A total of £40m of Lottery funding has been earmarked by Arts Council England (ACE) over the next two years to cover both one-off ‘exceptional projects’ and any “financial interventions” required by its National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).

Between now and the end of March 2015, the Exceptional Awards programme will provide up to 25 grants worth between £50k and £250k for organisations wanting to deliver ambitious projects that sit outside of the remits of other funding streams, though “exceptional cases” could be granted larger amounts if it is deemed that they could “make a significant additional contribution to helping the Arts Council deliver its strategic vision.” The remaining funds, likely to be in excess of £33m, are available for helping NPOs in financial difficulties.

An ACE spokesperson said: “It is not a case of the rest of the funds will be used for these, but they’re available should we need to use them, and should organisations need them. We do not know how many organisations will need these, they’re contingency funds.”

ACE claims that it cannot predict how many organisations will be interested in the new grant scheme, and therefore is unclear as to precisely how much of the money will be used for which purpose: “We have up to £40m budgeted to cover around 25 exceptional grants – it may be the case that we fund more – but this obviously depends on the level of interest in these funds, and the number of good applications we receive.”

Although NPOs are now ineligible for Lottery project funding through the Grants for the Arts scheme, any not-for-profit arts organisation in England that can “demonstrate they have the capacity to deliver new outcomes without putting at risk existing delivery commitments” is eligible to apply for an Exceptional Award.

Two other new funding programmes have been launched at the same time as the Exceptional Awards. ACE is looking for a single organisation to deliver the £1.5m Unlimited II, a London 2012 Festival legacy programme of commissions and mentoring for deaf and disabled artists. The other programme, Cultural Destinations, forms part of a three-year partnership between ACE and VisitEngland and will enable arts and culture organisations to develop their work with the tourism sector.

Originally published on Arts Professional.