Cultural Playing Field

Arts Council England Research Grants Programme by Robin Simpson
October 31, 2014, 1:59 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Tuesday I was at Arts Council England in London for a meeting about ACE’s new research grants. From April 2015, ACE will be launching a £2.5M three-year research grants programme to build and improve the evidence base around the impacts of arts and culture. ACE will invite arts and cultural organisations, higher education institutions, consultants, think tanks, foundations and trusts, and consortia/partnerships of these bodies, to develop fundable research proposals that will improve the evidence base. On Tuesday Andrew Mowlah, ACE’s Senior Manager, Policy & Research, led a roundtable discussion to get feedback on the overall delivery of the programme and to influence and help shape how ACE will manage the fund. Andrew’s presentation outlined the aims of the programme which include furthering knowledge, increasing capacity, working in partnership, influencing and making the case. The programme will open in April 2015 and all projects will need to report by March 2018. ACE anticipates making 10-15 awards per year with a typical grant being between £50k and £100k. Research projects must be a collaboration between an arts or cultural organisation and a research partner – with the arts or cultural organisation being the lead partner. There will be one funding round each year with decisions being announced in June. The funding can only be used for research, not to support artistic activity. Applications will be judged on the originality and importance of the research, the strengths of the partnership, research methods and quality, outputs, dissemination, knowledge transfer and impact. In our discussions there was a general consensus that the allocated funds were relatively small and that it might be important for ACE to identify particular themes or areas of research it wishes to encourage rather than relying on an open call. We also talked about the need to be clear exactly what the funding can be spent on: there was concern that, if most of the grant is used in fees for the research partner there may be little incentive for arts organisations to lead projects. There was also a feeling that larger arts organisations might find it easier to connect to potential research partners and we discussed the possibility of a matching to process to bring together arts organisations and research partners. Andrew and his team listened carefully to our feedback and promised to consider these points before the programme is launched next year.

Robin Simpson.


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