Arts Programme


The Arts programme’s aim is to expand access to and enjoyment of the arts. During 2012/13 we have continued to pursue this in a number of ways, but have been acutely aware of the risk to access posed by cuts to local authority arts budgets. An important focus for the Arts programme has been on work to support communities’ engagement with the arts, seeking ways to enable real empowerment to counter the greater risk of disenfranchisement currently faced.

Community agency

Our two action-research Special Initiatives – ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings and Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners – have spearheaded efforts at driving engagement. Through Our Museum, we are working to enable substantial organisational change within museums and galleries to make community ‘ownership’ permanent and embedded, rather than peripheral to institutions’ main work. ArtWorks is seeking to build better infrastructure for artists to learn how to work better in participatory environments at various stages in their careers.

This year both initiatives entered more active phases, with publications, seminars, events and large residential conferences. Under the guidance of their respective steering groups – and chaired by members of the Arts Programme Committee – these programmes are also starting to communicate early findings. Each has a thriving online community of interest 1, in which hundreds of professionals – including many not directly involved with the initiatives – are able to share ideas and learn from the work taking place. Both initiatives aim to change practice across the UK and we will start to disseminate our findings more actively in the months to come.

Our Open Grants scheme has also included a number of grants geared towards helping communities to engage with the arts. The El Sistema model, which has enjoyed such success in social as well as musical terms in Venezuela, has been employed in the UK for some time. We were an early funder of Sistema Scotland and the ‘Big Noise Raploch’ scheme and have renewed our support for a further two years. We have also funded Sistema-inspired interventions in Liverpool with three years of support for Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s ‘In Harmony’ project in West Everton 2.

We are underpinning targeted action-research for FILMCLUB to look at the impact of film on disadvantaged children, as well as supporting a collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and five other museums across the country to explore how major historical anniversaries (such as the centenary of the First World War) can be relevant to young people today. While children and young people remain a focus of our grants, we also very much want to support work with adults and older people – such as the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation’s theatre project for veterans, which our funding is underpinning.

A further element in our approach to support communities is to seek to reach them in all parts of the UK. From this year’s Open Grants scheme, about half of the grants were either UK-wide or across more than four regions, while funding in London accounted for only about 16 per cent of grants made. This reflects our long-term interest in funding outside the capital.


While the context for the arts is changing, so it is for education. Many in the arts have been alarmed by potential threats to arts provision in schools. The Cultural Learning Alliance, of which we are a founding member, has played an important role in articulating a collective voice, representing over 9,000 signatories. It has served as an important, independent, critical friend in the National Curriculum review and the debate on changing performance measures
for schools, consistently presenting evidence of how the arts and heritage have the power to transform people’s lives. Following three grants, we have committed to cover half of the core costs of running the Alliance for the next two years, in partnership with the Clore Duffield Foundation.

We also followed with great interest the emergence of the What Next? movement. It started in London with leaders of about 20 arts organisations meeting weekly, but has now gathered significant national momentum with other groups meeting in Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry, Cambridge, Cardiff, Newcastle and the South West. An event held in late April 2013 at the Palace Theatre in London gathered over 600 people from across the UK to discuss how arts organisations, acting together, can enhance the national conversation about the value of art and culture. We feel that the meeting was a turning point and will lead to more groups meeting regularly in many new locations. We look forward to finding ways to play a part in this unfolding story.

Our support for the wider arts sector this year included two initiatives starting to re-think how to fundraise. We have witnessed a steady development of crowd funding, while the government hopes to encourage more private giving, including through Arts Council England’s Catalyst scheme. While private giving simply cannot replace the public funding that is being withdrawn, we have supported DONATE, a funding scheme that enables giving to cultural institutions using mobile phones and tablets, and Redefining Values, a series of seminars and workshops in Newcastle and London to provide fresh thinking in sustainable fundraising strategies.

Supporting visionary individuals

Our support of outstanding individuals in the role of ‘cultural entrepreneur’ has continued through the Breakthrough Fund Special Initiative. While some of the initial 15 grants drew to a close in 2012/13, eight remain active. Following a thorough interim evaluation of the first iteration of the Breakthrough Fund, which highlighted the unique nature of our approach and its importance in the current UK funding landscape, trustees approved, in principle, a further £3m for another two cycles of grants. While work continues to develop through the remaining current grants, we will also be commencing new relationships – with the next cohort of grants to be announced in 2014.

The busy Cultural Olympiad during summer 2012 included over 500 events throughout the UK. We are proud to have supported Serious over two years to develop and run four participatory projects in Scotland, Poole, Norwich and Barnet. They culminated in performances as part of the ‘BT River of Music’ extravaganza on 21 and 22 July, when hundreds of professional and amateur performers from all over the world took over six main stages across London. We were particularly attracted to this work because the projects showed a commitment to working with young people and communities over an extended period of time, rather than just for the duration of the Games. This commitment also ran through the other project we supported – ‘Babel’, part of World Stages London in Caledonian Park, Islington in May.

“I can’t think of another funder working like this. [The Breakthrough Fund’s] responsive openness is extremely refreshing. Very unusually, it’s not ruled by three-year business plans, and manages not to impose limitations. It’s focused on excellence, relevance to the future, excitement, entrepreneurialism.”

– From evidence contributed to the Breakthrough Fund interim evaluation

The year ahead

Following closely in London’s wake are the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013 celebrations. We are supporting the Nerve Centre’s Academy of Music, a programme that forms a major part of the City of Culture Children’s Music Promise. We will continue in our work to seek to extend and safeguard access to the arts for individuals and communities, while moving forward our initiatives to help strengthen the sector. The arts ecology has proved remarkably resilient in the face of increasing pressure on funding. We will do our best in the coming year to keep it that way.

Special Initiatives

ArtWorks: Developing Practice in Participatory Settings

A workforce development programme for artists

£135,802 in 2012/13

The ArtWorks Special Initiative supports five pathfinder partnerships in Wales, Scotland and England to develop new approaches to the training and development needs of artists at all stages of their careers across a range of art forms, locations and settings.

During 2012/13, the programme progressed from research and consultation into delivery of pilot schemes based on this learning. The pilots take diverse approaches including online learning, CPD provision and postgraduate programmes, salon events, peer-to-peer learning and new training delivery methods for further and higher education institutions.

In April 2013, ArtWorks hosted a conference, ‘Changing the Conversation’, in partnership with the Higher Education Academy and Creative Cultural Skills. The event brought together over 120 artists, employers and training providers to share knowledge and practice and generate more partnership working to enhance provision in the field. We believe it was the first time that these three groups of participants were represented in equal numbers and engaged in this kind of discussion.

The distinctive characteristic of ArtWorks is collaborative and reflective learning through action-research. Much research has been published and is available on the ArtWorks website, A regular monthly e-newsletter reaches over 400 people with an interest in this area of work. The ArtWorks ‘Platform’ seminar series is also attracting wide audiences across the UK.

Beyond the pathfinder work, we have commissioned a significant piece of research that will engage with employers and commissioners of artists working in participatory settings, to be published in 2013/14. We have also commissioned a series of ‘working papers’ that crystallise the learning to date and will assist the wider sector in developing practice.

An interim evaluation by DHA Communications and the Institute of Cultural Practices, University of Manchester was received in December 2012, looking at the initiative to date and identifying opportunities and challenges. The project’s director, Dr Susanne Burns, continues to work closely with the pathfinder partnerships and the evaluation team, led by Tamsin Cox, to disseminate learning from the initiative.

Awards for Artists

Support for individual visual artists and composers

£471,173 in 2012/13

The Awards for Artists scheme supports individual artists to develop their creative ideas by providing funding with no strings attached over three years. The Awards are made on the basis of need, talent and achievement. In 2012, awards of £50,000, paid in three annual instalments, were made to eight recipients (the first year at this level, following a review in 2011/12).


Steve Beresford, Eliza Carthy, Edmund Finnis

Visual Artists:

Ed Atkins, Pavel Büchler, Andy Holden, Elizabeth Price, Lis Rhodes

The November 2012 Awards for Artists announcement reception was held at the Foundation for the first time, following our move to new offices in King’s Cross. The guest speaker was John Wilson, journalist and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, who spoke about young people in the creative industries.

Breakthrough Fund

Funding for visionary cultural entrepreneurs

£37,251 in 2012/13

The Breakthrough Fund aims to unlock significant developments and outcomes in the arts that would not otherwise be achieved. It responds to the compelling visions of outstanding people working in the role of ‘cultural entrepreneur’ in a wide variety of art forms and contexts. This Special Initiative offers transformational and timely support for these individuals and their organisations
to pursue these visions.

Three annual selection processes starting in 2008 led
to 15 grants totalling £3,879,765 – ranging from £83,000
to £360,000, with an average value of £255,000. By March 2013, seven of the grants were completed – the most recent being Nii Sackey/Bigga Fish; Stuart Bailie/Oh Yeah Music Centre; Tom Chivers, Sam Hawkins and Marie McPartlin/ London Word Festival; and Natalie Abrahami and Carrie Cracknell/The Gate Theatre. Some of the remaining eight grants continue through to 2015.

We will be evaluating the impact and outcomes of the most recently completed grants during 2013. This will add to the growing picture established by an interim evaluation completed by our advisor, Kate Tyndall, during 2012. The evaluation considered the strategic role and position of Breakthrough Fund support within the wider arts funding context and made an initial assessment of the emerging outcomes and impacts of the fund’s grants. This overall assessment will be maintained as the grants progress. It will also incorporate longitudinal reviews, two years after the completion of each grant.

Based on the findings of the interim evaluation, PHF trustees decided in March 2013 to allocate, in principle, £3m for two further cycles of the Breakthrough Fund (£1.5m for each).

Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners

Facilitating organisational change within museums and galleries

£206,806 in 2012/13

Our Museum supports development and organisational change within nine museums and galleries to embed active partnership with their communities, with the ambition of affecting the museum sector more widely. This was the initiative’s first full year of operation.

One of the year’s highlights was a session on Our Museum at the Museums Association’s annual conference in November 2012. The session was one of the best attended, with 120 participants.

The initiative’s training and development programme began in early 2013. This is a major investment in the future of the organisations participating in Our Museum. It mixes a variety of approaches – from action learning sets to senior critical friends working with directors and community partners – across a range of carefully targeted personnel responsible for change. The programme brings in tested approaches from outside the museum sector and is led by Manchester- based consultancy Dovetail.

We published ‘Is Revisiting Collections Working?’ by Caroline Reed in March 2013. The report evaluates Revisiting Collections, a tool to help museums, galleries and archives to open up their collections to scrutiny by community groups and external experts, and to include these public interpretations as part of their permanent collection records. The Revisiting Collections approach provides a way for museums, galleries and archives to extend and deepen true participation in all aspects of their work.

The project’s director, Dr Piotr Bienkowski, has continued to work closely with the evaluation team – Gerri Moriarty and Sally Medlyn – to support dissemination of emerging findings from the work.

Open Grants

The Arts Open Grants scheme supports work that increases people’s enjoyment, experience and involvement in the arts. Our grants aim to enable organisations to experiment with and develop new ways of engaging with audiences and participants. This might mean introducing more people to traditional cultural activities or ensuring that the widest range of people have a greater opportunity to shape their own experience of the arts and culture.

Within this theme, we support work for people of all ages, with an emphasis on inter-generational initiatives where young people are one of the groups involved.

The Arts Open Grants scheme supports work that increases people’s enjoyment, experience and involvement in the arts. Our grants aim to enable organisations to experiment with and develop new ways of engaging with audiences and participants. This might mean introducing more people to traditional cultural activities or ensuring that the widest range of people have a greater opportunity to shape their own experience of the arts and culture.

Within this theme, we support work for people of all ages, with an emphasis on inter-generational initiatives where young people are one of the groups involved.

Grants awarded in 2012/13

20 Stories High

£130,000 over four years

20 Stories High has a simple vision: “Everybody’s got a story to tell and their own way of telling it.”

The Liverpool-based theatre company aims to engage young people in its work. “We are passionate about making theatre accessible to young people, and engaging with them at a deeper level,” says Julia Samuels, its co-director. PHF’s grant is to help 20 Stories High to develop partnerships with other arts organisations and to share learning about engaging with excluded communities. The Arts Council has also recognised the company as a leader in this field.

The company recently partnered with the Bolton Octagon theatre. “Bolton Octagon has a really vibrant participation department,” says Julia. “They were interested in getting our help to reach a culturally diverse audience and bridge the gap between the young people who use the building as participants and audiences at professional theatre productions.”

20 Stories High spent a week-long residency at the Octagon with its show Whole, programming performances at different times throughout the week, including one performance at 9pm followed by a post-show open-mic session. “This encouraged young people to attend and changed the feeling of the building,” says Julia. “It had more of a club night vibe.”

The idea for Whole, which also toured nationally, was sparked off when the company’s youth theatre and young actors company met for a dinner and debate session. “About 50 per cent of our young actors company have moved to the UK from Africa, and many hold deep-rooted Christian beliefs,” says Julia. “The dinner and debate highlighted the challenge these young people face when presented with the more liberated sexual views of non- religious young people. We saw a story that needed to be told, a story about identity and sexual politics for young people in the UK today.”

The show was well received by audiences and recognised for the important story it told. Leroy Philbrook, relationship manager theatre for the North West region of Arts Council England, wrote: “I wish every 15 year old in England could see Whole. It tackles such an important issue that can destroy young lives.”
A young audience member in Bolton wrote: “I just want to say thank you for the brilliant show.”


£212,000 over two years

“I think FILMCLUB makes school more exciting and interesting,” says Tiarnan Smyth, a pupil at Belfast’s Haberton Special School. “It allows us to watch lots of different types of films. It helps make learning more interesting.”

“I love writing reviews and expressing my opinions easily,” adds another pupil, Gareth McWatters. “I feel like I am really being heard.”

Their teacher, Chris Murphy, says: “FILMCLUB gives our pupils a voice. It opens up a new and exciting resource bank that brings a new dimension to my lessons.”

The children in Chris’s school have a range of special needs including autism, Down’s syndrome and social and emotional difficulties.

Chris runs one of many after-school film clubs that have been set up across the UK with the help of the education charity FILMCLUB. It supports teachers and parents who want to set up after-school clubs, supplies recommended films for free, and provides educational material to stimulate debate and discussion.

“Communication is often the first barrier for a young person with autism,” he says.

“Through film I have managed to get them working with a greater level of independence and improved their literacy.”
Chris Murphy, teacher, Haberton Special School

“FILMCLUB has made marked improvements in children’s ability to discuss and share thoughts and ideas. Through film I have managed to get them working with a greater level of independence and improved their literacy.”

The grant awarded to FILMCLUB will be used to fund three research projects to assess how the power of film can help children facing specific challenges, including those with special needs and those who have recently arrived in the UK. The charity will also develop bespoke courses and new materials to help more teachers and parents to run after-school film clubs.

A recent evaluation suggests FILMCLUB has a positive impact on children with ADHD and those on the autistic spectrum. Research among teachers has also shown that 94 per cent say it is an effective way of engaging pupils who do not take part in other cultural activities, and 81 per cent say it helps to integrate isolated or disengaged children.

“Through this grant, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who would not independently access cultural activities, will be engaged in weekly programmes of cultural learning through film,” says Mark Higham, chief executive of FILMCLUB. “The programmes will be tailored closely to their needs, to increase their learning and engagement with school, the community and the wider world.”

Ongoing grants

Lincolnshire One Venues

£189,500 over three years

“I feel part of something big, working towards building the arts community across the region,” says student Linford Butler. “It’s exciting to think how we might make a difference.”

“This has helped me with my confidence in being happy to meet people and talk to them, which would not have happened before,” says another student, Meg McPartlin. “It has been an amazing experience so far and I can’t wait to continue the project.”

This enthusiasm has been generated by a consortium of ten arts venues across Lincolnshire working together to engage young people in planning, managing, performing and enjoying the arts. This includes organising a one-day music festival, managing theatre productions and curating art exhibitions. So far, over 21 events have been organised by 136 young people. They, in turn, have commissioned 105 young artists and reached over 750 young people as audiences.

Our grant supports the consortium, called Lincolnshire One Venues (LOV), to employ three project staff to work across the venues to recruit and engage young people in the management of projects. The consortium model is an innovative way of working, in the context of fragile funding in the arts sector and in a region where rural isolation is a challenge. Previously, venues have found little audience crossover. The importance of joining up the ten venues under a single project team is that it offers young people a choice, connects communities and enables an overview to maintain the direction of the project.

“The level of support from the project team and venues is high, but the impact they are having in terms of changing attitudes within venues and creating regular young audiences through events is far higher than we could have anticipated at this stage.”
Chloe Brown, project manager, Lincolnshire One Venues

“We have had great feedback from the young people,” says project manager, Chloe Brown. “It has increased their skills, helped with their confidence and their understanding of how to organise an event. They have also learned a lot from the venue staff.”

“The groups are still at an early stage and the level of support from the project team and venues is high, but the impact they are having in terms of changing attitudes within venues and creating regular young audiences through events is far higher than we could have anticipated at this stage.”

The ongoing aim of the grant is to deepen young people’s engagement in the arts, so that they can be involved as consumers, critics, aspiring artists and creative entrepreneurs. The targets are to reach 4,000 young people in groups and schools as audience members, to involve 150 young people in learning opportunities and to engage 500 young people in commissioning new projects.

LOV hopes to break new ground nationally by creating a model of working with young people across arts venues. It will spread this learning through two conferences for the wider arts sector.

National Theatre Wales
£220,000 over two years

Traditionally, theatre companies arrive in a town, perform and leave. Thanks to a PHF grant, National Theatre Wales (NTW) has opened its doors to anyone who wants to get involved in its work at any time. “Organise events, market our shows, learn something new, be part of our productions, change the way we think or pop in for a chat; you can decide what part you want to play in shaping your National Theatre Wales,” shouts the publicity.

Everywhere the theatre company goes, it tries to engage with the local community. The outreach programme, called TEAM, is an ever-growing network of people who want to collaborate with the theatre. “They are our leaders in their communities,” says Devinda De Silva, NTW’s head of collaboration. “They create, inspire, perform, teach, write, give feedback and make decisions with us on the future of NTW.”

Jan first became involved by helping behind the scenes with a show in Prestatyn, North Wales. She then wanted to set up a filmmaking group for young people in the area, so NTW gave her some training and contributed towards set up costs, found her a workspace and sent out publicity through its networks.

“TEAM has enabled so many possibilities for my group in North Wales,” says Jan. “In a small town where the group members are young, they are very often overlooked but, with persistence and the support of NTW’s mentoring and training, we’ve created Film TEAM – a group of young filmmakers who write, act, direct and learn from each other.”

Devinda says the programme has also had a big impact on NTW as an organisation. Every member of staff has TEAM responsibilities as part of their job description. “This has added an engagement or community aspect into everyone’s role, which has got everyone thinking differently and opened up the organisation,” she says.

A central part of the programme is developing leadership skills. TEAM members have received a range of training such as presentation skills, leadership and use of social media. The TEAM Panel feeds into the overall development of NTW, advising on issues such as recruitment, programming, marketing and training.

The programme is truly collaborative and reciprocal. A group of poets who originally got involved with NTW through TEAM came up with the idea for one of NTW’s shows, De Gabay, which focuses on the Somali community living in Cardiff.

A member of the Somali community, Ali Goolyad, 23, says: “The journey I’ve been on with TEAM has been massive. With their support I’ve now written and performed in a National Theatre Wales show. It’s not only changed me but had an impact on the whole community.”

Completed grant


£100,000 over two years

“Thanks to your trained informative and friendly staff we have learned and appreciated your exhibitions more,” wrote a recent visitor to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. “Great idea, I wish more museums had this approach.”

BALTIC has won a string of awards following its radical change of approach to enhance the visitor experience. As well as being named Best Arts Project at the National Lottery Awards and taking gold in the North East Tourism Awards 2012 large visitor attraction category, it is also one of ten finalists for the ArtFund Museum of the Year 2013 award.

It has achieved this by re-positioning its entire front of house team into its learning team and creating a mission statement that places learning at its centre. The process has enabled BALTIC to deepen the relationship between artistic content, institution and audience.

Our grant was used to develop a training and development programme designed specifically to meet the role of front of house staff, known as CREW. Staff were given communication skills training and became more involved in research, giving them the confidence to engage visitors in contemporary art.

Training in research methods, including observing visitor behaviour and delivering customer focus groups, provided CREW with key information about their audience. For example, 93 per cent of BALTIC visitors are ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to recommend the venue to friends, and 96 per cent felt BALTIC was a welcoming place.

Learning gathered by CREW is now channelled back into the organisation, enabling BALTIC to respond to audience needs on a very practical level.

The grant enabled BALTIC to share learning with other arts organisations. It reached at least 60 other organisations in the form of conversations, research meetings and staff exchanges. BALTIC shaped its own visitor-focused training modules, such as ‘In a Pickle’, which supports front of house staff to deal with difficult situations. This learning has been applied in venues across the UK.

“This programme has thrown up many new questions for BALTIC, forcing us to re-think how we embed learning in the visitor experience,” says development manager Rachael Watson. “The PHF grant gave us the time and space to reflect and find our own approaches to learning, which proved invaluable. Two years ago, BALTIC was in a period of transition, now these core principles are firmly embedded into our practice, giving us the knowledge, experience and platform to create a very exciting and empowering model for visitor engagement for the future.”



  • 1 and
  • 2 The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic is also a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Club Award, part of our 25th anniversary celebrations