40 organisations have been awarded a total of £5.3m by Arts Council England’s new Elevate fund, which aims to enhance diversity in the art and culture sector by investing in organisations making a significant contribution to its Creative Case for Diversity.

Among visual arts organisations to receive funding is Manchester-based Venture Arts which works with learning disabled artists to create and showcase collaborative art work through projects such as OutsiderXchanges.

The award of £147,000 will enable an 18-month project to increase the organisation’s capacity and resilience, and the development of its artistic programme across the north of England. This will include the creation of a new studio space where emerging artists will have the chance to develop their own personal practice and work with other lead artists in the field.

Greater diversity

Announcing the award, Venture Arts chair Howard Rifkin said: “This funding marks an exciting and ambitious new phase for Venture Arts. It will enable the organisation to offer further opportunities to emerging and exciting visual artists in the north west of England.

“It also enables our team to share their best practice with other leaders in the field, to work towards a greater diversity in the visual arts on a national level.”

Venture Arts director Amanda Sutton added: “With our current ACE funded project OutsiderXchanges already in progress, this feels like the perfect time to build on the momentum and springboard our organisation into an exciting future.”

Elevate was developed in response to an equality analysis led by ACE in 2014 which showed that diverse-led organisations were under-represented in its National Portfolio, particularly BME and disability-led organisations. The new fund also looks to support these organisations in making strong applications to future ACE investment rounds. Initially a £2.1 million fund, the level of funding was uplifted using Lottery money due to the strength of applications received.

Abid Hussain, director of diversity at Arts Council England said: “We want to ensure our investment supports and nurtures creative talent from all communities and backgrounds. Through Elevate, we’re investing in an exciting pipeline of diverse organisations producing innovative and inclusive work that is vital to our country’s rich and vibrant arts ecology.

“Diversity is a crucial priority for the Arts Council; the increased scale of our investment through Elevate is a testament to our ambition of driving forward meaningful change.”

Other visual arts organisations to receive funding include:

International Curators Forum, awarded £150,000 to support a two-year project targeting the under-representation of professionals from BAME backgrounds at senior levels within the visual arts;

Derby-based Artcore, which receives £149,803 to increase its capacity to deliver artistic projects. The award will enable training for staff and the appointment of a new part-time Programme Manager and Finance Officer;

Ort Gallery, an artist-led organisation based in Birmingham that presents exhibitions by artists from diverse backgrounds that address social injustice. It receives £100,000 to support the production of larger projects and attract new audiences, increase its community outreach and volunteer programmes, and set up a membership scheme.

See the full list of successful applicants at www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/elevate

1. Barry Anthony Finan, Yes I wannt to do tricksserrs. Courtesy: OutsiderXchanges
2. Robert Dixon at the Venture Arts Studio. Photo: Paul Moffat

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