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Arts Council England and Essex County Council partnership achieves success in supporting more arts projects across Essex

17 November 2016

A new partnership between Arts Council England and Essex County Council designed to increase arts opportunities in Essex has already seen strong success – with 30 Grants for the Arts applications funded in the first six months of 2016/17, compared with 34 for the whole of 2015/16.

In the first six months of the 2016/17 financial year there has been a 72 per cent increase in the success rate of Grants for the Arts applicants in Essex compared with the previous year.

In June, Essex County Council and Arts Council England announced a Memorandum of Collaboration at the first of their collaborative events: Maximising Cultural Partnerships, Ideas and Opportunities. The Memorandum outlined a joint ambition to increase participation in the arts across the county. 

The memorandum also included a pledge to work more closely together to increase awareness of the funding that is available from both partners.

To fulfil this ambition, Essex County Council and the Arts Council will be co-hosting a number of outreach events, providing an opportunity for anyone interested in funding for arts projects to learn more about the different types of funding available and what makes a high-quality application.

The first of these events will be held in at the Harlow Playhouse on 23 November. For more information or to book a place, please visit the registration page.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “We’re really pleased to have seen some early success for this partnership. The funding sessions will help to build on this, ensuring that artists and organisations are aware of the funding opportunities that are available to them. At the heart of this lies our collective ambition to increase arts participation across the county for the benefit of everyone and I look forward to seeing our partnership with Essex County Council make this a reality.”

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Heritage, Culture and the Arts, said: “I’m thrilled that we’re already seeing an increase in funding from the Arts Council into Essex. It’s a credit to our fantastic network across the county. Where I’m particularly keen to see increased involvement however is from those newcomers to funded projects, with great ideas and intentions, who want to give national grants schemes a go.

“That’s why we’re collaborating with Arts Council England: to engender a wider spread of funding geographically, to encourage the latent bidders from less engaged areas of the county – of which Harlow is one – and give them the tools and the confidence to submit ambitious and well thought through bids which will see our cultural communities continue to thrive.

“Johnno at the Warm and Toasty Club and Michael at the Harwich Festival are shining examples of Essex people who have used Essex County Council and Arts Council funding to develop great ideas into phenomenal assets for the community, events that many hundreds of people look forward to and cherish. I’d love to see more people following their example.”

Johnno Casson of the Warm and Toasty Club, who was recently awarded funding by the Arts Council for Coast to Coast: a project touring retirement establishments in the Tendring district with reminiscence, music, arts and much more said: “Essex County Council has been a key funder for us, they supported us at a key early stage and this not only provided the financial backing for us to do our work, it told us someone believed in us and felt our projects were sound investments in community arts engagement.

“Essex County Council's funding and belief in us also helps attract additional funders such as Arts Council England and has allowed us to grow and make a real difference to Essex residents - we are proud to say Essex County Council supports us.”

Michael Offord of the Harwich Festival 2016, which has had three projects funded by Essex County Council and Arts Council England, said: “Arts Council England and Essex County Council investment has helped the Harwich Festival reach further into the community, with 3000 children and young people painting panels for our Panel Project and 485 people submitting works to the 20cm x 20cm Exhibition.

“Investment in such projects has helped the Harwich Festival develop a year round presence, further supporting the local creative industry and encouraging community participation in the arts - all of which feeds into the success of the annual Festival.”