Liverpool Philharmonic performing at the On the Waterfront festival

Vital funding for cultural sector

Liverpool City Council has welcomed Arts Council England’s (ACE) decision to create an emergency fund worth £160m which will support people and organisations in our valued cultural sector

Liverpool is a city renowned for its cultural offer which is worth around £3.3bn to the local economy and supports 38,000 jobs.

The city council is encouraging all its museums, galleries, arts organisations, theatres, music venues, artists and freelancers to seek support from the fund – whether it’s to reboot existing creative work, or alleviate financial pressures they are experiencing as a result of Covid-19.

The pressure on the sector can already be felt – every cultural organisation in the city has been forced to close its doors and events such as Africa Oyé, Light Night and River Festival have been cancelled or postponed.

Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This announcement by ACE is a real statement that this vital sector has not been forgotten.

“It goes without saying how valued culture and the arts are in Liverpool, and as a city council we will do as much as we can to spread the word that this support is available.

“These are testing times and we are already seeing the impact of Coronavirus take its toll on the industry. However, this financial support will give some hope, and I hope we can all continue to work together to ensure our creative sector survives and thrives in the months to come.”

So what is ACE offering and to who?

National Portfolio Organisations (NPO).

Liverpool is home to 21 NPOs including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Open Eye Gallery, FACT and Pagoda Arts. (Full list at the end)

ACE plans to:

  • Continue funding with relaxed conditions for NPOs for up to six months, as necessary. Where possible, ACE will also advance up to six months grant payments to assist with cash flow to relieve immediate financial pressure.
  • Set up new £90 million fund for NPOs which they will be able to apply to very soon: The main focus of this fund will be helping NPOs to quickly reboot their programmes of creative work, but recognition that some will need to be used to support organisation’s ability to operate.   NPOs who benefit will be expected show how they will support the freelance creative practitioners on whom they rely.

All NPOs will be contacted with a timeline as soon as possible. There should be a further update before Easter. Extend current ACE funding for NPOs to 31 March 2023.  

Department for Education (DfE) /ACE funded organisations

In Liverpool , this will apply to progammes such as Liverpool’s In Harmony project and its Music Education Hub.

All organisations and programmes funded by the DfE and managed by ACE will continue to receive funding – without funding conditions for at least three months with immediate effect (from 24 March 2020).  ACE are also able to advance grant payments to assist with cash flow, should this be required. 

  Funding for non-NPOs

 £50 million is available to organisations in the cultural sector, who are not NPOs. This fund will be aimed at organisations with a ‘track record in funded culture’ – so, for example, organisations that regularly receive Grants for the Arts/Projects Grants funding.

Organisations can apply for a maximum of £35,000.

The purpose is to support organisations to get back on their feet, or to continue making work in the future which contributes to ACE’s new strategy. So it will be for business resilience, but also for cultural organisations who want to do some public facing activity during this crisis through, for example, digitally sharing creative content.

Detailed guidance will be published on 30 March.

Individual artists

£20 million will be made available to artists and individuals working in the cultural sector. For example, this could include choreographers, writers, translators, producers, editors, freelance educators in the disciplines and art-forms ACE support, composers, directors, designers, artists, craft makers and curators.

Individuals will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record in publicly funded culture. 

 ACE will publish guidance for applicants including the detailed timetable for this fund on 30 March. Potential applicants will need to register on application portal Grantium by Friday 3 April.

Please visit the ACE website for full details.

List of Liverpool NPOs:

20 Stories High

Africa Oye Limited

Collective Encounters



Great Georges Community Cultural Project Ltd (BLACK-E)

Homotopia Limited

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


The Bluecoat

The Reader

Unity Theatre

Wired Aerial Theatre Ltd

Writing on the Wall

Liverpool Waterfront