Arts Council England has announced that the application process for National Portfolio Funding for 2015-2018 will open in January 2014.
The process will allocate just one year’s worth of actual funding ‒ and that from a pot reduced by 5% as a result of the coalition government’s recently announced spending plans for 2015/16 ‒ but ACE has nevertheless confirmed that it will make a three-year commitment to national portfolio organisations (NPOs).
‘I simply can’t predict what a future government will do, none of us can,’ said ACE chair Sir Peter Bazalgette on the BBC’s Front Row this week. While ACE’s lack of future knowledge ‘is a problem’, he said, ‘what we will do is make a three-year commitment to those organisations ‒ but we haven’t got complete certainty on year two and year three’.
Both Bazalgette and ACE chief executive Alan Davey emphasised that there will be changes in the makeup of NPO funding. ‘The application process will result in some organisations not receiving funding while others may see their funding go up or down,’ wrote Davey in the Guardian. ‘We’ll also be welcoming applications from new organisations.’
‘There will be a swapover, there will be renewal,’ said Bazalgette, ‘and I don’t call that salami slicing.’
Asked whether there might be a high-profile casualty ‒ Front Row presenter Mark Lawson suggested one of London’s two major opera houses ‒ Bazalgette said that: ‘Broadly speaking I see us continuing to support all the organisations in the main genres ‒ visual arts, performing arts and the rest ‒ so it isn’t Arts Council policy to withdraw completely from organisations.’ He said he supported the funding of both the Royal Opera House and English National Opera: ‘I think a world class leading capital of the world, as London is, should have two opera houses ‒ but they should be differentiated.’
Further details of the application process will be made clear in late autumn, said ACE, which also announced a fourth round of large capital grants from 2015 (the third round opens to applicants in October this year).
Lawson said ACE had been ‘played like a fish’ into presenting a 5% cut as positive news, but Bazalgette said the figure was ‘a result, definitely’ and that, in the context of widespread heavier cuts, ‘I don’t mind being played like a fish’. Davey wrote that it was ‘a respectable outcome in tough times’.
Click here for ACE’s announcement.