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  • 29 Nov 2023

Arts Access and Participation Fund to pause new applications and develop new criteria

We will pause new applications to the Arts Access and Participation Fund between 15 December 2023 (12 noon) and 1 April 2024. We’re taking this time to review the purpose and criteria of the Fund and the application process. Anyone interested in the Fund will not be able to apply during this period, and we will also not be taking new requests for enquiry calls in this period.

Why the pause now?

Over the past year, we have been working with a learning partner to review the purpose of the Fund, and we will use this time to improve how the Fund operates and its criteria. Our intention is to be clearer about what the Fund is trying to achieve, and which applications are likely to be funded. We also want to make the application process and expected timescales clearer. We will launch the new criteria and application process in April when we re-open to applications.

We are very aware that there is a lot of financial pressure at the moment as arts organisations contend with the impact of rising costs and recovery after Covid. Pausing to new applications will not impact on the total funding we distribute this financial year, which will remain at £6.5 million through this funding stream.

If you have any questions, get in touch with us at

You’ll also find answers to some frequently asked questions below.

  • I’ve submitted an application, will this affect my application timetable? 

    If you have already submitted an application then the team will assess it and make a decision according to our usual timelines. We currently try to let applicants know within four months if an application is successful, and we will do our best to maintain this for all applications we have already received. If your application is unsuccessful, you cannot apply for another 12 months from the date of declination. 

    If I submit an application before 15 December 2023, when will this be considered? 

    We will close the application portal on 15 December 2023 at 12 noon. We will try to process any applications we receive before this date within our normal timeframes, but please bear in mind that we have more in the system at this point in the year than we normally have. Pausing the Fund also ensures that we can review these applications with the appropriate care and avoid keeping applicants waiting longer than normal. 

    If your application is unsuccessful, you cannot apply for another 12 months. 

    I have submitted a stage 1 application, will I have to submit the stage 2 application by 15 December?

    15 December is the deadline for submitting stage 1 applications and we will respond to all applicants in January, either with a declination or with an invitation to second stage.

    I’ve already requested an enquiry call, what will happen to this request? 

    We will contact everyone who has already requested an enquiry call to see if they would still like to have an enquiry call in January or defer until we have published our new criteria and application guidance.

    I’ve started an application form, what happens if I do not submit my application by 15 December?

    Once we pause applications to the Fund on 15 December any in-progress application forms will be automatically deleted from the portal. If you have an application in the system and do not plan to submit it by 15 December, we strongly recommend that you  save a copy of your work for your personal records. You can find instructions on how to save a copy of your application hereIf you need a hand, please contact

    I want to apply to the Fund after 15 December, should I look at the current criteria? When will you share the new criteria?

    The new guidance we will publish in April will be an evolution and progression of our current guidance but not a change in direction. Our intention is for the new guidance to give applicants more clarity about the purpose of the Fund and the criteria. We plan to publish a series of blogs from December 2023 until March 2024, which outline the application guidance and why we’re making these changes.