Arts Council England (ACE) has announced new criteria for its National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) receiving Lottery funding. Those whose work is at least 50% involved with touring, and “specific types” of organisations that work with children and young people, will be wholly funded by Lottery money from 2015-18.

The level of Lottery funding diverted to NPOs will more than double over that period, rising from £28.3m in 2014/15 to £60m a year from 2015/16 to 2017/18. This is because ACE calculates that its Government Grant in aid (GiA) funding could only support a National Portfolio of between 250 and 300 organisations.

The additional Lottery money will be used to “allow many more organisations to join the portfolio” – a move described by ACE chief executive Alan Davey as “a pragmatic step”. He said: “We believe Lottery funding must only ever play an additional role.” ACE has nonetheless given a reassurance that “all organisations in the portfolio will have exactly the same status and relationship with the Arts Council regardless of whether they’re funded by Lottery or by Grant in aid”.

ACE’s current NPOs were warned last November that the next funding round would see them split into two groups – one funded from GiA and the other from Lottery revenues. No further guidance was given, however, and those applying for NPO status have not had to demonstrate how their work is ‘additional’ to arts activity that is currently funded from government sources – a requirement for Lottery-funded activities.

Controversial decision

ACE will announce the successful applicants for 2015-18 NPO status on 1 July, but there will be no further application process for those receiving Lottery funding. The decision to use Lottery money in this way is likely to prove controversial in the sector, particularly amongst those who fear an erosion of government support for the arts as politicians come to see Lottery as a simple substitute.

ACE states that its GiA has been slashed by 36% since 2010, but in one of the first interviews since his appointment as Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid described funding for culture as “virtually unchanged” since then, saying that the cuts had “almost been made up entirely by Lottery funding” and describing this as “quite a significant achievement”.

A survey by Arts Professional in 2013 found that that three-quarters of arts professionals wanted a separate application process to be maintained for Lottery funding, and two-thirds rejected the use of arts Lottery cash for the core funding of NPOs.

Article originally published by Arts Professional