If you are unhappy with a funding decision, you are entitled to ask for a funding review. A Funding Review looks at whether, in assessing your application, ACNI have followed the assessment procedures as published in the guidance notes, and whether those procedures are deficient. It is not a re-assessment of your application. If your Funding Review Request is successful, your application will go for re-assessment.
To ensure that your Funding Review Request is dealt with fairly and efficiently, we ask that you follow the relevant process outlined in our Funding Review Request Guidelines below. Please note: the Funding Review Request process only applies to applications which have been assessed; not to applications which have been rejected as ineligible.
Contact Staff Member
If you are unhappy about a funding decision, you must first contact the staff member responsible for handling your application to request feedback and raise your concerns.
• This contact can be in writing, by e-mail or by telephone
• The contact must be within 10 working days of the date of the letter of rejection/letter of offer.
If, following your initial discussions with the staff member via writing, e-mail or by telephone, you still think that the funding decision is flawed on the basis that (a) the Arts Council failed to follow its own procedures, or that (b) its procedures were deficient, and you intend to proceed with a formal request for a funding review of the decision, you must meet with an ACNI staff member prior to submission of your Funding Review Request paperwork.
Important points to note:
• Funding Reviews are not a mechanism for providing feedback. If you want feedback on an application, please contact your assessor via email or phone and request feedback. If you are dissatisfied with the level of detail given in the feedback provided by any assessor and want more information, then advise the assessor of this and a meeting can be arranged at which your application will be discussed in further detail and any of your remaining queries clarified.
• In any funding round, it is important to remember that decisions are made not simply on the merit of any given application in isolation, but in a wider context involving multiple other applications to a limited budget.
• You cannot ask for a Review against a Council decision that was taken on the grounds of artistic quality.
• Funding Reviews cannot consider any material not submitted at the time of your application. Any additional application material you submit with your Funding Review Request will not be considered and will not inform the Review process. Remember that a Funding Review is not a re-assessment of your application; it is not an opportunity to re-submit a strengthened or altered proposal.
Meet with Staff Member
If, following your initial discussions with the staff member via writing, e-mail or by telephone, you still think that the funding decision is flawed on the basis that (a) the Arts Council failed to follow its own procedures, or that (b) its procedures were deficient, and you intend to proceed with a formal request for a funding review of the decision, you must meet with an ACNI staff member prior to submission of your Funding Review Request paperwork. Contact the relevant staff member as soon as possible to arrange a meeting. The meeting can be in person or via Zoom/Microsoft Teams etc.
- The meeting must be within 12 working days of the date of the letter of rejection/letter of offer.
Submission of written funding review request
Funding Review Request forms are available from the Arts Council’s website, by email or in hard copy from the staff member responsible for your original application.
These forms must be submitted within 15 working days of the date of the rejection letter/letter of offer, irrespective of whether you are conducting ongoing correspondence/discussion with ACNI staff concerning your application. Please note that if you submit a Funding Review Request after the 15 working day deadline has passed, it will not be accepted. Download Funding Review Request Form.
Reviews will only be considered on the grounds that:
(a) The Arts Council failed to follow its own procedures or processes as described in the Guidance Notes for the particular scheme.
(b) If you feel the procedures or processes set out in the guidelines are deficient.
Important points to note:
Your Funding Review Request will be invalid – ie, it will not be considered - if
• You fail to identify which of the above 2 criteria applies to your request, or
• You fail to indicate the grounds and detail upon which you are requesting the review.
Your request for a funding review will be passed to the Director of Operations. If your request is considered valid it will follow one of the following procedures, dependent on the grant programme and/or amount of grant requested.
a) Annual Funding Programme
At the end of the 15 working day period valid Funding Review Request forms will be passed to an Independent Reviewer along with the programme guidance notes, the application file, the officer assessment and record of the final decision.
The Independent Reviewer will reach their decision within 25 working days of their receipt of Funding Review Request form from the Arts Council.
If the Independent Reviewer finds that the Council’s processes/procedures were deficient or incorrectly applied, s/he will have the authority to ask for the application to be re-assessed. The Independent Reviewer does not have the authority to award a grant. The re-assessments will normally be carried out within 10 working days of the Reviewer’s decision. It is important to note that re-assessment is not a guarantee that funding will be awarded.
Decisions of the Independent Reviewer will be brought to the attention of the Board of the Arts Council at its next scheduled meeting, dates of which are on the Arts Council website.
b) All other grant programmes
At the end of the 15 working day period, the Chief Executive of the Council will assess your Funding Review Request Form, along with the relevant grant programme guidance notes, application file, officer assessment and record of the final decision. Normally, you will be notified of the Chief Executive’s decision within 20 working days. If the Chief Executive finds in your favour, your original funding application will be re-assessed against the relevant programme criteria. This will normally be carried out within 10 working days of the Chief Executive’s decision. There is no guarantee that funding will be forthcoming.
Decisions of the Chief Executive will be brought to the attention of Board of the Arts Council at its next scheduled meeting, dates of which are on the Arts Council website.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Stage 2 Review, you can contact the Ombudsman:
Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO), Progressive House, 33 Wellington Place, Belfast BT1 6HN
You should be aware that the Ombudsman will normally not investigate a complaint which has not been through the above procedure.