A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

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2 Sources of funding – public money

Even if it feels very unlikely that your current idea will be eligible for public funding, this section will give you a brief but useful insight into how this type of funding is allocated and distributed.

Funding is distributed by bodies including Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Local authorities also sometimes offer funding for local arts provision and a further potential source is the National Lottery.

This short video will give you an overview of how Arts Council England (ACE) uses its funds.

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As well as the National Portfolio funding, ACE distributes National Lottery money in the form of project and grant funding for individuals and independent companies, in addition to funding which strategically addresses a particular large-scale need or gap. For freelance start ups, project and grant funding will probably be most relevant.

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To find out more, the Further research section at the end of this week has a list of useful links about public funding, including information on how to apply for National Lottery project grants with Arts Council England.

It is important to note that Arts Council England funding has to support the public in some way. If you have a purely commercial idea, e.g. making your own jewellery and selling it, then you cannot get public subsidy to support this, as it has no public benefit.

In the UK, other public funding may be available from organisations more specific to your specialism. For example, the British Film Institute offers both development and production funds.

Lots of arts organisations organise ‘open calls’ (invitations to submit work) for commissioning opportunities, so it is worth identifying and following key organisations linked to your sector and keeping an eye on their open call and seed funding opportunities.

Another potential source of funding is to ask many members of the public for small amounts of money – also known as crowdfunding. You will look at this next.

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