Breakthrough Fund

About the initiative

The Breakthrough Fund was set up in 2008 to respond to the drive, talent, vision and determination of exceptional individuals in the role of ‘cultural entrepreneur’ – a role not previously the focus of a funding initiative of this kind – and to offer backing for what they are trying to do.

The Breakthrough Fund aims to identify outstanding individuals in the role of ‘cultural entrepreneur’, who hold compelling visions within their context and are at a timely moment in what they are seeking to do. Through committed, responsive and flexible support for the visions they propose, we hope that significant developments can be achieved that would not otherwise come about, and to help achieve transformational impacts for these individuals and the organisations they run.

The first Breakthrough Fund grants were made in 2008, 2009 and 2010, amounting to 15 awards totalling £3,611,315. Following an Interim Evaluation in 2012, we decided to run further cycles of the initiative, and in 2014 six new grants were made totalling £1,530,000.  Another selection cycle will lead to further grants in 2018.

Whilst we have sought to learn from our relationships with grantees to date, and from our evaluation of the selection process as each year has progressed, the guiding principles of the initiative have remained consistent.

The 21 Breakthrough grants so far offer a growing picture that spans individuals working through their organisations across many art forms, located in wide-ranging areas of the country, and active in many different areas of the cultural economy. Whilst working within the principles of charitable purpose and public benefit required of us as a charitable foundation, we bring a deliberately wide understanding to the role of cultural entrepreneur, and this is reflected in the spread of grantees overall.