The government has announced a £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund to support the country’s cultural, arts and heritage organisations following the lockdown. In this article, we examine how to apply for a Cultural Recovery Fund grant from the Arts Council.

The Arts Council can make grants to organisations that were financially viable before the Covid-19 crisis but are now at imminent risk of failure and have exhausted all other options.

The grants are administered, awarded and monitored by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Who can apply for a grant?

To apply, you need to be a cultural organisation based in England. ‘Cultural’ means a cultural activity under the remit of the Arts Council such as dance, literature, music, museums, theatres, visual arts or combined arts. Individuals, independent cinemas, heritage organisations and library services are excluded.

The organisation needs to be registered at Companies House and/or by the Charity Commission or can be a local authority, university or other public sector body.

What can you apply for?

You can apply for between £50,000 and £3m to pay for costs arising between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021. These can help your organisation to remain open, recover financially and reduce activity to keep going.

The costs can include general running costs (such as rent, rates and utilities), staff costs, asset purchases to make your venue safer, advice from professionals, building maintenance, etc. Costs that cannot be funded include operating costs after 31 March 2021, costs covered by the government elsewhere (such as furloughing), capital expenditure, reflating reserves and new projects that do not represent value for money.

How do you apply?

Applications must be made online. To start, you will need to go to the Arts Council website and set up an online profile. You should do this as soon as possible as it can take a few days for the Arts Council to confirm your profile.

There are two expected rounds of grants. The online portal for round one opened on Monday 10 August and closes at 12pm on Friday 21 August.

The Arts Council expects 75% of the budget to be allocated in round one and strongly encourages applications to apply in this round.

The online portal for round two opens at 12pm on Friday 21 August and closes at 12pm on Friday 4 September.

When will you find out if your application has been successful?

Applicants requesting up to £1m in round one will be notified by Monday, 5 October. Those applying for more than £1m will hear by Friday, 23 October. Applicants requesting up to £1m in round two will be notified by Friday, 16 October and those applying for over £1m will hear by Friday, 6 November.

What information is required in the application form?

The application form will ask how much you are applying for and details of your budget. Specifically, you will be asked:

1. How Covid-19 has impacted your financial viability, resilience and sustainability. You will need to say how:

    • your organisation was financially viable before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold
    • your organisation is at risk of no longer trading by 31 March 2021
    • you have taken full advantage of government lockdown schemes and measures
    • you have exhausted all other reasonable options to remains financially viable
    • you have reduced your core costs

2. To explain how a grant will enable you to deliver a clear and cost-efficient plan to achieve financial viability by 31 March 2021

You will need to show how your plan could enable your organisation to either (a) fully or partially remain open, or (b) not reopen, minimising costs in the interim period.

3. About your organisation’s work and how it is culturally significant and/or how it contributes to providing cultural opportunities

This should explain your national and international significance within the cultural sector and/or your role in providing cultural opportunity in England. You can answer one or both of these options.

4. How you will improve the diversity of your workforce, governance, audiences, visitors and participants

This should include what steps you will take to broaden the diversity of your workforce, governance and audience.

Income and expenditure

You will also be required to complete income and expenditure tables.

The income table should detail any funding or income you expect to receive until 31 March 2021 such as earned income (for example, ticket or bar sales), other public funding (except from the Arts Council) and income from fundraising and donations.

There is no minimum match funding for the grant, and you can apply even if you have no other income.

Expenditure should include staff costs, overheads (such as rent and utilities), equipment purchases (such as PPE) and maintenance costs.

Required attachments

You will need to upload:

  • A cashflow template covering a minimum of 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021
  • your most recent management accounts for the year ending 31 March 2021
  • a balance sheet at 31 July 2020, showing levels of restricted and unrestricted reserves

For applications under £1m, you will also be asked for your most recent financial statements for the past financial year prepared to the relevant legal standard for an organisation of your size and status.

For applications over £1 million, you will also be asked for:

  • a plan showing what activity you anticipate delivering between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2020 (including any prolonged closure period)
  • your most recent financial statements for the past three financial years prepared to the relevant legal standard for an organisation of your size and status.

The above is a summary of the requirements for applying for a Cultural Recovery Fund grant, and full details can be found on the extremely helpful dedicated section on the Arts Council’s website.

Recovery loans

The Arts Council will also be offering recovery loans to cultural organisations on behalf of the government, but you cannot apply for both a loan and a grant. Guidance on how to apply for a recovery loan is not yet available.

If you would like to discuss applying for a Cultural Recovery Fund grant or assistance in putting together the required supporting documents, please call us on 020 7625 4545.

For all latest Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates, please visit our dedicated support page here.  

Warning: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied upon as formal advice. The advice we give to each client will depend on their specific circumstances. We suggest you take professional advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.