The Award for Civic Arts Organisations
The second edition of the Award for Civic Arts Organisations shines a spotlight on how arts organisations are rethinking their own relationships with the communities they serve as we emerge from a period of disruption and acceleration of trends in the art world and in society. We offer one award of £100,000 and two of £25,000.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch and King’s College, London, are pleased to announce the second edition of the Award for Civic Arts Organisations. The initiative seeks to shine a spotlight on how arts organisations are emerging from a period which has affected every individual and community, disrupted business models, and accelerated many existing trends in the art world as in society. Funds of £150,000 are available, one of the largest amounts for an award in the arts sector, with one prize of £100,000 and two of £25,000. The Foundation reserves the right to redistribute the funds in response to applications received. Supported by a distinguished panel, we will announce the award recipients in March 2022.
The Foundation has a long-standing history of support for the arts and, alongside King’s College London, is committed to promoting the ‘civic role’ of arts organisations. Our Rethinking Relationships report, published in 2018, shows that arts organisations can embrace their ‘civic role’ in many different ways. The Foundation is committed to helping create the conditions in which every arts organisation receiving regular public subsidy can acknowledge its civic role in ways that are meaningful to the context in which they operate and to the communities each serves.
The experience of the last two years, though immensely challenging for individuals and organisations, has affirmed the value and importance of arts organisations embracing their civic role. Factors for success include clarity of purpose (why an organisation exists and for whom) and the agility to respond to changing external demands in which relevance and organisational commitment to inclusivity are tested.
Some 260 organisations submitted applications for the first Award in 2020. Together, these constitute a rich tapestry of imaginative and humanitarian responses to heightened levels of need. As a snapshot, it paints a picture that is favourable and attractive – a cultural sector open to change and resilient when connected to the community – at odds with the less compelling narrative of a sector in stasis, doors shut and closed for business.
‘The award has supported us to ignite more creativity and opportunities with our community. As part of panel for the second edition of the Award for Civic Arts Organisations, I am glad to be able to offer real hope, support and recognition to arts organisations that have been listening, trusting and innovating with their communities during a period of extreme complexity. I am hoping we can all learn from their stories, ideas and transformations and that this will help shape and inform the way ahead for everyone.’
Mark Williams, CEO/Artistic Director of Heart n Soul, main recipient of the 2021 Award
In this second edition of the Award, we are particularly interested in how arts organisations are emerging from the recent constraint and disruption. We want to focus on how arts organisations are changing and how they are now embedding learning into their future plans as they interpret what it means to take their civic role seriously. We aim to reward the outstanding practice of some organisations and encourage many others to rethink their own relationships with the communities they serve. In highlighting a few organisations, whose practice our selection panel believes to be exceptional, the Award seeks to incentivise the wider sector to make the fulfilment of a civic role a common key priority. This initiative follows in the footsteps of the Museum Award of the Year, initially incubated by the Foundation for five years and managed by the Art Fund since 2007, which has impactfully raised the standards across the whole sector.
There are many competing pressures for support from trusts and foundations like ours. The Foundation prioritises helping create a future within which all arts organisations can embrace their civic role and serve their communities as best they can. Our vision is that arts organisations have high, long-term ambitions of themselves in which they play a part in sustaining a thriving, connected society, both in bad times and good. We believe that an arts and culture sector which is fulfilling its civic role is one that deserves on-going support, including public subsidy.
How to apply
The Award for Civic Arts Organisations welcomes submissions from any arts organisation that receives public funding in the United Kingdom. You can click on the button below to find all details regarding eligibility criteria, application process and important dates.
Applications are now closed.Application instructions Application platform
Mid January 2022 : Shortlisted organisations notified
1 or 2 February 2022: Online presentations to the panel
March 2022: Award Celebration
The Award recipients will be proposed by an independent panel of judges.
Baroness Bull (Deborah Bull), Vice President (Communities & National Engagement) and Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture, King’s College London
Sukhy Johal MBE, Director of the Centre for Culture & Creativity, University of Lincoln
Amanda Parker, Founder and Chief Executive, Inc Arts
Briana Pegado, Co-Director, We Are Here Scotland
Isabelle Schwarz, Head of Public Policy, European Cultural Foundation
Devinda de Silva, Head of Collaboration, National Theatre of Wales
Mark Williams MBE, CEO/Artistic Director, Heart n Soul (main recipient of 2021 Award)
Applications close at 1pm on 22 November. No late entries can be accepted.
Applicants will be asked to submit one short video (max. 4 minutes) to answer the four questions listed on the application form on Zealous. Please signal in your video which question you are answering. Alternatively, separate short written statements (max. 200 words) in answer to each of the questions is also acceptable. This information will be used to select the shortlisted organisations. Last year’s panel found that video submissions better portrayed the organisation’s message.
Longlisted organisations may be asked to share additional information before being shortlisted.
In January (w/c 31), 10 shortlisted organisations will be invited to meet the panel (on Zoom) and present expanded answers to the four questions (not more than 30 mins). Due to diary constraints of the panel, the date will be non-negotiable. More information on this stage will be shared with shortlisted organisations.
A celebration event will take place on 23 March 2022.
Full instructions are available here and on the application form on Zealous.
There is one award of £100,000 and two further awards of £25,000. The funding for all three awards 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 will allow the recipient to continue its important and impactful work with its communities, in line with their organisation’s mission and plans outlined in their presentation. Applicants can explain how the Award money would contribute to embedding and sharing learning for wider benefit in answer to the application questions.
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.
King’s College London is the Calouste Gulbenkian 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, particularly at this time of crisis. 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 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) are aligned in having made firm commitments to their respective civic strategies and have collaborated in the past on the topic of civic arts.
Ten 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.
The Award recipients will be proposed by an independent panel of judges. The panel is chaired by Baroness Bull (Deborah Bull), Vice President (Communities & National Engagement) and Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture, King’s College London.
The other panellists are: Sukhy Johal, Director of the Centre for Culture & Creativity, University of Lincoln, Chair, West Midlands Arts Council, Trustee, Arts Council; Amanda Parker, Founder and Chief Executive, Inc Arts; Briana Pegado, Co-Director, We Are Here Scotland; Isabelle Schwarz, Head of Public Policy, European Cultural Foundation; Devinda de Silva, Head of Collaboration, National Theatre of Wales; Mark Williams, CEO and Artistic Director, Heart n Soul (recipients of the 2021 Award).
You can read the biographies of the panel members here. The panel's final recommendations will be presented to the Board of the Foundation for ratification.
Unfortunately, due to the expected volume of applications we will be unable to give personalised feedback until applicants reach the shortlisted stage.
Arts organisations are institutions with 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. No preference is given for the type of art created: the focus is on how the arts organisation has been responding with its community.
This award is only open to arts organisations that receive public funding. Public funding is money received from tax-payer funded government entities such as national Arts Councils or local authorities. The award is also open to organisations which receive a mix of public funding as well as earned revenue, donations and private funding.
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 support other initiatives such as the Culture Reset programme.
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.
Applications are now closed