The Award for Civic Arts Organisations 2023
With the theme 'Co-Creating the Future', the third edition of the Award for Civic Arts Organisations will recognise organisations that are unlocking the creativity of their communities to navigate today’s challenges and help shape a better future. A total of £150,000 prize funding is available. Applications close at 1pm on 25 November.
The Award for Civic Arts Organisations celebrates organisations that are rethinking the relationships with the communities they serve and using the transformational power of art for individual and societal change. The Award is open to all arts organisations across the UK that currently receive or have received public funding in the last three years.
With the theme ‘Co-Creating the Future’, the third edition of the Award will recognise organisations that are unlocking the creativity of their communities to navigate today’s challenges and help shape a better future. The spotlight is on organisations that are helping communities thrive, even in the most challenging of contexts – whether by igniting joy, hope, compassion and energy, improving wellbeing, forging new connections, or developing solutions. Recipients will be outstanding examples of how arts organisations can work in and with communities to address their needs and concerns, deepen relationships, and use arts and creativity to enable positive change.
The Award offers a total of £150,000 prize funding, one of the largest amounts for an award in the arts sector. There is one prize of £100,000, and two of £25,000. The Foundation reserves the right to redistribute the funds in response to applications received.
‘After the long, exhausting work we did during Covid at The Art House, receiving the Award was a shot in the arm for the team, Trustees, studio holders and people we work with. It helped significantly raise our profile and enabled us to open up discussions with the country’s leading foundations and to develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy for the first time in The Art House’s history. The stability the Award provided combined with these new funding opportunities has deepened the work we were already doing and has opened up new opportunities for how we can further extend our civic impact.’
Sydney Thornbury, CEO/Artistic Director of The Art House, main recipient of the 2022 Award
How to apply
The Award welcomes applications from any arts organisation that currently receives or has received public funding in the last three years in the United Kingdom.
Click on the ‘Application Guidelines’ button below to read about the eligibility criteria, application process and key dates. Please make sure to read this guidance thoroughly before submitting your application.Application guidelines Application platform
The Award recipients will be proposed by an independent panel of judges.
Baroness Bull (Deborah Bull) CBE, Crossbench Peer, House of Lords
Darren Ferguson, CEO/Founder, Beyond Skin
Ica Headlam, Director/Founder, We Are Here Scotland
Philipp Dietachmair, Head of Programmes, European Cultural Foundation
Rachel Noël, Head of Programmes and Partnerships, Tate
Rhiannon White, Co-Artistic Director, Common Wealth Theatre
Saad Eddine Said, CEO/Artistic Director, New Art Exchange
Sydney Thornbury, CEO/Artistic Director, The Art House (main recipient of 2022 Award)
The Award was established by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) in partnership with King’s College London. It is a key initiative of the Foundation’s Civic Role of Arts Organisations programme, which recognises the vital role of arts to society and encourages arts organisations to create impact within communities in imaginative and inspiring ways. In highlighting outstanding practice, the Award seeks to incentivise the wider arts and cultural sector to embrace its civic role. The Foundation’s ambition is to build a movement of change-makers, with impact in their local communities, across the UK and internationally.
The first two editions of the Award recognised the exceptional work of arts organisations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 424 organisations of all sizes and art forms applied in the first two years. Together, they illustrated the potential of creativity and the extraordinary resilience of a sector faced with immense pressures. The recipients and shortlisted organisations were selected for championing the needs of their communities and demonstrating the transformational power of art, particularly during difficult times. The Award recognition has enabled them to scale their impact, and their stories inspired other organisations to strengthen their relationships with communities.
Applications close at 1pm on 25 November. No late entries can be accepted.
Applicants will be asked to answer the four questions listed on the application form on Zealous in the format of either one video (max. 4 minutes) or one written statement (max. 800 words). Please signal in your video/statement which question you are answering and distribute video length/word count equally (max. 1 minute or 200 written words for each question). This information will be used to select the shortlisted organisations.
In January 2023, 10 shortlisted organisations will be invited to meet the panel virtually and expand on their application. Each organisation can choose how to structure its presentation, who speaks, and how best to illustrate their ideas. Due to diary constraints of the panel, the date will be non-negotiable. More information on this stage will be shared with shortlisted organisations.
Full instructions are available on the application portal.
The Award is open to arts organisations are either currently receiving public funding or have received public funding in the last three years. Public funding is money received from taxpayer-funded government entities such as national Arts Councils or local authorities.
Arts organisations are institutions which have a primary purpose of working in the arts or culture of any form. These could be, for example, orchestras, galleries, museums, theatres, or organisations that work in a variety of art forms. The Award is not focused on the type of art created, but rather on how the organisation works with its community.
The Foundation is working to advance the civic role that is played by arts organisations in receipt of public funding. It believes that the sector-wide change that needs to happen to allow this movement to grow is best directed at arts organisations, who receive funding from the taxpayer and make decisions about how it is spent. The Foundation recognises the vital role that freelancers and artists play in the sector, which is why we have supported other initiatives such as the Culture Reset programme.
There is one prize of £100,000 and two further prizes of £25,000. The funding for the Award is provided by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch).
The Foundation reserves the right to redistribute the funds in response to applications received.
The Award funding should allow recipients to continue their important and impactful work with their communities, in line with their organisation’s mission and plans outlined in their presentation.
Case studies of the shortlisted organisations will be written by students from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King’s College London. These profiles will be promoted by the Foundation and King’s as exemplary responses to the pandemic and be featured on the Foundation’s website.
The Award recipients will be proposed by an independent panel of judges. The panel is chaired by Baroness Bull (Deborah Bull) CBE, Member of the House of Lords.
The panel members are Darren Ferguson, CEO/Founder, Beyond Skin; Ica Headlam, Director/Founder, We Are Here Scotland; Philipp Dietachmair, Head of Programmes, European Cultural Foundation; Rachel Noël, Head of Programmes and Partnerships, Tate; Rhiannon White, Co-Artistic Director, Common Wealth Theatre; Saad Eddine Said, CEO/Artistic Director, New Art Exchange; Sydney Thornbury, CEO/Artistic Director, The Art House (main recipient of the 2022 Award).
You can read the biographies of the panel members. The panel's final recommendations will be presented to the Board of the Foundation for ratification.
The recipients of the Award will be announced at an in-person celebration event that will take place in March 2023.
Shortlisted organisations will benefit from publicity of their work via the Foundation and the Award partners. Case studies of the 10 shortlisted organisations will be produced by postgraduate students from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King’s College London. These profiles will be promoted by the Foundation and King’s as exemplary organisations demonstrating a civic role.
Recipients will also benefit from a media training agency with our contracted PR agency 89up.
Unfortunately, due to the expected volume of applications we will be unable to give personalised feedback until applicants reach the shortlisted stage.
Our application platform Zealous has improved accessibility and is optimised for the use of screen readers. If you require access support to fill out your application or have any accessibility inquiries, please contact us.
We will directly contact the shortlisted organisations about accessibility requirements at the virtual interview stage and offer tailored access support accordingly.
Our in-person Award celebration in March will also be fully accessible for attendants.
The information you enter on Zealous as part of your application will be collected for due diligence purposes and to create anonymised statistics as part of our evaluation.
King’s College London is the Foundation’s academic partner to deliver the Award. Both organisations share a mutual desire to celebrate the civic role that arts organisations play in their communities. They wish to encourage and inspire other arts organisations to examine their own civic role and what it could look like. King’s and the Foundation are aligned in having made firm commitments to their respective civic strategies and have collaborated in the past on the topic of civic arts.
Students from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities will have the opportunity to participate in the project. This is a central aspect of the project, and brings younger voices into the process, whilst providing research depth in the form of case studies of the participating organisations, and professional development opportunities for the students.
Applications are now closed.