Arts Council England’s NPO announcement includes significant increase in diverse-led organisations


Arts Council England today announced which organisations it would be regularly funding as National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) from 2018-22 including a 52% increase in the number of disability-led organisations and an increase in funding for organisations outside of London.

British Paraorchestra and Extraordinary Bodies

The British Paraorchestra and Diverse City both received NPO funding. Photo by Paul Blakemore

The number of NPOs for the next funding round has increased some 20% on the previous round to 831, with 183 new additions to the portfolio. Of those new additions 12 identified as disabled-led, 29 identified as BME led, 76 identified as female led and 10 identified as LGBT led. For the first time ever, funding outside of London represents more than 60% of the National Portfolio. Overall, there was an uplift of 8.4% in funding across the National Portfolio.

At the launch event which was held in Leicester and livestreamed online, Nicolas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England outlined the three key promises which he said this National Portfolio delivers on:

  •  Shifting focus to outside London; in 2018-22 there will be £42.5m more each year outside of London.
  • Investing in new places and new communities. Museums and libraries are being brought into portfolio for first time. Many areas of the country will have an NPO for the first time.
  • Reaching more diverse audiences through diverse-led organisations. This includes taking on many new small- and medium-sized organisations and increasing funding for some existing NPOs

Serota, said the NPO announcement was a “massive vote of confidence in the arts, and a continuing commitment to the Creative Case for Diversity”. He described the National Portfolio as “ground-breaking…which will disrupt, challenge and above all, change people’s lives”.

Leslie Thompson drawing

Drawing by Venture Arts’ Leslie Thompson

Disability Arts Online is pleased to announce that it is part of a new generation of disability-led organisations joining the portfolio including Access All Areas, Diverse City, Bamboozle, Together! 2012, Bradford Literature Festival, Yellow Earth, BOM, MeWe, International Curators Forum, Luton Carnival, and Shubbak festival. In total there are now 35 disability-led organisations in the National Portfolio, including 12 new additions.

Trish Wheatley, Director of Disability Arts Online said:

“Aside from today’s announcement being fantastic news for Disability Arts Online’s future, we are really pleased to see the significant increase in support for disabled artists and audiences across the portfolio. As part of a cohort of new diverse-led organisations we look forward to achieving an arts sector that appreciates the richness and diversity of disability arts and culture, ultimately achieving the aims of the Creative Case.”

Other new organisations which may be of interest to readers include Outside In, Corali Dance Company, Venture Arts, SICK! Productions, with a significant investment in music in the South West through Paraorchestra and Friends, Plymouth Music Zone and Open Up Music.

Diverse-led organisations have also been successful with applications for ‘uplifts’ in funding – there have been uplifts for Tricycle, the Bush Theatre, 20 Stories High, Talawa, Tiata Fahodzi, Eclipse, Dash, Attitude is Everything, Extant, Heart N Soul, Deafinitely Theatre, Mind the Gap, New Art Exchange, StageText and Vocal Eyes, with the last two being supported to extend their delivery across museums.

For further information about Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, visit here.

Please note: we are receiving a number of individual press releases on this announcement and will post quotes from them below in the comments section.