Arts Programme


This programme is primarily aimed at increasing people’s experience, enjoyment and involvement in the arts, with a particular focus on young people.

We support organisations and groups through our Open Grants scheme, concentrating on work that is transformational at three levels: for the participants, for the funded organisations themselves and, more generally, for the sector in which they operate. We also give grants to talented individuals through our Special Initiatives: the Awards for Artists, JADE Fellowships and Breakthrough Fund.

This year has enabled the Arts programme to consolidate both the Breakthrough Fund and the extension of our Awards for Artists to composers. We also strengthened the analysis of our Open Grants in terms of public outcomes and impact, while continuing to research new possible Special Initiatives.

Grantee relationships

The biggest area of change in 2008/09 has been the type of relationship that we are developing, with the help of consultant Kate Tyndall, through the Breakthrough Fund. We are much closer to the cultural entrepreneurs at the heart of our first five grants than we would normally be through the Arts Open Grants scheme, often helping them develop their plans through advice or by acting as a sounding board. We have also changed the nature of the risk that we take by committing to these exciting ideas before the details of the projects – such as fully developed plans, timelines or budgets – have been worked out1.

As a result of the external evaluation we have carried out since the inception of the Breakthrough Fund and the work that we are doing with grantees, we have placed more emphasis during the second round of applications on assessing whether applicants have the capacity to realise their artistic visions. We very much look forward to developing similar relationships with the 2009 grantees.

In the Open Grants scheme, we introduced outcome targets as part of our formal agreements about 18 months ago and are now able to begin to measure the impact of this process. With two thirds of grantees exceeding or meeting all of their outcome targets, more work is needed to understand why one third did not, and how we can increase the rate of organisations meeting their targets.

Another noticeable shift is that we have funded more work including adults this year than in 2007/08 – often alongside young people. This reflected our objective of encouraging inter-generational initiatives. However, we still do not receive many multi-age applications for adults and older people and we therefore look forward to supporting more of this type of work in the future.

Over the last two years, our aim for the Open Grants schemes across the Foundation’s three programmes has been to encourage proposals from outside London and the South East. We were pleased to see that this is beginning to bear fruit, with a better balance between grants to organisations working in London/the South East and elsewhere in the UK. We remain committed to this objective and will continue to monitor this carefully.

We are delighted to be part of the Culture and Learning Consortium that has published ‘Get it: The Power of Cultural Learning’, a report based on the findings of an extensive public consultation with practitioners working across the cultural and education sectors initiated over a year ago. This report advocates for improvements in the way cultural organisations, schools, colleges and other learning settings work together. We hope that this agenda for advocacy and action will have a significant and durable impact over time.

We started last year, in collaboration with the Association of British Orchestras, a sector-wide discussion to see how classical music organisations, and particularly orchestras, might work more collaboratively as a sector with audiences and communities. While this attempt to generate debate and change seems to have had little impact yet, we hope that a research project aimed at spreading models of good practice to measure the impact of education and community work will help to generate more follow-up activity – if only because this work was commissioned through the ABO by a group of education managers in orchestras.

New avenues

This year, we worked with Maddy Morton and Jill Armstrong, from market research company Lucid, to carry out a series of one-to-one and round-table discussions across the country to investigate how we might support the museum and gallery sector, particularly around the notion of engagement and participation. This process has enabled us to start a useful debate with both museum directors and project participants, and to start talking to all the principal agencies working in the field. We are now gathering material on case studies and will continue to scope how we might become involved over the course of next year.

We also started researching last year how we might support artists who work as workshop leaders or animateurs in a variety of settings, from schools to prisons or community groups. Consultant Susanne Burns managed a series of 14 individual interviews and six regional focus groups (facilitated by Deb Barnard) involving 58 people.

Using the findings that emerged from this consultation process, we are testing the feasibility of an intervention in this field at two levels: at training stage, when artists study in colleges or universities, and when artists are already working participatively, through continuous professional development opportunities. We look forward to shaping this new possible Special Initiative in the months to come2.

Outcomes for arts organisations

The world’s economic disarray and its effects in the UK have obviously begun to have an impact on the arts organisations we are in contact with. At best, it appears that there has been a change in booking patterns (fewer season bookings, tickets purchased later than usual and fewer door sales seem to be the dominant trends). At worst, there are warning signs that fundraising income from private sources – whether from businesses, individuals or charitable organisations like PHF – is dropping.

While some organisations have already altered their programming strategies accordingly, it is likely that many more changes are still to come. After a number of years when the arts benefitted from healthy settlements from government and increasing levels of private support, it is difficult to see how expectations on these fronts can be high in the years to come.

Having ourselves changed the way we agree outcomes with the organisations we fund, we very much hope that the new outcome-focused funding agreements being introduced by Arts Council England to all their regularly funded organisations will provide helpful ammunition to art forms and sectors making cases for excellence, innovation and risk-taking. In this tough climate, this process can hopefully only add to the existing hard evidence of what the arts can achieve.

Special Initiatives

Awards for Artists

Support for individual artists

£424,410 in 2008/09

The Awards for Artists scheme exists to support individual artists to develop their creative ideas and continue to practice regardless of financial or other outside pressures. Eight Awards of £45,000 are given on an annual basis, five for visual artists and three for composers. They are made on the basis of talent, promise, achievements and need.

2008 marked the tenth anniversary of the Awards for Visual Arts. Over the course of the year, we gathered powerful stories showing what the scheme means for past recipients and helping us to build up an overview of its impact:

“The award became both a catalyst and an underpinning of my experimental practice. It invested freedom and belief into areas that do not expect reward, applause or market approval … A unique and intensely valuable gift, whose benefit will echo to the end of my days.”

– Brian Catling, 2001 recipient, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Awards for Visual Arts

To mark the occasion, we also re-launched the Awards’ presence on the Foundation’s website to show some of the recipients’ work through images, audio and video, as well as background information.

The 2008 Award recipients were announced at a reception at the Royal Institute of British Architects in November. Richard Wentworth, the renowned British sculptor, was keynote speaker and made the announcements. The 2008 Awards for Visual Arts recipients were Duncan Campbell, Marcus Coates, Simon Martin, Terry Smith and Alison Wilding, and the Composers were Emily Howard, Evan Parker and Janek Schaefer.

“I am absolutely delighted to receive a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers. To be given a grant with no hidden agenda equates to artistic freedom and for a composer there is no greater privilege. It is a life-changing event.”

– Emily Howard, 2008 recipient

Jane Attenborough Dance in Education (JADE) Fellowship

Career development for dancers

£61,958 in 2008/09

Set up in 2005 for five years, the JADE Fellowship is awarded to a professional dancer coming to the end of his/her career and wishing to transfer their skills to dance education and community work. The Fellowships commemorate PHF’s former arts manager, Jane Attenborough, who died in the 2004 Asian tsunami. The scheme is based on the belief that professional dancers have valuable qualities and skills to bring to dance in education.

In May 2008, Siobhan Davies Dance was awarded the fourth JADE Fellowship for dancer Tammy Arjona. The Fellowship is designed to give Tammy experience of delivering education and community dance work across a broad range of ages, groups and contexts – as well as developing her project management skills.

During 2008/09, we were delighted that the first JADE Fellow, Simon Cooper, started a new full-time post as Rehearsal Director for Verve at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. The second Fellowship, to Northern Ballet for Andy Barker, came to an end and Andy is currently developing his skills further through courses in a range of movement-based practices, with a view to teaching. The third Fellow, René Pieters, has continued to broaden his skills working at Tees Valley Dance and Northumbria University and embarked on this last year of his Fellowship.

Over the course of the year, consultant Susanne Burns undertook an independent evaluation of the Fellowships and her findings and recommendations informed the selection process that resulted in Tammy Arjona joining the scheme. We have committed to continue ongoing evaluation of the programme until at least the end of the fifth Fellowship in 2011. We will develop plans to share our learning over the course of 2009 so that the dance sector as a whole can benefit from the information we are gathering.

“T he single biggest thing the Breakthrough Fund gives us is the time to make it happen – to take the festival seriously as an occupation, not an elaborate side project. We can stop for a second, think, process, and put in place those things – structures, methods, dreams – that are needed in the long term. We can think not only about survival, but also about how to develop artistic ambitions that are challenging and progressive.”2009 Breakthrough Fund recipients Tom Chivers, Sam Hawkins and Marie McPartlin of London Word Festival

Breakthrough Fund

Support for cultural entrepreneurs in the arts

£1,197,635 in 2008/09

A successful arts economy requires not only great artists, but also talented and visionary people who can enable these artists to make great things happen. Paul Hamlyn Foundation launched the Breakthrough Fund, now in its second year, to support exceptional cultural entrepreneurs with a pressing and persuasive vision, drive, and a strong track record of making things happen.

Funders are rarely willing to commit at the stage where a vision exists but is not yet clear in terms of deliverable activities, resourcing and risk. Through the Breakthrough Fund, PHF commits funding earlier in the cycle, trusting that grantees, as they progress, will identify and realise their plans and the outcomes of the Fund’s support.

Since making our first five grants last year, we have been asked by recipients to give advice, to act as mentors or as external consultants, and to be a sounding board – at times remaining in close contact and having monthly updates and de-briefs.

As the Breakthrough Fund works through nominations only, respected individuals across art forms, practices and regions help us to spot cultural entrepreneurs at critical points in their career, for whom a grant would make a difference. In 2008/09, 14 nominators (all different from last year’s) led to PHF receiving 37 proposals, from which the following grants were made:

  • Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell/The Gate Theatre – £254,000
  • Tony Butler/Museum of East Anglian Life – £150,000
  • Tom Chivers, Sam Hawkins and Marie McPartlin/London Word Festival – £141,000
  • Helen Cole/Inbetween Time Productions – £278,000
  • Claire Doherty/Situations – £300,000

The ten grants that we have made so far over the two years of the Fund have covered elements of core costs and some artistic expenditure. Though centred on individuals, these grants were made to the organisations with which they work.

In the course of the year ahead, we will set up an evaluation framework to measure the impact of the Breakthrough Fund, which we aim to track over a timeframe that extends beyond the grants themselves. We will also embark on a third round of nominations and applications in the course of 2009.

Open Grants scheme

Grants Awarded in 2008/09

Sistema Scotland

Core support to grow children’s orchestras in Raploch, on the outskirts of Stirling

£234,000 over two years

Big Noise Raploch aims to transform lives and empower a community through music, creating new life opportunities for children and their families in a deprived area of Scotland.

Sistema Scotland has started breaking down the cycle of social deprivation which puts children at risk of becoming involved in crime, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour by developing children’s social skills, confidence, aspiration and drive; supporting them across all areas of development; and recognising individual achievements. Although only launched in the summer of 2008, Big Noise Raploch is the culmination of years of work to adapt the Venezuelan model developed so successfully over 30 years by Maestro José Antonio Abreu and exemplified by the internationally recognised Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

Our grant represents about 80 per cent of core costs for the period spanning the 2009/10 and 2010/11 academic years. It will enable Sistema Scotland to start its second year of activity on a more secure financial footing so that it can continue to grow its already considerable achievements.

Different approach: Big Noise Raploch is tipping western music education on its head in the way it approaches how children learn to play their instruments, introducing a completely new value system. Rather than individual teaching, practice and ambition, everything is communal. Children begin as part of an orchestra, with shared lessons and practice; the culture is of mutual support, with the aim to be the best one can be, rather than the best. The goal is not about music, but discipline, respect, achievement through work and teamwork, and always striving for excellence.

Sing London

Organisational development

£74,183 over three years

Working in partnership with a wide variety of arts and community organisations, the Sing London festival aims to provide new opportunities for collective singing, both professional and amateur. Those new to singing are particularly encouraged to take part.

Our grant, made in the summer of 2008, is underpinning the roll-out of the festival into a UK-wide programme of collective singing events called Sing the Nation. We are supporting Sing London’s core activity and enabling the development of new strands of work. Many elements of the programme are linked to the themes of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Sing London has developed strong relationships with key partners and started to develop a national presence.

Core support: We have a track record of core support grants that back an organisation’s vision and mission. In an increasingly adverse economic climate, we believe it is vital for us to continue to provide this type of funding.

Ongoing Grants

People United

Core support to underpin the salary of the founder and director

£30,000 over 18 months

People United uses the arts, sport and creative ideas to foster, celebrate and research kindness in all its forms. Our financial support, soon after the organisation was created, underpinned the development of a three-year strategy, the setting up of the business on a solid footing, and the creation of a website.

This was followed by a series of trial projects in schools in Kent and West Yorkshire, supported by, amongst others Arts Council England. The work undertaken in the pilot schools focused on stories celebrating good deeds and actions. Assessment by the University of Kent and Canterbury Christchurch University found that it demonstrated significant and consistent changes in pupils’ attitudes and how they relate to the wider community.

Strong methodology: People United acts as a practical laboratory to test and evaluate social programmes that are catalysts for kindness, using arts and creativity as a tool. The company is developing pragmatic and measurable approaches to realising an ideal.

Unicorn Theatre

Underpinning the creation of an ensemble of actors for young audiences

£295,000 over three years

Unicorn, based in a new building in Southwark, is one of the UK’s flagship theatres for children.

Through our grant, Unicorn has become one of the few theatres in the country – and the only children’s theatre – to have its own in-house ensemble. The six full-time actors have taken part in all the Unicorn productions and played a pivotal role in education and community work. It is through this participatory programme that the benefits of the ensemble have been felt most immediately, creating more direct links between the main stages and education work.

Having the same group of actors in the building over a longer period of time has also challenged the boundaries between management and creative teams.

Changing culture: Unicorn Theatre is developing a new operating model, partly to maximise the opportunities offered by a new building and partly in response to external and financial pressures. The ensemble is one of the main tools used in the organisational development process it has undertaken.

Completed Grant

North Down’s Borough Council

Piloting outreach work in local estates and extending partnerships with local schools as part of the Aspects Irish Literature Festival

£13,000 over four months

North Down’s Borough Council runs the Aspects Irish Literature Festival every September to celebrate Irish writing through the presentation of emerging and established writers.

Our grant was used to develop an education programme, Young Aspects, through the expansion of outreach work in schools and the launch of a pilot study with communities from two local estates. The Writers in Estates programme faced some difficulties because of low levels of participation from local residents. It was therefore agreed that our grant would be redeployed to focus solely on the development of partnerships in schools and new work with further education institutions.

This strand of work proved successful, exceeding its targets in terms of impact on participants. Because most of the children living on the targeted estates are going to the schools involved in Young Aspects, the Council still aims to reach families and friends in due time through these young participants.

Flexibility: As a responsive funder, we welcome dialogue with grantees who may need to change their plans to reflect what they have learnt from work having taken place, while remaining true to their original aims and objectives for the grant.


  • 1 Positive risk-taking: The Breakthrough Fund sees the Foundation adopting a new type of risk. Rather than requiring detailed plans at the application stage, we ask for a broad description of aims, and then allow activities and outcomes to be shaped by the processes of understanding, defining and planning work
  • 2 Sectoral and individual impact: A lot of the work we support through the Arts Open Grants scheme uses artists as deliverers and catalysts: by supporting artists in participatory settings, we hope to be able to have impact on the arts sector as a whole. See the JADE Fellowship summary in the Arts Special Initiatives