planning / tracking progress) and a set of the current questions, colour coded to use with the overview to write your drafts on… You can thank me later!

Revised for 2021, here’s the current questions and requirements for your Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants application (under £15k). This funding scheme was previously known as Arts Council England Grants For The Arts scheme.

After the massive success of (and feedback from) the original #ACECheatsheet in 2016, here’s a revised ACE Project Grants application cheatsheet for the new Project Grants scheme (2018 onwards).

If you find the Cheatsheet useful, let me know in the comments below, or on twitter @RachelDobbs1. All of the resources I produce are available to download for FREE, but if you’d like to contribute to my future projects, say thank you or just do something nice for a fellow creative practitioner, feel free to donate by clicking the button below…

ACE Project Grants application cheatsheet – helping you complete the Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants application

Below you’ll find links to 2 documents to be used in parallel:

1. Overview

This document shows the whole Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants application form on 3 sheets.
TIP: Print out at A3 to use for notes, brainstorming and planning.

Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants Cheatsheet
Click here to download PDF & Google Docs versions…

2. Application Questions

This document gives you the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants application questions in full. These are colour coded with the overview so that you can fill in the application form more easily.
TIP: Use this document to work on your drafts before completing the online process via the ACE online portal.

Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants Cheatsheet
Click here to download PDF & Google Docs versions…

These cheatsheets are not intended to replace the existing advice and information available from Arts Council England, merely as a re-formatting of the info available to make the process a little easier! You can find all the information you need on the Arts Council England site –

Also, because this version is released under a creative commons licence (CC-BY-SA) it means you (anyone) can improve and adapt it – I’d really love it if you could… Drop me a line in the comments or on twitter @RachelDobbs1 with the heads up!!


Due to changes in the Arts Council online application process, be aware that you have to request access to the online application process (which can take up to 5 days)… See the Arts Council England site for more details –

ACE Grants for the arts – key steps to applying for funding image

Please feel free to comment below or tweet me with your own experiences, observations and top tips.


If you are new to applying for Arts Council grants, I would particularly recommend Applying to Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts Programme: an unofficial guide by producer, director and dramaturg Simon Day for Theatre Bristol on writing funding applications. Although aimed at theatre makers, the advice included is very relevant for all involved in DIY artist-led activity…

Similarly, check out The White Pube’s Successful Funding Application Library for LOTS of examples of completed (and successful!) funding applications.

And take a look at Jake Orr’s top tips in The Art of Writing an Arts Council England National Lottery Projects Grant Application.

If you are new to arts & community fundraising in general, or looking to improve your skills & understanding, I’d recommend having a look at this collection of useful resources to get you started…

Arts & community fundraising

If you are thinking about crowdfunding to raise match-funding for your project, I’d highly recommend you check out my quick start guide to crowdfunding!!

Quick start crowdfunding beginners guide

Rachel Dobbs is an artist and educator & one half of artist collaboration LOW PROFILE. Rachel works on a range of arts and education projects, has a long-term interest in creative approaches to community development and runs workshops, teaching & training sessions for a range of formal & informal groups including students, arts practitioners and communities – contact me for more details.


Well done Rachel. I haven’t yet looked at your cheatsheet in detail but feel that is something that is well overdue. There has been so little material available because producers like to keep their applications “under wraps” and there is still a mystique of secrecy around budgets.

Have been writing an article about funding for new musicals so it is a subject I am particularly interested in. So thanks for opening it up for further debate.
Kind regards

I agree Martin – I feel that greater communication and sharing between artists / cultural producers, and a general demystification of funding processes has the potential to be of benefit to all. I am interested in seeing the widest diversity in work produced and funded by ACE, and this can only really happen if we help to ‘level the playing field’ by sharing more and better information about how to access funds.

Rachel, you beauty. Although you do realise that at this rate there is a very real danger that actual artists might start accessing funding? Dangerous, or what? So, my question relates to the procedure, rather than the form. As a single parent with little time outside the day job, parental responsibilities, organisation of project itself, etc I have found the form to be the hurdle that kills. Have been advised to get admin help, but of course, cannot pay for any hours put into project prior to agreement to release funding. So, to what extent do you think the process itself prevents disadvantaged people from getting into the game in the first place? And what do you think could be done about this?

Angela, yes, you identify a massive problem with the application process here – the form / process itself!!! I believe that the current process of accessing funding is very time / energy intensive (often taking artists with very stretched resources away from actually making art). I also agree that it excludes access to funding (actively, but unwittingly). I agree with the sentiment of securing admin help, but too often people preparing projects that would be funded via ACE don’t have access to resources like this (because it costs money). It shouldn’t have to cost so much to access the funding itself. At the moment I don’t have a broad sweep solution for this. Hopefully, steps like this cheatsheet just make life a little easier for people (or slightly less time consuming).

Other versions of allocating funding I have seen, like Plymouth City Council’s move towards administration of arts & culture funding via matching crowdfuning instead of via an application process – see: – are equally (or more) time consuming, although with this approach, the activity at least goes into forming an important crowd of supporters around a project. It doesn’t suit all projects though and has its own unique disadvantages.

I feel that communities (of artists, artist associate schemes, local people etc) could get together to pool more of the resources necessary to help each other develop important projects into successful applications, or for there to be a way for ACE / government funding in general to pay for the provision of experienced mentors to assist in this. Sometimes, what people need most is someone who has done the process before to just do some initial hand-holding and confidence boosting until they believe in themselves that they can achieve it.

I wish I did have some solutions!!! I’d love to hear from anyone below on what they would suggest!

Thanks for this Rachel, I just made a successful application and this would have helped me do it quicker. I do feel sometimes it’s people who are good at form-filling that get the funding rather than those with good ideas, indeed ACE were really helpful answering questions but I had to get myself to that point where I understood what they were looking for me to show.

great tool and really helpful. I am currently in the middle of an application and a tiny piece of info you might want to add is that in the ‘Add Artists’ section, the box where you are asked to
‘Please outline how this artist will contribute to the activity and give a brief description of their work:’

This box is limited to 1500 characters too. It doesn’t say this in the guidance doc from ACE and the helpline didn’t know either. They had to refer the question to the Grantium management.

Hi Dawn, Thanks for the heads up – I’ll add that next time I’m updating the resource!

Hi Rachel, have been trying to download the pdfs / cheat sheets and guides onto iBooks on my phone which always works with other online pdfs but this doesn’t – so unfortunately cannot access them. am i doing something wrong?
Thanks, Sonja

Hi Rachel,
Thank you so much for creating these documents. I’m writing an application and have found the AC site so awkward to use. I wanted to be able to see everything in one place, so this has answered my prayer!

You legend 🙂

Hi Rachel
Thank you for your resource. I admit that I am confused as to why ACE don’t make downloadable versions of the application form.

After all the work you have done, I hesitate to ask for more. But one thing occurs to me. Have you thought about making a Word version of your application form cheat sheet? It would make it so much easier to type draft application.

You are amazing – thank you so much. I’ve only tried this once and got knocked back on a technicality and gave up, crowdfunding instead! This looks like a lifesaver – thank you again!

Please would you confirm if the application process and form has changed since 1 March, as I understand that ACE Grants for the Arts have been replaced by National Lottery Project Grants?



Good news Claire – you’ll see that I have revised the #ACECheatsheet above for the new scheme!

Thank you very much. I went to a presentation at a local arts centre given by an assessor from the Arts Council. Her biggest piece of advice was – the assessors are not artists or creatives. Don’t blind them with terminology. Speak in plain English and with passion about your project. Don’t repeat yourself. Try to support what you’re saying with evidence and lastly, get your numbers right.

Hi Rachel

These are brilliant thanks so much.

I think the A3 PDF (first link) points to the wrong file though, it has the questions, and isn’t the same as the A3 overview google doc.

Well spotted Omar – thanks for the heads up! I have swapped them back round now, so all links should point to the right places again. Thanks for letting me know.

Hello Rachel and thank you so much for this! Where would someone that wants to create Augmented reality designing business for museum interpretation apply to in 2019?

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