Arts and creativity making change Q&A

Company Three

Watch our Q&A webinar on Arts and creativity making change. We also answer more questions that we didn't get to during the webinar.

View the slides

View the transcript

Outline of the webinar and additional Q&A

If you'd like to go straight to certain sections of the webinar on YouTube, click on the timings below:

00:00:00 Welcome and practicalities

00:02:25 Introduction to A Fairer Future

00:09:08 Arts and creativity making change

00:20:50 Q&A

We've got more Q&A below for the questions we weren't able to answer during the webinar, alongside the questions that were given written answers to so aren't in the webinar recording above.

For more information on applying, do see our guidance of support. It includes key things we look for as a funder across all our work, and what we consider when making decisions. We also have some general FAQs.

Learn more about our updated strategy for A Fairer Future and Q&A webinars.

More Q&A

If you had to summarise the key elements of the kind of applications likely to be successful what would you say?

Across all our areas of focus, we will not support work unless:

  • Their organisation is leading the way itself, or as part of a collaborative movement or partnership.
  • Their work is driving change for the future by breaking new ground, or by using tried and tested models to push things forward.
  • Their work aims to make a lasting difference, reaching beyond those directly engaged to influence the policy, practice, or behaviour of others.

See our guidance on what we're looking for across all our work, and what we consider when making decisions.

The new guidance notes seem to de-prioritise systemic change (beyond the funded organisation) and national reach – is this correct? Could you talk a little more about the current expectations in these areas?

No, we are still very much interested in systemic change and the same overriding principles are in place for grants under any of our aims. See our question directly above.

What does led by the people they represent mean? 51% of board and senior management or another criteria?

We have adopted the DEI Data Standard and define an organisation as being ‘led by’ a particular category when 75% or more of the Board/Management Committee AND 50% of senior staff share a particular identity or experience, where staff exist. When submitting an Expression of Interest, applicants will also be asked to complete a diversity, equity and inclusion monitoring form. If you do not yet meet our definition of 'led by', there is a free text box where you can add more information - for instance, you could say that 51% of your Board and senior staff share a particular identity, or add something about your plans if you are working towards increasing representation.

If we don't qualify as user-led by your criteria, but we identify as a Black-led organisation as part of our identity - in terms of power and decision-making, and we feel this is important to why we are best placed, can we identify this in this section of our application?

Yes you can identify it and we would take this on board. Please also see the question above which shares how you can explain this in the diversity, equity and inclusion monitoring form.

What type of organisation/legal structure can apply please? Would you consider funding a project proposed by a limited company (i.e. a news / media company)?

Most organisations we give grants to are charities, but we do fund other types of organisations (including Community Interest Companies, and companies limited by guarantee) as long as the work they are doing with our grant funding is legally charitable. If your organisation is limited by shares/profit-making, it is unlikely we would fund you. You would need to make a very strong case as to why you need charitable funds. Also see our FAQ on types of organisations we support.

To what extent should our organisations to replicate the business practices of profit-making companies e.g. marketing, financial practice, human resources, in particular where do we fall down in your view?

We fund non-profit organisations of all sizes with a range of legal structures so how funded organisations address things like marketing and HR etc varies depending on how the organisation's operations etc are set up - the minimum governance requirements for us to fund an organisaton can be found in the FAQs on our website. You might also find the 'why we turn down applications' section on our website useful.

Do you support work by community and town councils? As a rural/deprived community, we are the main route for delivery and provider. Our aim, of course, is to support and establish third sector organisations. With that in mind, where would community and town councils stand?

We have had applications from councils and local authorities. It would depend on the aims for the work and why the council is best placed to deliver the work. It is also worth having a look at our priorities in our aim for Creative, Confident Communities - particularly our priority on Community-led art and creativity.

How will you be approaching core funding under this branch?

As before, we will consider applications for core or project costs (or a combination of both) depending on the resourcing needed to deliver the work and have the intended impact on the issues the work is seeking to address.

I'm interested in the suggestion that you would prefer to offer core funding to an organisation rather than programme funding for a defined piece of work that is about moving forward change - could you clarify a little further?

Core funding offers an organisation more stability and flexibility and it is preferred by most grantees. The wider work on the organisation would need to strongly meet our aims however. If this isn't the case, project funding may be more appropriate.

Do you have a financial preference? How much do you fund?

It depends on various factors, including your turnover (the request should be proportionate), your overall funding mix, your needs for the work etc. We can provide some more specific guidance if you do put in an application.

Are there cases where you might fund charities with a turnover below £100k?

Generally speaking we do uphold this. But, there are some cases where we can offer some flexibility here. See our FAQs for more on this including why we set the £100k turnover as one of our eligibility criteria for our open application process and how we support organisations who don't meet it.

In your guidelines you say that you won't fund work that is the responsibility of statutory authorities. Can you give an example of this please?

By 'responsibility of statutory authorities' we generally mean work that is the legal responsibility of local authorities to provide using public funds. For example, social services for children and older people - so things that are a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide.

Is there a limit or cool-off period after we have applied?

See our FAQs where we have answers on submitting more than one Expression of Interest, applying again after an unsuccessful application, and holding more than one grant.

When is the deadline to apply?

There are no deadlines. It is an open programme.

Can you chat to anyone prior to submission of an Expression of Interest to get advice on whether you are on the right track?

Would you offer telephone advice/a consultation before we put in an application?

We can offer general advice prior to applying if you email or phone our general number. But we can't give specific advice.

After you submit an Expression of Interest, and if it appears to match our aims, you will be offered a call or online meeting with a Funding Manager to discuss your application in more detail. If you are taken forward to the second stage, there will be further opportunities to talk or obtain feedback.

Can partnerships be across the UK - i.e in Scotland and Wales if we are based in England? Or even international?

Yes partnerships could be across the UK - we fund work in all nations of the UK. We don't fund international work but it wouldn't necessarily exclude you if you had international connections which benefited the work. We have more on partnerships and collaborations in our FAQs.

Can you partner with an organisation to reach the minimum turnover threshold if other things seem to be in place?

We have awarded conduit grants in the past where another organisation is the grant holder but this would be on a case by case basis. We have more on partnerships and collaborations in our FAQs.

Will funding allow charities to work with public sector organisations and the private sector?

We are keen to see new and unusual partnerships so this could be an option yes.

Is Arts & Creativity Making Change entirely about young people?

No, just the third long-term outcome is about young people. Our other two outcomes are on supporting a representative cultural workforce, and a new and diverse generation of cultural leaders are equipped to influence the world around them.

Is Esmée planning to help connect organisations seeking to achieve similar aims for collaborative projects for example a leadership development programme for disabled people in the arts and cultural workforce?

We are increasingly playing a convening and connecting role and may do this around particular interest areas if we see opportunities. At the moment we don't have specific plans but will develop this as we produce road maps for the Fairer Future programme.

I represent a MakerSpace in rural South West Wales. Arts is a key aspect of what we do/offer - however, the more appropriate term would be "maker" as we cover ceramics to laser cutting, woodwork to welding. Would the definition of Arts under the priority include the creative "maker" practice? What would be included in practical terms?

'Creative' under the funding priorities includes a broad range of creative practice, so yes, 'makers' could be included.

Does the ‘cultural workforce’ cover artistic practitioners as well as ‘behind the scenes’ roles?

Yes, it covers both.

We have three programmes that will help to develop cultural leaders. Should we only apply for one programme?

It is very unlikely we would fund three grants for separate programmes. A core application could be considered if your wider work meets the aims. Or, project funding for a specific programme.

Have you funded universities in the past, and would you be prepared to fund a School of Art for a particular project?

We have funded universities in the past. It would depend on why they are best placed to deliver the work. We wouldn't fund university overheads so it would have to be project based and we would examine the value for money closely.

The majority of our work with young people takes place within SEN school settings as we are working long-term in partnerships to develop an inclusive dance curriculum which can prepare and include young people in the arts sector, however this happens within school due to access barriers. Would work in schools be eligible if it is focused on innovating new inclusive ways of working?

If the work is taking place in SEN schools as that is the most appropriate setting for your organisation and the participants that would not exclude you from applying. We would primarily be looking at impact of the work not setting.

We are keen to deliver our project through reaching and working with young people in their schools so that they can develop their voices and creativity which influences their engagement and confidence within the wider community - is reaching young people in schools in this way appropriate for this fund?

If the work is taking place in schools as that is the most appropriate setting for your organisation and the participants that would not exclude you from applying. We would primarily be looking at impact of the work not setting.

Is project activity that takes place within the school day not eligible for funding by Esmée?

It very much depends on what the project is and what the need to have it take place in school time is. This is not a strict eligibility point but we would examine it as part of assessing the overall proposal.

If what we do benefits and is targeted towards both young people and wider audiences, would this still meet your criteria? We have young people focused activity that others can also benefit from.

It depends which priority you are applying under. If applying under our children and young people's rights priority, the work would need to be very much focused on young people as the main beneficiaries and leaders of the work. If there are some secondary wider benefits, that's fine.

Would reference to regional or national policies and priorities be relevant within the application? For example, The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, and local Wellbeing Plans, are highly relevant - but only in Wales.

Yes, that would probably add strength to an application if relevant.

With the diversifying the workforce development focus - for example training new workshop leaders - would you accept the practical activity happening in schools?

It very much depends on what the project is and what the need to have it take place in school time is. This is not a strict eligibility point but we would examine it as part of assessing the overall proposal.

If two of our programmes meet different priorities well should we pick one or could we put in a combined bid, even if they don't overlap.

You could put in a core application if your wider work meets the aims. If looking for project funding, it would be preferable if the application was for one coherent programme.

Our work cuts across both the Fairer Future and Creative, Confident Communities priorities. At the Expression of Interest stage do we have to state which we are applying to and is there any advice around how to decide which to go for?

We understand there may be some overlap and that's fine. But it would depend on if your work/project is rooted in place and benefits the whole community (Creative, Confident Communities), or if you are looking to change the wider sector / workforce (A Fairer Future). You would be asked at Expression of Interest stage to select the relevant aim and priority. We have more on this in our FAQs.

Are you able to apply for A Fairer Future and for Creative, Confident Communities? Or is it limited to one application within a cool-off period?

Applicants should pick the most appropriate strand. A Fairer Future has specific outcomes for the arts sector around the cultural workforce and young people. Creative Confident Communities is for place-based work and is about community-led change which benefits a specific place.

Wider reach is one of your essential criteria, we are a small organisation based in Carlisle - we are working in partnership with local, regional and national organisations and will sustain and develop this. However, our geography and location and access needs of our people can be a challenge in this regard. Obviously digital engagement is a route. How will you balance the wider reach aspect of your criteria against organisations' capacity to work across a wider area, particularly those in rural or far flung corners of the country?

If you have local reach and are looking to do work that benefits the whole community and is community-led, Creative, Confident Communities would be the most appropriate application route. If you are interested in A Fairer Future, we would be looking, not necessarily at your reach (geographically), but your impact and your ability to influence the sector as a whole. It is possible for small, locally based organisations to punch above their weight and have a significant impact on the sector and on specific issues.

Appreciate the steer that Creative, Communities or Natural World may be open to an arts-based approach. Will there be webinars on these areas of funding as well in the future?

We held Q&A webinar on Creative, Confident Communities and another on Our Natural World when we first launched our strategy, which you can still watch. Do also see our guidance for more information on both aims. But if you have additional questions, do get in touch. We may run more webinars but don't have any immediate plans to do so.

Will you consider core funding for organisations who meet the A Fairer Future aims, but this is not their total work aim? We are a non-issue specific organisation that uses creativity for social change across a range of issues.

If your wider work as an organisation meets our A Fairer Future aims and you are pushing for transformational change, we would consider a core application.

Learn more