Issue - decisions

Community Grant Funding Review

08/02/2019 - Community Grant Funding Review



Note – Councillor Janette Jenkinson declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business by virtue of the fact that she was a Director of Ulverston Community Enterprise.  She remained in the meeting during the discussion and voting on the item, although with no voting rights as a Member of the Shadow Cabinet.


The Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder introduced the report.  Details of the current and proposed Community Grants budget allocation were presented in Appendix 2.  For the purposes of this report, the review was focussing primarily on Strategic Cultural Partners and Strategic Community Arts and Events as the current arrangements for funding expired on 31 March 2019.  Previously these arrangements had been for three and two years respectively.


On 15 March 2018, a Delegated Executive Decision (DED) by the Director of Policy and Resources had agreed to a one year extension of the Strategic Community Arts and Events grants payments, for the 2018/19 financial year.  The previous funding agreements had been due to expire on 31 March 2018.  The DED had also agreed to conduct a review of all Community Grants payments, with recommendations going to Cabinet for implementation commencing the 2019/20 financial year.


The community grants for Strategic Community Arts and Events had originally been awarded on 9 April 2015 by a DED for funding in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the community and to the outcomes of the Council Plan 2014-19.


On 31 March 2016 a DED had awarded funding to Strategic Cultural Partners for three years, from 2016/17 to 2018/19.  These organisations were of high importance to the District’s cultural offer, economy and environment, community health and wellbeing, and contribute to the delivery of Council Plan priorities.


Several Strategic Cultural Partners were National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) with Arts Council England (ACE), currently receiving investment for four years (2018-22) - and were recognised as having significant national importance representing some of the best arts practice in the world.


The following proposals intended to set out a principle of maintaining levels of existing funding for community organisations, whilst making strategic investments in a number of key strategic cultural partners.  This would be in place of the current system where cultural organisations were recognised on different tiers - Strategic Cultural Partners, and Strategic Community Arts and Events.


Due to their local, national and, in some cases, international, cultural significance, it was proposed that the following organisations should be included in the list of Strategic Cultural Partners along with those already recognised:-


·         Kendal Mountain Festival

·         Lakes Arts Festivals Ltd (Lakes Comic Arts Festival), and

·         Lakes Alive.


It was proposed that Ulverston Community Enterprise (UCE) become a new Strategic Cultural Partner to assist in the development of a cultural programme at the Coronation Hall.  Kendal Torchlight Carnival and The Old Laundry Theatre were recommended to also be included to recognise their importance to the local community.


It was proposed that the following Strategic Cultural Partners, as described in Appendix 2 to the report, would act as designated cultural hubs, to work alongside and distribute Council funding to smaller organisations.  This would mean all cultural investments would be of a more significant value, whilst continuing with important smaller contributions.


·         Highlights Rural Touring: working with Heron Theatre,

·         Lake District Summer Music: working with Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Society, Westmorland Music Trust (Mary Wakefield Festival), Westmorland Orchestra and Westmorland Youth Orchestra, and

·         UCE: working with Printfest, Ulverston Lantern Festival, Ulverston International Music Festival and South Cumbria Music Festival.


It was proposed, as detailed in Appendix 2 to the report, that all Strategic Cultural Partners would have continued funding for the financial year 2019/20.  This would maintain the level of current strategic partnership working and development.  It would support organisations to seek additional inward investment from key public funders such as Arts Council England, Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and support Council Plan priorities.


It was proposed, as detailed in Appendix 2 to the report, to maintain the current funding agreements with Community Organisations which were due to expire on 31 March 2022.  This would continue to support key health and wellbeing priorities and localism initiatives in the Council Plan.


In presenting the report, the Portfolio Holder raised the significant role played by local arts and cultural organisations and the huge social benefits for those who engaged.  The Council remained committed to supporting to the success of the organisations and thriving creative industries.  He urged Members to grasp opportunities to influence the Government with regard to funding and highlighted how statutory grants could unlock additional funding and investment in the District.  In particular, the Portfolio Holder highlighted the Council’s proud track record of supporting culture within the District.  He also stressed the Council’s hope and ambition to return, in time, to multi-year agreements.


The Council’s continued support for Ulverston Community Enterprise was welcomed and the Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder undertook to make contact with the organisation.


The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder encouraged all Members to introduce groups where it was thought the Council could make a contribution.


The Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder drew attention to the profound impact and benefit which could be made to health and wellbeing through arts and culture.






(1)        the following be approved:-


(a)        the addition of Kendal Mountain Festival, Lakes Arts Festivals Ltd, Lakes Alive, Ulverston Community Enterprises, Kendal Torchlight Carnival and the Old Laundry Theatre to the list of Strategic Cultural Partners; and


(b)       the level of funding for 2019/20 for Strategic Cultural Partners as detailed in appendix 2 to the report; and


(2)        officers be authorised, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, to finalise terms of the funding agreements with each organisation.


Reasons for Decision


The decision will assist in the delivery of the Council Plan Priority, ‘We will develop South Lakeland’s reputation as the UK’s leading rural cultural destinations and as a place for nationally and internationally recognised arts, events and festivals’.


 ‘We will strengthen the district’s cultural and creative industries, supporting our leading cultural organisations to secure investment through Arts Council England and other funding bodies.’


 ‘We will explore opportunities for commissioning services through third sector organisations which provide excellent value for money for our communities.’


South Lakeland District Council will continue its financial support to key community organisations and further invest in strategic cultural partnerships funded through the Community Grants budget.  This will be a targeted approach that further develops South Lakeland’s reputation as a leading rural cultural destination, strengthens the district’s cultural and creative industries and contributes to our community’s health and wellbeing.


Alternative Options Considered and Rejected


Funding support for all the Community Organisations and Strategic Cultural Organisations at the current level for either four, three or two years as previously.  This is not recommended because of the impact of the continued reduction in funding for Local Government from Central Government as well as ongoing spending pressures and the need to realise savings, whilst continuing to provide a good level of services.  The Council needs to maintain some flexibility in expenditure decisions whilst recognising the importance of supporting the strategic cultural partners and community organisations.


Re-open the entire budget for applications for grants for 2019/20 for both Community Organisations and Strategic Cultural Organisations.  This is not recommended due to the preferred strategic targeting of spending as described in paragraph 5.1 of the report and because the Council has moved away from one-off grant funding.  It is also not recommended because this would mean going against previous decisions and commitments.


Ending funding support for some or all community and cultural organisations.  This is not recommended because the funding enables the delivery of a nationally and internationally recognised cultural programme, as well as services and initiatives that benefit local communities, and secures investment from significant external funders, trusts and foundations.  It is also not recommended because this would mean going against previous decisions and commitments.


Note – The Cabinet adjourned for a break at 11.40 a.m. and reconvened at 11.45 a.m.