Application guidance: Arts Council England Project grant.

Register on the Grantium system as soon as possible. It can take up to 10 days to be registered.

Don’t leave it until the submission deadline, because it won’t be possible to complete the profile in time.

The Grantium portal isn’t known for being intuitive and user-friendly, so spend a bit of time navigating the system. Don’t expect to understand it straight the way, but a bit of time going through the pages

will help you to visualise the work ahead. Obviously, I will support you through this to make the process more manageable. 

Do not write your application directly on the system. It is glitchy and you will lose work/time. Start by copying the questions into a word document and input them onto Grantium when completed. Keep within the word count. - you usually have an additional 200 characters leeway but you must be succinct. Remember this is characters (ie letters and spaces) not word count. So for the 1500 character count, you have 1800 maximum characters, for the 600 character section, you have 800 maximum.

"Let’s create a nation full of creators"

* Arts Council England's 10-year strategy, Let's Create, has three Outcomes

You'll need to tell ACE which of their Outcomes, listed below, you think your project will contribute to.

  1. Creative People: Everyone can develop and express creativity throughout their life.
  2. Cultural Communities: Villages, towns, and cities thrive through a collaborative approach to culture.
  3. A creative and cultural country: England’s cultural sector is innovative, collaborative, and international.

I highly recommend reading the Let’s Create strategy for the Arts Council.

It is invaluable to work out what activities they are currently supporting. In essence, they really want as many people as possible to experience cultural activity. They want to dissolve barriers and include those excluded from conventional cultural activities so that old people and young people alike and those who may not get the opportunity to participate and experience culture have enriched creative lives. Equality and diversity have always been key aims for the Arts Council, but ‘Let’s Create’ is seeking to reach absolutely everyone, so we can collectively experience creativity together. They advocate innovation, risk, and specialist arts activity, but at the same time, they want an inclusive far-reaching cultural activity that encompasses low and high culture, amateur and professional, to fulfill and transport communities. They want partnerships that go beyond ‘arts’ organisations to create joined-up cultural activity, and collaborations with new technology and business models to expand public access and create a sustainable sector.

* Overview: Give us a summary of your project:

(600 characters)  I usually write this once I have filled out the rest of the application. It is the last thing to compile. Make it a really simple outline, and feel free to use bullet points.

This application supports the:

  • Research and development of ____
  • The production of ____
  • Workshops with ____

* Tell us about your (or your organisations) relevant work and experience /

Tell us about yourself and your creative practice 

(1500 characters) You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

You have 1800 characters to give a biography. This needs to include a bit about your practice and key achievements, such as exhibitions, residencies, awards. What makes you interesting and unique. Where have you publicly presented your practice and when did it happen, who has funded you in the past? 

It is advised to write a couple of sentences about a relevant project/work/recent activity which might lead to a natural continuation of the next question of ‘what do you want to do.’

Here is a basic template from my bio which could be useful: 

Hannah Conroy is an independent cultural producer. [a couple of sentences about your practice] ie She is a freelance co-director and curator at Kunstraum; a non-profit art space with a focus on mid-career artists with a programme of exhibitions, performance commissions, publications, and community-led activities. Conroy received a MA in Curating Contemporary Art, RCA (2013) and selected for the FIAC Young Curators invitation programme (2014). 

Recent curated performances/exhibitions: Reactor:- MAX GOLD BROADCAST: GIVE ME A REAL BIG HAND (2020); Osías Yanov and Suavesitxs- Aoi? oh puppy calls and accidents (2020); Club Goddess: Susie Green, Simon Bayliss, Kim Coleman, Rory Pilgrim (2020); Binnie Sisters: The Muddy Clearing (2019 – 2020); Julie Béna: The Jester & Death (2019); Dangerous Bodies: Barbara Kapusta (2019); Bacchanal (2019); Something Soft (2019); In Pluto’s Anus, Giorgio Sadotti(2019); Le Betyl d’Ail, Nils-Alix Tabeling (2019); Comme de Marxist, Rainer Ganahl (2018); Graceful ride, Anna Hulacova (2018) 

Independently curated projects: The Immeasurable, Thameside Studios (2019); Mostyn OPEN 21, LLandudno (2019); Of the sea, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent(2017); Tide and Tide Flow Wide, Folkestone (2017); Basic structures of (2016) and Reassembling Past Futures (2014), at the Austrian Cultural Forum London; The Trouble with Painting Today (2016) and things we didn’t have before (2015) at Pump House Gallery; co-curated No one lives here, RCA (2013); co-curating the archival space AGM 10: Collectivus CPS, Manifesta 8, Spain (2010).

Conroy has been an access support worker since 2018, mentoring artists with Neurodiversities such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, and other invisible disabilities, enabling them to apply for funding to develop their creative practice. 

* Tell us more about your project and what you want it to achieve.

We want to know what you aim to do and why, including the ideas behind your project.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

Be clear about what it is that you are going to practically do. There is no point filling this section with the conceptual aspects of the project if there isn’t any information on the who-what-when-why-how. I suggest having a conceptual overview, but using the attachment section to get to the depths of the work. Remember that project grants are about doing projects for audiences, so there is a focus on how and for whom. What will be achieved through this project for yourself and for others?

Be succinct and to the point. Simple is beautiful. If it is too over-complicated, or you are trying to cover too much then it might not be understood and they are unlikely to fund the project if it seems confused.

* Tell us how this project will help to develop your work.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

This is about you and how you (and your collaborators) will develop through this opportunity.

Think about the short-term and long-term impact of this activity.

  1. Will you have new skills or build your CV?
  2. Is there a chance that this activity will make your practice more sustainable or lead to further income?
  3. Will it raise your profile?
  4. This is a chance to show how this will move you from point A to point B in your practice?
  5. What is the shift and how will these outcomes help you in the future (beyond this specific application period)?

*What will your project focus on?

This is pretty straightforward, you tick the box if it is relevant. It is rare that none of these boxes are ticked. In essence collaboration, partnerships, and producing new work, trying out new ways of doing things will support your application. 

  • working with new people
  • creating or commissioning new work
  • reaching new or different audiences
  • trying out new approaches
  • undertaking organisational development
  • undertaking professional development

Who else is involved?

  • Artist, creative, museum or library specialists name:
  • Their role in the project:
  • Their website
  • How will they contribute to the project? Give a brief description of their work:

You can fill in up to 10 people here. This section should be people who are feeding into the project. Whether they are collaborating with you or designing aspects of the project, or leading workshops, offering mentoring or informal contributions. Arts council like to see that artists and contributors are paid fairly, so I would anticipate that these people are represented in the expenditure section budget (or the In-Kind  on the income section if they are committing their time for free)

Each person will need at least a sentence about what they are doing. This is a good place to put further information that you can not fit into the ‘tell us more about the project’ section. 

They will also need a short bio. The whole section is 1500 characters per person, so choose the biography information that is most relevant to their contribution to the project.

There is another section later for project Partners - these are generally organisations that are supporting you but not necessarily contributing to the creative aspect of the project. Ie a gallery, or a place that is a media partner, or funder, etc. Curators can go in this section but the general organisation will go later.

* Weblink to images of your work, or a pdf.

This is the place where you can put lots of additional information about the project. Include images of previous work/similar activity or visualisations of what and who is involved. I think it is good to have documentation of work shown in public - ie with people in, so it relates to audiences. If you are collaborating then include information about them too. 

Don’t make a 35-page document with 250MB images in. A simple 5-page pdf should suffice and compress it - else they won’t let you add it to the system

Or a web link. But make it relevant to the specific project you are applying for.

* Who will engage with your project?

Think about the audiences or the people who will take part.

You can use up to 1000 characters to answer this.

Audiences, audiences, audiences; I cannot emphasise enough how important the next few questions are. If a tree falls in the woods and no one sees it, did it actually happen? The same applies to funded activities. If no one sees what you produce then don’t apply for a project grant because if no one sees it, it won’t get funded. Obviously recently there has been a focus on research and development activities in light of COVID restrictions, but these must have a clear public benefit in the future.

Think of the audiences and their demographic. Are you involving a specific community? Will the concepts of the project resonate with particular groups, communities, genders, ages, socioeconomic, religious background, etc? Is it going the extra mile to involve marginalised voices? 

Usually, it is easy to include Specialist audiences who regularly attend similar activities, who are reached through established channels but are there any aspects of the project that might reach further. 

  1. If there is a passerby audience, what might their demographic be based on local research? 
  2. If it is published, who are the readers going to be?
  3. If it is produced online, who is it for?

In all of these audiences you could assign an estimated audience figure (ie 50 -100). When they assess the application they will clearly be able to see if these estimates are realistic

* How will people engage with your project and what experience do you want them to have? Tell us about the ways audiences or people taking part will engage, and what they will get from your project.

You can use up to 1000 characters to answer this.

What is the experience going to be like? Think of describing what happened to someone who decided whether to come along. Practically how would you describe the experience of the work? If it is a workshop or participatory, what will the participant do whilst there and what will they take home with them. Will they be able to apply this experience to be more creative in the future. Will it allow people to reimagine their current lives? Will it be fun, or an intellectual experience, or a slow experience, etc.

  1. How will people participate?
  2. Do they have to sign up or will it be on street level and they happen upon it?
  3. Practically what will they gain after they have this cultural experience?

* Tell us how you will make sure your project reaches people.

We want to know how you will make sure that the people you plan to engage will be able to experience your project. You can tell us about any planned marketing activities if this is relevant.

You can use up to 1000 characters to answer this.

Marketing question. It is all fair and good saying specific communities or groups are going to come, but how are you going to prove that you are going to reach them. We all know it is naive to think that by simply putting on an exhibition that people will come.

  • How are you advertising and marketing what you do?
  • What platforms will assist you? 
  • If you are using social media, how and how many people will be reached? 
  • Do you have direct contact with specific communities, or are you partnering with an organisation that can guarantee full attendance through their community?
  • Are there influential people who will help to promote what you do? Listings? Reviews and press interest?  What is their reach?
  • Consider: Signage and interpretation, online vs word of mouth, will you work with a PR person, or can anyone support the overall profile and reach of the project. 
  • Do you have an estimate on how you want to reach a new audience and how many are you aiming for in audience growth?
  • Use statistics, previous audience figures, online reach, and evidence of your track record so that the assessor understands that reaching your audiences is possible and effectively planned. 



- everyone who gets paid or participates in a creative aspect - even if it is a small role they play - if they are getting paid, or this is contributing towards their cv, they are benefiting. 


- workshops and participatory elements - eg a public flashmob could be in the hundreds, whilst a      workshop could be less than 10.

Audience live

- if you have an exhibition how many people will come to the opening and an estimate on visitors over the period, estimate capacity for a live event

Audience Online

- this links to reach - how many people will view the documentation online? If you have a media partnership with a magazine what is their reach for successful Instagram posts, how many people receive the mailing list? If there are multiple collaborators, will they promote on their online networks? Add it all together. 

* Budget

You are probably tired by this point. Maybe have a break. I would always suggest having a minimum 10min break every hour to refresh your brain and caffeine levels. This process is intense.


Ideally, you need to have a minimum of 10% match funding for any project grant. So if you are applying for £5000, you need to raise £500 from other sources. This can be other funders, estimated income from ticket sales/sales of work, personal contributions, gallery exhibition fees. This has wavered in the last year, but it is always good to show some commitment to getting further support. 

IN-KIND support is important to recognise. There are a lot of people that offer free support for projects and it is important to qualify this in money terms. If someone is editing an article and it takes them 2 days which they would normally charge £150 for then you should put that in this section. It doesn’t affect your budget as a whole, but it does highlight the money that you have saved.


  1. Gallery hire (Free) (20 days at the regular hire of £50/day) = £500 support in kind.
  2. Invigilation voluntary support (5 days @ £10/hour) etc.

* Expenditure

Money money money. Always a tricky one, mostly because artists are terrible at paying themselves as they usually invest every penny back in their practice and do a lot of things for free. I admire the fortitude, but ACE is going to want to see you paying yourself and others fairly. Please ensure that you at least pay minimum wage. It is the law. I have a tendency to go for London Living wage as an absolute minimum (£10.55/hour) but you really should reference AN guidelines on ‘how to pay artists’ (LINK)

There is no right or wrong on how to pay yourself, but be realistic. We all want to get paid £350/hour

but your budget won’t go very far if you just pay yourself and for nothing else. Just ensure there is some consistency, if you are putting in a certain daily wage for administration time and a different price for delivery of workshops just stick with it. You will have to justify why you chose that figure. It is usually due to industry standards, or pre-agreed fees negotiated prior to the application writing, but be clear.

For example:

  1. Studio time/ Research and Development (20 days at £X/day)
  2. Administration and marketing (10days at London Living Wage £10.55/hour based on a 6.5 hour day)
  3. Workshop delivery x 3 (£250/workshop including 1/2 day preparation - total 4.5 days)
  4. Performance fees for two performers (£x /event over 6 night - total 12 days)
  5. Invigilation (10 days £x per day)

TOP TIP: I tend to mention the total number of days of employment at this point. You will have to tally these days later, so make it nice and clear for yourself.

  1. If you are buying assets, do some research and include the make (and maybe where it's from) in the description
  2. Get quotes.
  3. Always put a contingency for unexpected costs. I like 10%. 
  4. Ensure you have money for promotion and marketing. It matters.
  5. All in all, share the wealth, ACE wants to see you paying people fairly, more people more benefit. It isn’t just arts audiences but a wide arts community sharing the love

*Tell us how you have raised, or plan to raise, any income from other sources you have included in the income table.

This is to help us understand how realistic your budget is, and the partnership support that is in place. Income from other sources could include other grant applications, donations, or crowdfunding.

Don't include any income that won't be used specifically for this project.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

By now most artists have lost steam, they have done a lot of the difficult questions and it is hard to believe that there can be anymore to say. Stay strong. Keep going. Once you are submitted you can sit back and relax, but keep focussed and passionate about your proposal and all that it entails.

This is pretty straightforward, everything that is listed in your income needs a description. 

Who provided the £1000 confirmed financial support for your project. How did you get it?

If you included expected income such as ticket sales, is this based on all ticket sales, how many? Remember to ask yourself if it is realistic. 

‘Confirmed’ is if you have this money guaranteed. ‘Expected’ is if you are still in the process of applying, or is unconfirmed at this time

* Tell us about any support in kind.

This section only shows up once you list your support in kind in the income section.

As above, go through each entry and say something about how you worked it out. Base these figures on industry standards. If it relates to someone giving you their camera for free for a week, then go onto Fatlama and work out how much it would cost to hire a similar product. 

If it is time and service, estimate how much it would cost for you to pay for a Joe blog to provide that service.

The artworks are teeming with supportive and generous people and we should recognise this. 

If your photographer friend is documenting your show for £100 and he usually charges £250, register the discount in the In-Kind section

Ie Documentation discount (name) maybe include a percentage  = £150

* Tell us how you will manage the budget for this project, and about your previous experience of managing budgets.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

So you had your cv in the first couple of questions, but this is looking for cv related to you managing budgets and whether they can trust you to manage this funding reasonably. 

How can you evidence that it will be easy for you to manage and record a budget of this kind? If you are self-employed you will regularly submit your tax return and have systems in place to monitor your income and expenditure. Have you managed a funding application before, or worked in an organisation where you had a budget to work with, or developed a project with public outcomes. How much was it and how did you manage it. Did you use excel or accounting software? have you managed invoices and archived receipts?

  1. How will you ensure that you do not overspend?
  2. Do you have an accountant?

* Tell us how you have worked out the costs in your project budget, including the costs of any purchases.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

This is the point where you elaborate on the fees and daily rates you are using.  Why do they cost what they do?

If you are working out travel reimbursements (eg 45p/mile on travel) or materials costs per participant, make sure it is clearly worked out. 

How did you decide upon anything you purchase, did you use comparison sites? Is it the best value for money?

Why did you choose the amount of your contingency?

  • Partner name:
  • Main contact (if organisation):
  • Email address:
  • Role in the project:
  • Confirmed or expected

This is the section where you mention your partners. Any organisation or partnership that has a role to play in the project.

* Tell us about your, and your partners', recent experience in managing similar types of projects.

You can use up to 1500 characters to answer this.

Have you managed similar activity before, do you have a couple of relevant examples of planning and delivery of similar public activity? (What and when and where)

Give examples of your partners' experience, chances are they are partnering with you because they have experiences and networks that have contributed to the project.

* Planning to date.

Tell us about the planning and preparation you have already done.

Everything up to the point of this project (nothing that is represented in the budget) will not fund activity that has already taken place.

  1. Have you already confirmed with participating artists/collaborators? 
  2. Has there been any research or previous activity which has led to this?
  3. Have you had any correspondence that supports the application?

* Timeline

OK. We are on the last leg. Not long now. 

The inputting system for the timeline is extra tricky. They have designed a system that means you can only input in chronological order so if you make a mistake you have to delete all the entries up unto that point and start over. Every date has to be inputted in a slow and laborious fashion.

My advice is to have it all written out beforehand. When you input the timeline, every fifth entry adds an empty entry-with a full stop in the description section. That way you have a lot of spaces to add any missing information. Then you delete the entries you don’t use afterwards.

I don’t think you can be too detailed. Key things to remember.

  1. Make sure every day of employment is represented in the budget is in the timeline (if there are 43 days of studio time - include all of them)
  2. Ensure marketing and promotion are emphasised as much as the development and the activity - weekly social media etc
  3. Review points/midpoint reviews/reflection time
  4. Represent partners and key points in the project

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