Grants for the Arts and writers

03 Jul 2014 / Writing Advice

Are you on the cusp of a significant artistic achievement? Are you thinking about the future of storytelling? Are you experimenting with new forms of writing that make use of digital technology? Gemma Seltzer from Arts Council England talks through the process of applying for funding through Grants for the arts, which can help poets, novelists, short story writers, translators, producers, and everyone in between realise their ideas.


Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. “Achieving great art for everyone” is our 10-year strategic plan, which contains priorities around supporting artistic talent at all stages of an individual’s career.

As a Relationship Manager in the literature team, I have responsibility for supporting the development of the sector in London, working with National Portfolio Organisationsincluding publishers, magazines and writing agencies. I also advise individual writers at all stages of their careers to develop funding proposals for Grants for the arts.

Grants for the arts are for activities carried out over a set period and which engage people in England in arts activities, and help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work.

Writers can apply for a range of literary projects, including research and development, mentoring, time to write, opportunities to collaborate and explorations into the use of digital technology for writing projects. We focus primarily on original fiction and poetry, as these best meet our funding criteria.

Published writers are in the best position to apply for funding, as they can demonstrate their track record in writing and show the literary quality of their work objectively, with references from agents, publishers, literature organisations readers or other writers that are familiar with your work. The Arts Council supports organisations like Spread to Word to offer a range of services for unpublished authors.

Is now the right time? It is important that you demonstrate how the activity will lead to significant artistic or professional development. To make a strong case for investing in an individual writer, we would need you to show that an investment is likely to support you at a crucial point in your career.

Public engagement is an important consideration, even for time to write grants. When you put together your application, think about how your work will reach an audience during the project and also beyond the life of the grant.This might be through publication, live events or an online showcase.

Grants for the arts offers project, rather than ongoing funding. We want to give funding to a diverse range of writers with exciting ideas, framed within a well-argued project proposal, with a distinct time-frame and outcome.


Top tips:

The Grants for the arts web pages includes guidance on how to apply, along with extra advice on literature projects. It’s worth getting acquainted with the Arts Council’s priorities, too.

Get in touch with the Arts Council enquiries team who will be able to answer any questions you have. Applying for funding is incredibly competitive, so be prepared to spend time developing a strong application.  0845 300 6200 or

Grants for the arts aims to be light touch, which means that you are assessed on what you’ve submitted in your application alone. Make sure you have provided enough information on your work, as you won’t be chased for clarification!

The success rate is around 30% across England. When planning your project you need to consider what you will do if you don’t get a grant. Don’t think including your plan B will offer an excuse not to fund your project – on the contrary, it will be seen as evidence of good planning and risk management.  Many applicants improve and resubmit their proposals if unsuccessful in the first instance.

It is a rolling programme with budgets spread across the year, so when you apply should not affect your chances of success.

Need some further inspiration? See spoken word performer Polarbear and other artists talk about how Grants for the arts has enabled him to develop his work.

Gemma Seltzer, Arts Council England



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