Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations 2018 – 2022 in Numbers


Arts Council England (“ACE”) announced the National Portfolio Organisations (“NPO”) for the 2018-2022 funding round on 27 June. The move from a three year funding offer to a four year offer has been welcome news for the sector offering many NPO organisations extra financial security in what are generally challenging times.

This round saw the number of NPO organisations increase by 183 organisations with 831 organisations benefiting from 844 separate funding awards. This funding now incorporates the now obsolete Major Partner Museum (“MPM”) funding which used to be separately ring-fenced for museums only. Museums were invited to apply for NPO funding and such organisation now make up 66 NPO’s (and 72 individual agreements), this is a significant increase compared to the 21 organisation previously funded as MPM’s.


The NPO scheme places the successful 831 applicants into four different funding categories:

530 Band one organisations            £40,000 – £249,000 pa

190 Band two organisations           £250,000 – £1m pa

66 Band three organisations           £1m plus pa

58 Sector Support organisation       all grant ranges available


The average grant awarded in the 2018 – 2022 funding round has fallen to £483k from £509k in the 2015 – 2018 funding round and the very top organisations either achieving a standstill award or a modest reduction. The very top 4 NPO’s all received a 3% cut which represents some £2.5m.

ACE believe that this approach will allow them to focus on small, more diverse organisations. So much so that the new NPO portfolio includes 351 “diverse-led” organisations compared to 183 in the 2015 – 2018 portfolio. This is a move likely to push board diversity up the agenda in many arts organisations over the coming years!
ACE has also budgeted £212.5m per annum for 2018-22 for its open access funding stream Grants for Arts and Culture and Strategic Funds, which addresses gaps in the sector, such as diversity.

The regions have also fared well with spread across the country as follows:

Area Number of agreements Total support  

% Awarded

London 253 £647.9 million 39%
Midlands 129 £277.1 million 17%
North 225 £403.6 million 25%
South East 100 £160.7 million 10%
South West 103 £112.8 million 7%
National 34 £35.1 million 2%
  844 £1.6 billion 100%


At headline level, regional funding has increased from 53% to 60% and overall funding to London remaining at a standstill, with many of the large London organisation considered to be resilient enough to withstand and recover from such cuts. Specifically, there’s great news for the arts in Yorkshire where funding has increased by some 16% in the 2018-2022 funding round. With focus on specific geographical areas such as Bradford, benefiting from an increase in funding of £1.77m.

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