Your definitive guide to Arts Council England’s NPOs

On the surface, the Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) announcement was a pretty standard affair.

Arts Council England’s NPO (2018-2022) announcement is a big thing in the theatre calendar.

Today it was announced that an extra £42.5m per year will be spent outside London, with 183 organisations added to the funding portfolio. In total, 831 organisations will subsidised for the 2018-2022 period. Roughly 60 per cent of funding is now based outside of London, up from 55.8 per cent in 2015-18, apparently.

ACE have done what was expected: three of London’s biggest arts venues have had their public funding cut to help boost culture in the regions. The National Theatre, Southbank Centre and Royal Opera House will lose £2m of funding per year between them. Things appear to be headed in the right direction; reducing London funding by 3.8% and giving it to regional work makes for good graphs, right? However, my own working shows this to be misleading.  Instead of comparing with 2012-2015, if you compare the 2018-2022 allocation to 2015-2018, there is a decrease of only 0.1%. We need a funding system that puts food on the table and supports big ideas.

Diversity, incidentally, is a grey area and the data is skewed: BME/Disability/LGBT are 175/831- which is 21% but if you include ‘Female led’ it looks much better with 51% diversity achieved. But, if diversity means minority groups then it shouldn’t be applied to men and women, surely? Those that invest in artists, and make the work should be as adequately supported as the institutions that commission it.

There are plenty of deserving newcomers too. Take, for example, Chris Goode and Company, The Yard Theatre, China Plate, Vamos and Avant Garde Dance Company. What the spreadsheets do not tell us either is how much organisations applied for and how much they received.  A few have Tweeted their disappointing news at being unsuccessful including Greenwich Dance, Theatre Deli, Sheffield and Plymouth Arts Centre.

We also know about those who have been welcomed back to the party, notably English National Opera, Red Ladder Theatre and East Asian Theatre company Yellow Earth. Hurrah! The range of new companies isn’t just down to the fact that museums and libraries are now included. It is terrific to see the less institutionalised organisations who are far more in touch with their local communities like Proteus Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company who use funding in ways that are of great benefit to artists and audiences continuing their work, so well done to them.

It’s Emma Rice that’s the real winner, though. Rice will launch a new touring company in 2018 called Wise Children and return to the south west where she worked with Kneehigh. Brilliant.

So, to summarise:

London –  There are 12 additional NPOs (5% increase), funding decreased by 0.01% and average fund value  down by 4.86%.

National – There are 22 additional NPOs (183% increase), funding growth by 358% and average fund value up by 61.6%.

Region -112 additional NPOs (25% increase), funding growth by 17% and average fund value down by 6%.

More on the NPO trend analysis HERE NPO TRENDS