Arts Council England’s announcement of the recipients of its National Portfolio funding includes 831 organisations and an additional £170million outside London between 2018 and 2022.
The portfolio welcomes 183 ambitious new entrants of various sizes. These will bring innovative and imaginative art and culture to more people in a wider range of places and communities all across England, without detriment to the internationally renowned cultural offer of the capital and major centres. CVAN welcomes this significant increase in investment outside London, particularly the support for the smaller-scale, diverse, innovative and artist-led outfits that bolsters the resilience of the visual arts ecology.
Sarah Munro, Chair of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network said:
“We are delighted at the depth of support that ACE has provided to the Visual Arts across the UK. There are 149 visual arts organisations in the 2018–22 Portfolio, an increase of 23.1%. It also sees a diversifying of the network with 38 new organisations receiving valuable support. The visual arts will receive a total of £44.5 million per year in 2018–22 which is a significant investment in a fiscally challenging environment. We congratulate all the members of the national Contemporary Visual Arts Network for the strength of their plans and dedication of their teams.”
CVAN and our regional networks are naturally disappointed that National Portfolio status has not been continued for some important visual arts organisations. CVAN encourages continued conversation with ACE as part of creating creative change and a vibrant visual arts ecology with a view of returning them to the portfolio.
It is important, of course, that there is a balanced view. Where areas of public funding for culture have been consistently cut, particularly the investment from our challenged local authorities, the National Portfolio money awarded through Arts Council demonstrates the absolute necessity of public money to secure and strengthen our creative output, promoting the understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts to the widest audience.
The potential to reach greater and more diverse audiences, and the need to provide professional development for artists is reliant on the capacity and vigor of the infrastructure, importantly including the small and micro-organisations who are as essential as our mid-size and flag ship organisations.
Greater funding for more visual arts organisations must make an important contribution towards achieving this, at the same time there remains untapped potential and unmet need which argues for redoubling our efforts to bring further investment to maximse the contribution that visual arts can make.
“CVAN are particularly excited to see a significant increase in investment for smaller, artist-led and artist-focused NPOs including those based in Birmingham, Newcastle and Plymouth which will see ACE supporting vibrant centres for new talent and production across England. While there are many challenges that lie ahead for the sector, we are delighted to see the strong work by our diverse organisations being supported and enabled to grow going forward over the next four years.”
This investment is part of a £84b-a-year-and-growing creative industries sector, providing essential support at the start of careers and initiatives that go on to bring great success to Britain. Furthermore, anticipating the gap left by the withdrawal of EU funds beyond 2019 – subject of course to the ongoing Brexit negotiations – how do we shore-up and sustain future public investment in the arts?
The portfolio demonstrates Art Council’s commitment to a wider participation and diversity in the visual arts. Arts Council England cannot do it alone, and a wider valuing of the arts in society from an early age must be a collective concern that we need to address together. The visual arts sector is strengthened further through the inclusion of more organisations working under the category of Combined Arts and the inclusion of bridging organisations, Museums, Libraries and major investment in areas such as Tees Valley, Plymouth, Bradford, Luton and Stoke on Trent.
The important and integral partnerships between our National Portfolio Organisations and others, both within and beyond the Creative Industries, will help to strengthen a platform for the visual arts over the coming years, and provide a firmer base to build upon for future growth. From artists to arts organisations to educators and business, the benefit of the National Portfolio investment is channeled through a wide range of organisations to the broadest possible engaged audience.
Responses from across the Contemporary Visual Arts Network can be read below:
"The South West has a wide variety of artists and visual arts organisations across the largest of regions. Its geography contains many large cities and rural areas. Continued further investment in its artists and organisations of all sizes is required to ensure a highly valued, supportive and sustainable visual arts ecology, one that works together to create, produce, present and promote high quality artwork engaging broad and diverse audiences." - Gordon Dalton, Interim National Coordinator and Network Manager, Visual Arts South West.
"Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-2022 will include thirteen West Midlands’ Visual Arts organisations, up from the current number of seven. This almost doubling of the visual arts contingent is great news for the region, and the sector is strengthened further through the inclusion of more organisations working under the categories of Museums and Combined Arts where there is increasing work in the widening realm of visual arts, and exploration of the innovative spaces between art forms...." Read the full statement here. - Craig Ashley,
Director, New Art West Midlands
"The National Portfolio announcement for 2018-20 from Arts Council England is encouraging news for the North East. The vast majority of our NPOs have retained their status including BALTIC and mima; we are delighted to see a number of new additions, including important new investment in artist led spaces NewBridge and Amber, alongside Arts and Heritage, Sunderland Culture, and Berwick Film and Media Arts. The diversity of support across the region from museums to artist led activity shows significant support to the exciting work being produced and exhibited within the region. We celebrate these achievements and look forward to seeing the positive change this presents for our already diverse ecology." - Adrienne Cassidy, Network Manager, North East CVAN
"Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation announcement for 2018-22 is welcome news for visual arts in the North West and will help organisations across the region produce and share the arts with people across our locality and beyond. Whilst recognising those organisations that continue to receive support, the addition of new portfolio organisations such as the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston; Art Gene, Barrow; Venture Arts, Manchester and Heart of Glass, St Helens, will contribute significantly to our region’s arts and culture infrastructure.Investment will better reflect diversity in our region and offer culture in both a city and rural context whilst keeping artists at its core. Ensuring the North West is a place where artists want to live, train and work is a primary aim of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network, along with producing excellent cultural programmes which enhances our places, spaces and communities." - Shelley Cater-Shipway & Emma Fry, Coordinators, CVAN North West
"We're delighted with the announcement from Arts Council England about its National Portfolio of organisations for 2018 - 22. Not only has the portfolio in the region retained the organisations which have formed the backbone of the visual arts infrastructure over the last three years, but it has also gained some fantastic additions. Artcore, Backlit, NN Contemporary Art, Primary and UK Young Artists will strengthen and diversify the sector over the next four years with new approaches, practices and audiences. Leicester and Nottingham cities expand the region's reach, joining as National Portfolio museums. Going forward, we look forward to working with partners, new and old." - Elizabeth Hawley, Director, CVAN East Midlands
"YVAN welcomes the announcement of increased investment into visual arts infrastructure through the NPO funding awards, which will strengthen the sector's ability to bring excellent work to wider audiences, and offer more creative opportunities and support to artists.
We know that the potential to reach greater and more diverse audiences, and the need to provide professional development for practitioners and opportunities to make new work, is reliant on the capacity and vigor of the infrastructure, importantly including the small and micro organisations sometimes referred to as its essential 'creative dark matter'.
Greater funding for more visual arts organisations must make an important contribution towards achieving this, at the same time there remains untapped potential and unmet need which argues for redoubling our efforts to bring further investment to maximise the contribution that visual arts can make.
In Yorkshire, the NPO awards will support five new NPOs, significant increases to two existing NPOs (including enhanced funding for The Creative Art House to support YVAN), six new Museums brought into the portfolio, important increases to two existing services, and a new NPO focusing on the creative use of digital technologies in making interactive art." - Adrian Friedli, YVAN Executive Director and Chair.
"The National Portfolio announcement from Arts Council England has continued to show confidence in the visual arts in the East region of England, building upon the success of the Ambition for Excellence grant awarded to ECVAN earlier this year. We are pleased to see continued investment across the region in Firstsite, Focal Point Gallery, Kettle’s Yard, and Wysing Arts Centre. In addition, capital funding awarded to Focal Point Gallery in Southend and Peterborough City Council will see new studio spaces built for artists living and working in the East region - an important and ongoing issue which ECVAN is keen to address - alongside vital space for local communities and creative businesses. We look forward to further developing the ambition and scope of the visual arts sector in the region and value Arts Council England’s ongoing commitment and support." - Chelsea Pettitt, Coordinator, East CVAN
"The National Portfolio announcement is a real vote of confidence in the wealth of visual arts in the South East, sustaining, widening and diversifying the portfolio. All our leading organisations receive continued support, including an uplift for the truly transformational Project Art Works and Turner Contemporary. Six south east visual arts organisations have achieved NPO status for the first time (Creative Foundation in Folkestone, Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, Milton Keynes Arts Centre, Open School East in Margate, Chichester’s Outside In, and Whitstable Biennale). They are all major contributors to the local cultural ecology with proven track records in their communities, and we look forward to celebrating their ongoing contribution to the region." - Oliver Sumner,
Manager, CVAN South East