Rhinegold Photo credit: Karla Gowlett
The London Coliseum auditorium

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Arts Council announces National Portfolio Organisations for 2018-22

12:31, 27th June 2017

Arts Council England (ACE) has announced its National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding for 2018-22.

The funding body has committed an additional £42.5m each year to organisations outside London, which now comprise more than 60% of those receiving funding (an increase of 4% from the 2015-18 funding period). However, chair Nicholas Serota said that this extra funding outside London would be ‘without detriment’ to the capital.

The portfolio also includes more new, small and diverse organisations, with an uplift of 8.4% in the number of ‘diverse led’ organisations since the last funding period.

English National Opera has re-entered the National Portfolio, and will remain on its current funding level of £12.38m. The news comes as a relief to the company, which has been under special measures since it had its National Portfolio funding removed in February 2015.

ACE chief executive Darren Henley said that the company had made ‘considerable strides forward’ and that their new application featured an ‘ambitious, creative programme and a sustainable and strong business model’.

CEO Cressida Pollock said she was ‘delighted’, adding: ‘This follows the huge amount of work that has gone into stabilising ENO and developing a sustainable platform from which we are able to grow. Only three years ago we were facing a very real risk of closure and it is hugely significant to see the work of the whole company celebrated through this show of confidence from ACE.’

New additions to the portfolio include the Paraorchestra and Friends, Buxton International Festival, OpenUp Music and Plymouth Music Zone, and organisations receiving increased funding include Attitude is Everything (an annual increase of 20%), Birmingham Opera Company, Brass Bands Britain (both receiving a 46% increase) and Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust (an increase of 93% to increase artistic and digital output and broaden audience reach).

However, the Royal Opera House’s annual grant has been reduced by £743,160 (a cut of 3%) and Southbank Centre has seen £826,000 taken from its annual budget (a cut of 4%).

Royal Opera House chief executive Alex Beard confirmed that the company received the amount it applied for, in order to allow the Arts Council to prioritise support for culture outside London, but stated: ‘We face undoubted challenges as a result of this funding cut, and will have to find ways to reduce costs while continuing to present the very best of ballet and opera. What won’t change is our commitment to artistic excellence and to enabling as many people as possible to participate in our work across the country.’

There has been a change to the funding of National Youth Music Organisations (NYMOs). NYMOs were jointly funded by Department of Education and Arts Council during 2015-18, but from 2018 they will receive their Arts Council allocation as National Portfolio funding and will receive their Department of Education funding via a restricted separate grant.

The National Portfolio for 2018-22 encompasses 831 organisations, including 183 new organisations. Of those which received NPO funding for 2015-18, 531 organisations will receive the same amount of funding for 2018-22, while 98 will see their grant increase and 12 will see it decrease.

A total of £409m will be available for the National Portfolio each year between 2018-22, including £341m of grant-in-aid and £68m of National Lottery funding; this is an increase of £37m per annum on the previous investment period (2015-18).

Musical organisations will receive £92m per annum (22% of the total portfolio spend), and the number of organisations included have increased from 94 in 2015-18 to 102 for 2018-22.

Serota said the 2018-22 portfolio would energise the sector, adding that it was ‘going to disrupt, going to challenge – above all, it’s going to change people’s lives’.


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