Mayor Urges Culture Sector To Bid Into £160Million Arts Council Funding Pot

Tees Valley Combined Authority | Published on: 26th March 2020

Mayor Ben Houchen has urged Tees Valley organisations and individuals in the Culture sector to apply for £160million of Arts Council England support unveiled as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Culture sector has been hard hit by the outbreak, with all theatres, galleries and cultural venues ordered to close to slow the spread of the virus. Current national projections suggest theatre ticket sales are down by 92% on last year and that more than half of freelance creatives have seen all of their existing contracts cancelled since the outbreak.

Now Arts Council England, the body focused on arts and culture, has set out a package of £160million to help the sector. £90million has been allocated to support the resilience of key leading bodies recognised as National Portfolio Organisations (NPO). Six such organisations currently operate in Tees Valley.

An extra £50million of emergency funding will be allocated to other organisations with a track record in publically funded culture, and a further £20million for individual artists and practitioners who can apply for grants of up to £2,500.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit the creative sector hard and I’m pleased to see Arts Council England step in and provide essential funding. This will make sure the great organisations that we have in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool can continue to put on excellent events and shows for communities across the region.

“I’d urge any eligible organisations to apply for funding from Arts Council England to get the support they need to help them through this difficult time.”

Annabel Turpin, Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership Theme Lead for Culture and Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Stockton’s ARC, said: “Government is rightly putting people’s health and wellbeing above all else at the moment, but we have some fantastic cultural institutions and individuals across Tees Valley that are now in trouble.

“I welcome this new funding from Arts Council England and everyone in the sector should check whether they can take advantage of the support, to make sure this continues to be a brilliant place to live and visit when this situation starts to return to normal.”

Eligible bodies which can apply for part of the £90million funding are Tees Valley NPOs – Theatre Hullabaloo, SIRF, ARC, Middlesbrough Town Hall, MIMA and Tees Valley Museums Group.

Those eligible to apply to the £50million funding Cultural Organisations must have a track record in publically funded culture. The fund is to support them to get back on their feet, or to continue making work in the future which contributes to Arts Council England’s new forward strategy ‘Let’s Create’. Applicants must demonstrate that they will do all they can to support freelance practitioners. NPOs and Music Education Hubs are not eligible to apply.

Individuals who can apply for grants of up to £2,500 from the £20million fund are creative practitioners whose main work is focused on music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, combined arts and museums practice.

All prospective non-NPO applicants must be registered on the Arts Council’s funding application portal, Grantium, by Friday 3 April.

For more information, and to apply, visit

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