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Funding for creative learning projects

Artists and schools often work together to apply for money to pay for creative learning projects. Here is some advice for anyone taking a lead on such a project.

Is there a need for your project?

Funders like to invest in projects who can show them proof that there is a need for the project. It is good practice to consult the people who you plan to work with, or to carry out a small pilot project before applying for a bigger project. You need to check that you are not duplicating another project, so do find out what other organisations are doing and try to develop and complement that work. Funders prefer projects that have clear strategic benefit. This means researching into what current priorities the funding agency is working to, for example neighbourhood renewal, disability arts, health promotion, addressing rural issues etc.

Have you planned your project thoroughly?

You need to be able to show funders that you have a clear vision of

  • The activities you plan to deliver 

  • The timescales that activities will be delivered within

  • Who you will be working with, their roles and any expertise they bring to the project.

  • Who will benefit from the project?  Some funding schemes are only available for projects with wider community involvement. Are there any local groups or community organisations who might get involved in your project, or can you involve parents and families as participants or audience.

  • What resources you will need and how these needs will be met? You can usually include the use of school facilities as 'match funding' for your project, for example use of your venue, equipment, materials or transport facilities. You should also include any volunteer and professional time given to the project as 'in kind' support.

  • Budgets (including supply cover, artists fees, transport, materials, promotion and publicity costs) Keep your application for funding realistic. Most funding schemes are very competitive and though smaller bids are likely to be more successful it is important that you apply for enough money to deliver a project through to successful completion.

How will you evaluate your project?

You will need to explain how you will evaluate your project:

  • how did the project go? You can describe how you felt the project went yourself, or you can set aside a budget to pay an external evaluator

  • the actual impact? You need to set out what evidence you will collect, for example, number of participants, goals acheived by participants, feedback from participants

  • how will the work be celebrated / shared? You might want to stage a celebration event, or invite the local press to cover your story.

  • how will the project be developed or continued? Will there be a longer term legacy?

Can I get help with my application?

You can get help and advice from Local Authority Arts Officers and Arts Council England Officers. You can usually have a chat on the phone, or send a copy of your project  to them for feedback before you submit it.

Leave plenty of time to prepare and submit your application. Projects that have already started are usually ineligible. Most funders have a specific timescale from receipt of application to giving a decision (the minimum turn-around time is six weeks, but is usually more than this).

How do I choose a suitable funder?

Arts Council England publishes 'Funding Flash' which is a monthly update of funding opportunities for the arts, including some suitable for eductors. They also run the funding scheme 'Grants for the Arts'.

Other major funders who could fund projects in schools include:


Art and education officers: - Derbyshire  - Derby -Excellence in Schools

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