If you are an artist*, living in England, you can apply to Arts Council England via two key funding streams – Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) or National Lottery Project Grants.
However, you can’t apply for both at the same time – so you’re going to have to choose!!
*NOTE: Or any type of practitioner whose activity clearly focuses on music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, libraries, combined arts (inc festivals, carnivals, arts centres, presenting venues & rural touring networks), or museums practice, or who does work related to these supported artforms and disciplines (inc dancers, choreographers, writers, translators, producers, publishers, editors, musicians, conductors, composers, actors, directors, designers, artists, craft makers, curators, DJs, performer/creators, arts and cultural educators, community practitioners/engagement specialists, movement directors, cultural conservators, creative enablers, creative technicians).
Picking the right funding for your work, ideas & projects
Here’s a handy head-to-head comparison for making it easier to decide which Arts Council England funding stream to pick.
|£2,000 – £10,000 (+ Access Support Costs)||upto £15,000 + over £15,000 (+ Access Support Costs)|
|4 x deadlines per year||On-going, apply any time|
|What they are looking for:||What they are looking for:|
|A plan for your own research & development activities (R&D)||A project with public or community benefit|
|Supports your individual (or your small collective’s) professional development||Supports more people to see / make / take part in arts & culture|
|Supports you to find new and/or more ambitious ways of working||A project that is pretty “ready to go” and just needs cash|
|Can include accessing mentoring / training, building new networks & collaborations, and/or international travel||A project that has other “match-funding” (and often some kind of partnerships, or other agreements in place)|
|Uses money to support your time, travel, materials, equipment etc to explore (that wouldn’t be possible otherwise)||Uses money to bring arts & culture activity to a public audience (that wouldn’t be possible otherwise)|
How do I apply?
For both programmes, you’ll need to register on Grantium.
Here’s a useful set-by-step video explaining the process of setting up a user account.
And here’s the link for the website where you sign up https://applications.artscouncil.org.uk/frontOffice.jsf
It’s important to do this ASAP, because it can take 5 days or so to process new accounts.
To start, I’d recommend working offline (in a document with all the question headings). After that, cut and paste your answers into the Grantium system.
Here are 2 x ways to find documents to make this process easier:
- Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) – Bluecoat’s DYCP Planning Template (from their blog on Funding for Artists)
- National Lottery Project Grants – My ACE Cheatsheet
In addition, if you are applying to DYCP, you’ll need to find out when the next round opens / what the upcoming deadlines are – see https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/DYCP
If you are applying to National Lottery Project Grants, you can submit any time – see https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/projectgrants
How do I know what to write?
I’d recommend doing a few things:
Read some examples of successful funding bids via The White Pube’s Successful Funding Library – make notes!
If you are applying for a National Lottery Project Grant, work through the pointers in this Quickstart Guide to Arts & Community Fundraising
Or if you prefer learning via videos, sign up to Social Making: Arts and Community Fundraising Online Training with Rachel Dobbs
Work with a friend to talk through your ideas – get them to ask you the questions & prompts on the form, and speak your answers out. Record your conversation using the Otter app (which will auto transcribe your conversation) and then you’ll have a really useful starting point (some notes) to work from.
Get somebody you know who has previously applied for ACE funding to read your application draft. This might be another artist or someone who works at an arts organisation. But, if you don’t know someone who has done this before, it’s a good time to get in touch with your local / friendly arts org and see if they can help!! If they are up for it, their feedback will help you spot things that you could improve and will make your application even better.
What if writing applications is really hard / impossible for me?
Perhaps you find writing proposals, applications and/or budgets to be a barrier because of a specific access need?
For example – maybe you are D/deaf or disabled, have an on-going physical or mental health condition, or have a different way of processing the world – eg dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, aspergers, ADHD, Autism etc.
If so, Arts Council England offer pre-application Access Support. You don’t need to have a formal diagnosis – you just need to have identified a barrier in the application process.
You’ll know & understand the best type of support for you.
This might include things like:
- paying for a support worker to work with you to get the application written & submitted
- paying for translating applications made in BSL into written English
How can I get Access Support?
To start this process, email email@example.com with the email title “Access Support Request” and a message that says:
- which funding programme you want to apply for
- what type of access needs you have (you can be really brief here, it doesn’t need to be a long explanation & you don’t need to prove anything to them)
- which parts of the application process are a barrier for you
- what type of support you need (eg – time with a support worker to take notes, or BSL interpreter)
- the name & email address of the person you’d like to work with to support you
Your support worker can be anyone you feel comfortable to work with to help you make the notes you need to complete the application – it could be a friend, relative, colleague or someone who works in an organisation.
If you find these resources 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…