An Introduction to… Arts Funding

money provided, especially by an organization or government, for a particular purpose.
"funding for the project was provided by the Housing Corporation"
synonyms: grant · allowance · endowment · contribution · donation ·


Arts Council England
ACE distributes government money from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), and the Department for Education (DfE) via its funding for National Portfolio Organisations, Music Education Hubs and Major Partner Museums. It also distributes the proceeds of Lottery ticket sales via funding programmes such as Grants for The Arts, Artists’ International Development Fund, Strategic Touring Fund and Capital funding (these are known as ‘strategic funds’). Most funding programmes are open application but have eligibility criteria are directed at achieving a specific outcome, so always read the guidance thoroughly before applying.

British Council
The British Council is funded by the Foreign Office to promote British culture abroad. It co-funds some specific initiatives with Arts Council England (AIDF and Re:Imagine India to name two), and organises and promotes overseas projects and tours for British performing artists. It also programmes and manages the bie-ennial Performing Arts Showcase in Edinburgh which is seen as a key launchpad for artists wishing to tour internationally.

Local Authority
Local Authorities do not have a statutory duty to fund the arts, but many do, whether by funding events and organisations in their locality, by contracting out cultural provision to third parties, or via open application grant programmes. Check your local authority’s website for details.

Proceeds from lottery ticket sales are distributed among a range of ‘good causes’. (Arts lottery funding is overseen and distributed by ACE – see above). A range of other lottery funding programmes may have crossover relevance for artists & arts organisations, for example:
•    Awards for All
•    BIG Lottery
•    Heritage Lottery Fund
•    National Endowment for Science Technology & the Arts

Creative Europe
European Union funding for cultural projects.  It’s not recommended unless you’re an established organisation, as it’s quite process-heavy.


Grant Making Trusts
(Also known as Charitable Trusts or Trusts and Foundations.) There are hundreds of trusts in the UK which award money from private sources (such as wealthy individuals, endowments, or the charitable arms of businesses) to a wide range of ‘good causes’ including the arts.  Amounts range from a few hundred pounds to six figure sums. The ACE website lists some of the major trusts that fund the arts, but it’s also worth looking at trusts that support activity by location and issue (eg. homelessness, addiction, young people) if these might be applicable to your project. Your reference library should hold copies of directories of grant making trusts, or software programmes such as Funder Finder or Grantseeker which are searchable databases of trusts.

Crowdfunding is a good way to raise modest amounts by asking friends & family and potential supporters to put cash into your project, often in exchange for benefits or rewards. Most people have heard of kickstarter, but there are a range of other crowdfunding platforms available which charge variable commission fees.

Business Sponsorship
Sponsorship is when a business gives you money (or goods or services with a cash value – known as inkind sponsorship) in exchange for negotiated benefits for the business (eg. free tickets for its employees, exposure of their brand to your audiences). Sponsorship differs from other forms of funding in that it is a transaction or exchange. There are also tax rules around sponsor’s benefits, and potential bear traps around intellectual property (such as to what extent a sponsor might seek to influence your creative outcomes) so approach with caution, do your research, and get advice from Arts & Business.

Private Donors (individuals or businesses)
Unless you have existing relationships with wealthy individuals or businesses this is a time-consuming way of raising relatively small amounts of cash, so not generally recommended for small arts businesses or individual artists. An alternative, ‘DIY’ way to raise funds from individuals would be to hold a private ‘friends and family’ performance or event in exchange for a minimum donation – and promote it via an online ticketing system such as Eventbrite.


  • All funders have priorities - do your research to ensure you and your project fit with the aims and eligibility criteria of the fund you’re applying to. 
  • Set up a database or mailing list (using excel) of all potential funders, and a target list for each project.
  • Plan your fundraising campaign well ahead to ensure you have time to write the application and wait for the outcome before your project starts.
  • Make sure you understand and follow the application processes required by each  funding body: They vary widely in complexity, formality and turnaround time.
  • Learn how to sell yourself and your ideas on paper. If writing is not your strength, ask for feedback from someone who is good at it, or ask someone else to write it for you.
  • The more specific and detailed you can be about your idea and project (the what, where, who, why, when and how) the more convincing your application will be.
  • While you should write with confidence about yourself and your project, don’t be tempted to overexaggerate - or even worse, lie - on a funding application. Hyperbole is similarly not advised - unless it’s a quote from a third party about your work. 


Useful overview of different types of funding with links

Guide to private fundraising
Live Art Development Agency have produced this document for the benefit of individual artists / collectives, and arts administrators / producers whose work is with small to mid-sized organisations and initiatives.

Arts Council’s guides to funding from other sources

National Arts Fundraising School
A week long intensive course covering a range of types of fundraising. They guarantee you will raise at least the equivalent of the course fee in the 12 months afterwards or you can apply for a refund.

Arts Fundraising
Organisation providing advice, information, discussion, training in arts fundraising and philanthropy.

Short courses for theatre professionals
The Independent Theatre Council  runs good short courses in many aspects of arts management and producing, including fundraising basics.

Offline template of the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts under £15K application form
This is really handy!