Changes to the Grant for the Arts application form from Arts Council England: What you need to know

With the release of the new Arts Council England’s online portal for grant administration, wonderfully named Grantium (I would have loved to have been in the room when that was suggested), going online last month those of us who use the portal regularly have to now adapt to the new one. Fair do, the old one was slightly clunky and we’re promised this new system will reduce the amount of paperwork and expenditure ACE has to go through as part of their cost cutting and efficency management. What’s not to like?

Regardless of your opinion on the new portal there are some fundamental changes that you should be aware of before going to apply. As I’m going through the process of a resubmission (sad face) at the moment I figured it was worth highlighting the big changes. Despite being told there are no changes to the submission form I’m happy to report that there are changes and they do matter.

Profiles and Validating

You now have to set up a profile for your organisation/individual. This is fairly straightforward as it allows you to have a profile on the portal and apply to the various strands of grants offered by ACE. What you need to know is any profile now takes at least five working days before it is verified. If you supply the wrong information or if ACE query anything you will have two days to resubmit the right information. If you miss the two day deadline your profile will be treated as new and you will have to wait another five working days.

You’ve got to build an additional week on your funding timeline to ensure you get through this initial process. Of course once your profile is established all is good and you’ll go straight to the application process.

Governing Documents

One thing to note is the new requirement of Governance documents. If you’re an incorporated or non-corporated organisation you must show ACE that there is a governing document that shows how your organisation is run. This is important, especially for emerging companies just starting out. Gloria Lindh at Littlemighty has wonderfully put together this document for those needing to put together a constitution model – although this is best suited to those not thinking of going down the Charity route at a later date – or you can see some examples online here.

If you’re starting out it is best to put this document together as soon as possible to ensure a smooth profile setup.


Changes to the Arts Council England Grant Application

Now down to the submission form itself. I’ve only had time to go through the under £15,000 application as I figured this would be more useful to those just starting out. Here is what I’ve spotted that is different to the previous application process.


1. Word counts are gone & replaced with character counts. In theory this will mean you have more words in each section unless you use big words. This also means the ‘&’ symbol now counts as a character but might still save on overall character count.


2. Artist outlines are now broken down individually instead of listing one by one followed by 250 words. This means there is less space to talk about other aspects/artists in the previous 250 word section unless you allocate it within an individual artist line, but this will have a character count limit.


3. Specific participants has been updated to now include specific ages, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or gender (including trans). The latter two are new, and might show ACE wanting to expand their work to those specific factors. Equally this might just be linked to their new monitoring information (more below).


4. How you will reach your target audience and marketing activities has been given more space and priority. The new form allows for 3000 characters, which is roughly 480-600 words instead of 250 words on the old form. I can only imagine this is to give applicants the opportunity to clearly demonstrate they know how they will reach their audience and show they have their marketing activities in order. This does make me wonder what the word count will be for over £15,000 applications.


5. Income on budgets now are shown as a percentage of entire budget, I’m guessing this is to clearly show the breakdown of non-ACE money. It also clearly breaks down percentage of confirmed vs expected. Clearly ACE will be assessing or giving their assessors more clarity over the breakdown of the budget. It does make it easier to scan the budget but this might flag up any issues during the reporting stage of the process.


6. Support In Kind is now more detailed within the budget. It has to be represented in both income and expenditure. ACE want you to clearly demonstrate the value of the in-kind and how to contributes to your entire budget. Great for those with lots of in-kind support although it will now be more time consuming to enter in each in-kind budget line potentially twice.

7. Less than 10% of non-ACE now has to be explained why this ‘exceptional circumstance’ prevents you from raising the minimum 10%. This is a tick box with further information required.


8. Location and type of activity. It is now possible to select BOTH Touring and Non-touring. Great for those who are requesting a grant that covers both touring and non-touring activities.


9. Activity Plan is slightly more user friendly with the ability to edit items (as you do across the entire form). This means that you can go back to make amendments on dates if you missed one however it does not automatically list in date order. I guess it depends how OCD you are on your date order but ACE does still express the desire to have them in date order but the form will allow you proceed with them in the wrong order. A small victory for those of us who loathe this part of the form.


10. Monitoring figures are taken from your profile setup and includes gender and sexuality of those behind your organisation.


11. Declarations now include having to list if anyone in the delivery of the activity has: worked at ACE in the last three years, is an ACE council member or is related to a current ACE staff or council member. I guess this is for transparency.
Those are all the changes I found when going through the under £15,000 application form. If you know of any others please do leave a comment for others.