Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Funding and Development Agency
for The Arts in Northern Ireland

028 9262 3555

Funding for Organisations
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Annual Funding Programme

Sorry, this scheme is closed. If you need help please contact us

The arts sector is, once again, facing a financially challenging year so please read these notes carefully before filling in the application form.  It should be noted that all grants made under this programme are only guaranteed on the basis that the Arts Council continues to receive sufficient Exchequer funds from the Department for Communities and, in the case of Lottery funding, from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.

The over-riding aim of the Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme is to support Northern Ireland’s arts infrastructure through grants to organisations in all artforms and practices for their core and programming costs.

The Arts Council’s Annual Funding Programme has been  independently reviewed by the Strategic Investment Board to ensure strategic alignment with the draft Programme for Government (PfG)2016-2021 and the Minister’s emerging Strategy for Culture and Arts (2016-26).

The report verified that AFP funded organizations and partners can help the Arts Council to deliver effectively against the PfG.

The Arts Council will monitor and report to the Department for Communities on the outcomes from the AFP to ensure strategic alignment with indicator 27, Improve Cultural Participation, and its outcomes which are:

  • An innovative creative society where people can fulfil their potential;
  • A shared society that respects diversity;
  • A confident, welcoming outward looking society,
  • A place where people want to live and work, to visit and invest
  • Where we give our children and young people the best start in life.

For organisations not previously in receipt of an Annual Funding Programme award.

If you are considering applying to the Annual Funding Programme you will be required, as part of the process, to upload a set of documents to the Government Funding Database.  This can take some time. Note applicants based outside Northern Ireland are not required to upload documents to the Database but are required to submit the documents with the application form.

  • Constitution and/or Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Most recent set of Audited/Certified/adopted accounts.
  • Organisation Chart
  • List of office bearers
  • Rental Agreement/Lease of Evidence of ownership

If you are not currently on the Database you will be required to register at

Full instructions for uploading documents are available here.

Failure to upload documents to the Government Funding Database will mean your application will not be assessed.

Who can apply?

Organisations receiving support must demonstrate that they require a year-round resource and should apply for their complete programme for the year.

All applications should fit within the objectives stated in the Council’s five year plan and within its artform policies. Both the five year plan Ambitions for the Arts and the artform policies are available on the website and you should read these before completing the application form. 

This programme is not designed for organisations planning short term or fixed term projects, or single or one-off annual events.  

How to apply?

The programme is divided into 2 distinct elements – core and programming.  All applicants must complete both elements of the application and it is anticipated that clients will receive funding from both Exchequer and Lottery sources.

(i) Core costs: These costs will be met from Exchequer funds
(ii) Programming costs: These costs will be met from Lottery funds

If awarded there can be no movement between the core and programming elements.

The Guidance Notes for the scheme, sample application forms, artform criteria documents  and guidance on the Government Funding Database are available from the links below.  


Guidance Notes - All Clients
Instructions on uploading documents to GFD
Sample Application Form Core Costs - Returning
Sample Application Form Core Costs - New Clients
Sample Application Form Programming Costs - All
Annual Funding Programme Criteria
Drama & Dance Criteria
Literature Criteria
Music & Opera Criteria
Participatory Arts Criteria
Studio Groups and Residential Facilities Criteria
Traditional Art Criteria
Venues & Festivals Criteria
Visual Arts, Craft & Architecture Criteria

You may only apply online. We will not accept applications in hard copy or by email.

Online applications may be edited, saved and returned up to the closing date. You can return both parts of the application separately but you MUST submit ALL documents associated with each part of the application at the same time. 

All documents must be in Word, Excel or pdf format.  We cannot accept documents in other formats.   Total size of documents should not exceed 25 Mb.

Please ensure that you leave sufficient time to upload all documents to the system as there can be long delays as the closing deadline approaches and the system will shut down at 4.00 pm on the closing date.   If your complete application is not uploaded when the system closes your application will not be accepted.

It is your responsibility to ensure that we receive the application form and documents by the closing time and date. 

All of the information you provide will be held on computer.  This information will be used for the administration of applications and grants, for producing statistics and information on successful applicants.