2016 application dates for Arts Connect’s £250,000 Partnership Investment fund announced

Arts Connect has announced the next application dates for its 2015/16 Partnership Investment Programme, with over £250,000 available for West Midlands projects that increase the quality and access of arts and cultural education for the region’s children and young people.

The first application dates for 2015/16 were in October of last year. The next dates for submission are 5th February 2016 for expressions of interest and 12 noon, Friday 26th February for submission of full applications. Interested parties should contact Pepita Hanna, Associate Director of Partnerships and Investments, to request guidance notes, and expression of interest form and to discuss the suitability of their activity for investment. Email pepita.hanna@wlv.ac.uk or call on 0121 446 3204.

Arts Connect works across the West Midlands and is one of 10 ‘Bridge’ organisations in England, funded by Arts Council England. Its aim is to connect children and young people with the work of arts and cultural organisations to ensure they can access and enjoy great cultural experiences.

Bridge organisations are not grant-giving bodies but have funds to be strategically invested to build sustainability. The Partnership Investment Programme was developed by Arts Connect to enable organisations to secure co-investment and new sources of income. In the application round 2015/16 there are two programmes:

  • Programme One which is specifically focused on proposals in Birmingham, Cannock, Dudley, Sandwell, Stoke, Tamworth, Telford, Walsall and Wolverhampton. These are areas identified by Arts Council England as having low levels of participation according to data from the Taking Part survey.
  • Programme Two which is an open call for proposals in the above geographical areas and also open to “exceptional” new investment that provides significant high quality and diverse provision for children and young people in pockets of high deprivation that fall outside these priority areas.

Arts Connect has invested over £410,000 in 23 regional arts and cultural organisations since 2012. Eight supported through the first round in 2012/2013 saw a return in investment of over 400% with a further 11 in round two 2013/2014 reporting a 110% return on investment.

In 2014/15 Partnership Investment funding was awarded to a number of West Midlands Arts organisations, including £30,000 to Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery to develop arts programmes for Worcestershire, Birmingham, Sandwell and Dudley. £35,000 was given to Media Active to develop opportunities for young people in rural Shropshire to enhance creative, technical and employability skills, whilst working on a variety of digital media commissions for non-arts partners.

Pepita Hanna, Associate Director of Partnerships and Investments at Arts Connect said: “I am very excited about the opportunity to improve children and young people’s access to quality arts and cultural experiences through our Partnership Investment programme.

“We are keen to support the growth and sustainability of arts and cultural provision by partnering with networks that include schools, arts and cultural organisations, and the creative industries, as well as other sectors such as health, housing and local communities.

“I am looking forward to working with partners to develop proposals that will make a difference to the lives of children in the West Midlands and build the capacity of the networks to grow and develop.”

To find out more about the Partnership Investment programme contact Pepita at Pepita.hanna@wlv.ac.uk

The closing date for expressions of interest for the next round of the 2015/16 Partnership Investment programme is 5th February 2016.