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HomeNewsArts Council England announce £38,363,716 of funding for Merseyside

Arts Council England announce £38,363,716 of funding for Merseyside

Arts Council England announce £38,363,716 of funding for Merseyside

  • In Merseyside Arts Council funding is increasing by 14% per year and will see a total investment of £38,363,716 over four years from April 2018-22 in Arts Council national portfolio organisations
  • This investment will go to 24 organisations including Collective Encounters, DaDaFest, Liverpool Biennial, Open Eye Gallery, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Unity Theatre
  • Six organisations join Art Council England’s national portfolio, which forms the backbone of the country’s arts and cultural infrastructure. They are Heart of Glass in St Helens, Culture Liverpool, the Royal Court Theatre, SoundCity, St Helens Council Library Service and The Reader
  • Investment in 20 Stories High, Homotopia and Open Eye Gallery is increasing.


Merseyside is an energetic city region with culture at its heart. For a number of years one of our priorities in the North has been to develop world class clusters of cultural organisations and activity around some of our major urban centres, recognising that critical mass helps to foster innovation, collaboration and talent retention as well as to support audience development.

A broad range of arts and cultural organisations in Merseyside will receive our support, from nationally and internationally significant organisations such as Liverpool Biennial and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic to smaller, more diverse organisations like Collective Encounters and Pagoda Arts.

Liverpool has particular strengths in a number of artforms, including visual arts and theatre, which is reflected in our new portfolio. We will be supporting Open Eye Gallery with additional funding so that it can deliver the LOOK International Photography Festival which we have previously supported through our Grants for the Arts programme. We will maintain our investment to Liverpool Everyman and to Unity Theatre, which particularly focuses on support to emerging and smaller companies.

We want more people to be able to benefit from our investment and for the cultural activities that we support to better reflect the diversity of contemporary society in the North.

Heart of Glass in St Helens, and the Royal Court and The Reader in Liverpool, will all join our national portfolio. Our investment in Heart of Glass will allow it to build on its successful Creative People and Places project in the town.

National portfolio funding will support the Royal Court to present work to a broad range of audiences in Liverpool and the surrounding area. We had previously supported the recent refurbishment of the theatre with an award of £2 million from our capital programme.

The Reader, seen as nationally significant in reader development work, has pioneered the use of Shared Reading to improve well-being, reduce isolation and strengthen communities.

Our increased funding to Homotopia will enable it to expand its programmes to different communities including work with Age Concern day clubs.

We want the North to be a place where it is possible to train, live and make a career in arts and culture without going to the capital. Our investment over the next four years will further help to nurture creativity, skills and talent – from early years through to emerging and established artists.

20 Stories High works with young and diverse theatre makers and our additional investment will help it to establish a development programme for young artists.

We have supported Sound City with Grants for the Arts funding since its inception. It has grown to be a highly important showcasing organisation with a particular strength in developing talent in popular music which is why we will now be investing in it as part of our national portfolio.

We want to support a wider range of cultural practice and activities, by investing in organisations working in new forms of cultural activity and in new settings, or at a larger scale, and with appeal to a broader range of audiences and participants.

Culture Liverpool has built on the legacy of Capital of Culture 2008 to play a leading role in large scale outdoor and public art commissions. We recently invested £750,000 of National Lottery funding through our Ambition for Excellence programme for the Sgt. Pepper at 50: Heading for Home celebrations and prior to that we invested in the Liverpool Giants as they’re fondly known. Our future investment in them as part of our national portfolio will support the further development of this large scale outdoor work.

We know that festivals and outdoor work has a huge appeal to broad and diverse audiences. Liverpool has nationally unique festivals in DaDaFest, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and Liverpool Biennial, all of which are part of our national portfolio.

In a period when libraries enter our portfolio for the first time, we will be supporting St Helens Libraries. Their Cultural Hubs programme was named the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded arts programme in 2016 and our investment will enable it to develop this work further.

Other investment

Our national portfolio is just one strand of our total investment in arts and culture. Other strands include our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts scheme and strategic funds, used to support targeted programmes of work that deliver the ambitions set out in Great art and culture for everyone, our 10-year strategic framework for arts and culture.

  • Our Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme supports individuals, arts organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. Since 2015 we have awarded £3,363,908 to projects in Merseyside.
  • We are supporting music education for all children and young people in Merseyside through grants totalling £7,327,971 in 2015-18 to the Music Education Hubs in Liverpool, St Helens, Knowsley and Sefton, and Wirral, Cheshire West and Chester.
  • The Arts Council is the national development agency for libraries and in 2016 we invested £127,180 in Merseyside through our Wi-Fi in Libraries Fund which has enabled libraries across Liverpool and Wirral to install or upgrade to faster free WiFi for their visitors. Our Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund awarded £133,500 in Merseyside for projects supporting activity in England’s public libraries which benefits disadvantaged people and places.

Jane Beardsworth, the Arts Council’s North Director said:

“We are delighted to be able to support such a range of excellent arts and cultural activities across Merseyside. The city region continues to place great value on the benefits culture brings to communities and to the economy – and that underpins the strength of our partnerships locally. This investment demonstrates that Merseyside’s cultural sector continues to be ambitious, innovative and deliver great work for audiences 10 years on from Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.”

The full list of organisations in Merseyside which will be part of our national portfolio in 2018-22 is as follows:

  • 20 Stories High
  • Africa Oye Limited
  • Collective Encounters
  • DaDaFest
  • FACT
  • Great Georges Community Cultural Project Ltd (The Black-E)
  • Heart of Glass
  • Homotopia Limited
  • Liverpool & Merseyside Theatres Trust Ltd (Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse)
  • Liverpool Arab Arts Festival
  • Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art Ltd
  • Liverpool City Council Culture Liverpool
  • Milap Festival Trust
  • Open Eye Gallery
  • Pagoda Arts
  • Royal Court Liverpool Trust
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
  • SoundCity
  • St Helens Council Library Service
  • The Bluecoat
  • The Reader
  • Unity Theatre
  • Wired Aerial Theatre Ltd
  • Writing on the Wall

A full list of all the national portfolio organisations which will be funded in 2018-22 can be found on our website here.