New approach for Third Party Cultural Grants in the Capital

New Strategic Partnerships are at the forefront of the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposed Third Party Grants.

The new grants aim to strengthen, sustain and diversify the cultural offering in the city and benefit Edinburgh-based artists and participants as well as local audiences and visitors to the city. 

The details of the new innovative programme of strategic partnerships, funding models and the creation of a Flexible Fund for new applicants will be considered by councillors at the meeting of the Culture and Communities Committee next week (Tuesday 18 June). 

The fresh approach was developed following consultation on the Culture Plan and feedback from Desire Lines* urging a more open access to funds as well as the need and expectation to keep evolving and developing the cultural offering in the capital, alongside ensuring a degree of stability to retain the city’s evident success. 

The report recommends banded funding allocations to a group of Strategic Partners including festivals, theatres and the literary organisations alongside a new Flexible Fund of £200k, which will be an opportunity open to organisations not currently funded by the council. The report also recommends new models of working with partners and funded organisations and supports organisations like Collective Gallery and the Queen’s Hall in a new way. 

For the first time, the programme includes two new Strategic Partnerships, one with theatre-related companies and the other with literary organisations each of which will be managed under one agreement. 

In practice this would mean that Capital Theatres, Lung Ha, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, Traverse and Edinburgh Performing Arts Development will work together to apply for funding. TRACS (Scottish Storytelling Centre/Festival), Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Poetry Library, UNESCO City of Literature deleted will also work together to bring forward joint proposals for the next three years. 

Cllr Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for City of Edinburgh Council said: “Our grants programme has always supported the city’s year-round cultural offering. The development of Strategic Partnerships is intended to strengthen our cultural infrastructure for a three year in principle term from 2020/21, which I strongly believe meets our aims of sustainability and ensures Edinburgh-based practitioners, participants and audiences benefit. 

“The task of creating a way to open up access to funds whilst sustaining our current cultural offering was not an easy one but I’m delighted that we have been able to create the Flexible Fund which will open the doors to companies and projects not currently funded by the council. I’m excited to see what it will fund. 

“There is no proposed further reduction in the overall fund for culture, but this is a renewed way of working that reflects our commitment to maintain as stable an environment as possible whilst also responding to the Culture Plan consultation feedback which reflected the need for more access to our limited resources. 

“While we recognise realigning our existing resources in new ways means change for some, it also allows opportunities for others. The aim is to nurture more new work and emerging artists and enable greater access to our funding programmes for previously unfunded groups in the city. I believe this innovative approach is to the benefit of the entire cultural sector here in Edinburgh.” 

Duncan Hendry, Chief Executive of Capital Theatres, said: “We are in discussions with the City Council and the cultural organisations with which we have been grouped, about working together more cooperatively, creatively and efficiently. Capital Theatres views this as a constructive proposal which has the potential to deliver exciting collaborations.” 

Donald Smith, Chief Executive, TRACS, said: “We welcome the strategic approach set out by the City of Edinburgh’s Cultural Grants proposals. We have a unique collaboration between literature, storytelling and the Traditional Arts which energises the historic Old Town and embraces other communities across the city. We look forward to strengthening our partnership and service in future years.’ 

The Third Party Cultural Grants Funding - Review Outcomes report will be considered by councillors on Tuesday 18 June 2019.

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