Cultural expression is essential in a strong, healthy society. We recognise the power of culture to give opportunity and visibility to people who may otherwise be marginalised. We want to support the artistic and financial sustainability of the sector and make sure that the widest range of people can participate. We are prepared to support core costs, periods of transition and risk-taking.

Over the last five years, we have made £52 million of grants to the arts, £7.6million of that was in 2015. The Foundation supports the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, managed by the Museums Association which will run until 2016.


Funding priorities:

  • Organisations at a pivotal point - organisationally or artistically

We fund successful, stable organisations trying out new business models or new artistic programmes. We are interested in organisations that are undertaking a process of change that will move them towards financial sustainability and resilience. We are also interested in how the learning from this process might encourage the broader sector to adopt new models. We expect an organisation approaching us for funding under this priority (whether for restricted or unrestricted core funding) to be able to provide a clear exit from our grant, showing how these costs can be funded after our grant ends. Ideally, the organisations we fund will be working with other organisations to develop new innovative collaborations, partnerships and local and regional networks.

  • Development of emerging talent

We fund established arts organisations to nurture the next generation of artists. We expect open and accessible recruitment process and an awareness of potential barriers, for example for artists with a disability. These programmes will provide genuine support and contact and offer progression routes or good signposting opportunities after they have ended.  There should be a link between the emerging artists and the organisation’s main artistic programme. This funding will support professional artists’ schemes and is not intended to support artistic training programmes.

  • Art as an instrument for social change, community cohesion or participation

We fund programmes that use the arts to address social change. They should offer artistic excellence and social impact. We are looking for programmes that address difficult issues and/or increase the participation, involvement and engagement of harder to reach groups. We are particularly interested in projects that link arts and social change organisations and offer opportunities for further development.

As a result of our funding, we hope to see:

  • Organisations and artists testing out new practice without compromising their financial situation and/or artistic reputation.
  • A better long-term artistic future for the organisation or individual, with a wider funding/earned income base and an enhanced profile, skills and network.
  • A better experience for audiences and participants as a result of the organisation’s new model/practice.
  • Genuine, long term social change, with future pathways/sign-posting for participants.
  • Opportunities for engagement to continue and the breaking down of barriers through the participants’ involvement with the arts organisation.