Arts Council England keen to get animation applications

After our meeting with Arts Council England and BFI last year, one of the things ACE promised was to explore how they can support animation through their existing funds, namely Grants for the arts.

Last week we went along to a briefing for ‘word spreaders’, including us, bloggers, HE and some people from their Random Acts Network Centres.

ACE doesn’t fund all kinds of animation – they’re guidance is: ‘animation projects which are experimental in form or content, or technologically innovative’.

The briefing focused on animation in a visual arts context, but they acknowledged that animation exists outside visual arts practice. And they’ve previously told us that they value the creative contribution of the animation sector and continue to welcome and support proposals for funding from animators and organisations working with animation.

ACE gets very few animation applications. And lack of awareness that animation is eligible for this funding clearly has something to do with that. The animation applications that they do get have a higher success rate than other visual arts applications.

We explained that one reason they don’t get animation applications might be that AAUK members have been told bluntly by ACE staff that ‘ACE doesn’t fund animation’, and that experimental animation or anything shown in cinemas is ‘film sector activity’ and not appropriate to ACE’s remit. They assured us that everyone at ACE now knows that’s not the case.

There was quite a bit of discussion about support for early career animators. They pointed out that establishing a career is a challenge for all artists. We pointed out that it’s more of a challenge for animators because those other practices have sector support from organisations supported by ACE’s National Portfolio, but they don’t support any animation specialist organisations.

So, if you have an ‘animation project which is experimental in form or content, or technologically innovative’, get applying.

Grants for the arts is a rolling programme with no deadlines. You can apply at anytime. Decisions for up to £15,000 take six weeks. Over £15,000 take twelve. First time applicants are advised to go for up to £15,000 with their first application. The assessment considers: artistic quality, public engagement, finance and management.

Guidelines are here.

Our tips:

Don’t be put off by their online submission system. It’s not intuitive and it can be very frustrating. You have to register before you can make an application, and it takes five days for them to validate your profile.

You need a minimum of 10% cash. More is better. That can be private funding – including your own money!

Public engagement can be tricky for film – for an installation, for example, a gallery can guarantee exhibition, but with films, festivals only select work after it’s been made. Production or R&D only applications are eligible, but you will need to give a clear indication of WHO you want to eventually engage with your work and HOW you’ll do that. And that can include your distribution strategy, and examples of where your previous films have shown. But remember – ACE’s remit is to support the arts – and audiences – in England. So don’t just say you’re going to show internationally only.

Don’t waste their time – or yours – submitting something they’re not likely to be interested in eg with a more mainstream focus, conventional character narrative, children’s tv series, etc

It’s a very good idea – essential, even – to contact them for advice before submitting. The contact details are on the guidelines. And if they say they don’t fund animation, tell them they’re wrong! The London people we met said they’ll often meet people – but in other regions there might not be the same capacity to do that.

You may get rejected. But don’t let that put you off necessarily – they’ll give you a reason why you weren’t successful, and that may include advice on what to change in a re-submission.