Arts Council says 'No' to funding

HVAF GOES back to the drawing board after the Arts Council turned down an application for funding through its Grants for the arts programme.

Disappointed volunteers who laboured for months on the intensive application will now regroup and look for alternative funding sources in order to meet the vision for HVAF.

Chairman Mike Willison reports,

We thought we had submitted a well argued and supported case for a three year grant to support a greater involvement with the community throughout Hertfordshire, to strengthen the Forum’s organization, improve the quality of training and development we could offer our members, and extend the web development. All these were things the Arts Council’s guidance notes said they were interested in supporting.

It was obviously very disappointing to be turned down. One of the major causes of the rejection was the fact that the Arts Council’s budget has been cut by 30% because of the 2012 Olympics. Only 41% of applications for 2007/8 were successful. With demand for grants now exceeding supply of funds, there was no incentive to maximize the number of successful applications.

Two of the specific reasons for rejection given were:

Quality development: “It was not clear enough about how your activity would show (or lead to) artistic development” and “There was no evidence of artists being selected for solo exhibitions,or being taken up by galleries”.

Our proposal gave details of plans to expand artistic workshops, with funded external leaders to supplement our own, as a means of improving artistic quality and development. If told at the draft stage, we could have added a large number of examples of solo exhibitions and gallery exhibitions to the proposal.

Public Engagement: “Your plans to attract participants showed weakness”.

Our plans were to increase public attendance not only at OS, but at the other planned events, from 11,900 to 16,000 pa. over three years. It appears that ACE had done a lot of work on audience ‘segmentation’ (for example - “do the public who visit your exhibitions visit art events once a year, several times, or very frequently?”) We were not made aware such an analysis was required, and I would hesitate to ask our artists to try to collect this detail from their visitors.

This is now ‘water under the bridge’.

HVAF still needs to raise additional funds for the additional tasks we have planned in the county, other than through the subscriptions. As indicated in 2008 and in February 2009, sponsorship funds will be difficult to raise in a recession. We have started to establish the contacts which may yield such funding later, as well as looking at other grant providers.

This leaves the following questions which the OG will be discussing, prior to taking action:

Do we make a new application to the Arts Council, knowing what we do about all their requirements? If we apply, what will be the basis of our application? What actions do we propose that will attract a grant, and be beneficial to HVAF and the Herts community?

At the same time we discuss the Arts Council position, we will discuss the timing of other proposed HVAF exhibitions. The New Member Recruitment sub-committee identified members’ need for more exhibitions. We see this as a means of providing more opportunities for our members in 2010, bring our works before a larger number of the public, and help with attracting new members.

Should any of you wish to comment on the above, make suggestions, or feel able to help with the task of fund raising, please don’t hesitate to contact me on chair@hvaf.org.uk or via the PO Box.

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