Poltimore Capital Grant Applications to ACE and HLF: Our applications

In January 2001, having become established as a Charity and had a first meeting of Trustees, CCANW submitted an application to ACE/ACP for £2,500,000 from a total capital scheme of £11,170,000 with EDDC’s Lottery Funding Working Party recommending a grant of £461,000 in partnership funding. English Heritage intimated that a repair grant of £1,000,000 might be available.

The application to ACE involved the completion of simple form which Val Millington helped to complete. The application guidance specifically precluded the addition of further material and nothing from our extensive Development Study was required.

SWA’s Officers and Board Members compiled a list of preferred applications (including ourselves) from the region, each of which was marked out of 20. This was sent to ACE who added their own marking. When the shortlist was returned it did not include Poltimore.

Meanwhile, a first stage application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (inter-dependent with our ACE application) for £4,872,720 towards the cost of restoring the historic building was made in April 2001. The applications were accompanied by letters of support from Nicholas Serota and Jonathan Porritt. The application to HLF was withdrawn by us in August when the bid to ACE failed.

On 1 May 2001 CCANW’s Trustees wrote to the Secretary of State because they believed that consultation had not taken place between ACE and HLF over the inter-dependent applications. A reply assured them that consultation would take place. The head of the ACP assured us in June that he had consulted the Chief Executive of the HLF about the two applications.

In June 2001 ACE announced that 60 projects worth £90 million had been admitted to the Capital Programme, and this did not include Poltimore. At just under £5 million, South West England was among the three lowest regions to benefit, a third less per capita than the national average. Of this, 76% went to Bristol where existing projects were already budgeted to receive 60% of all visual arts revenue grants for the region. London received over £27 million.

Although it had not been requested, in September 2001 CCANW sent its completed seven volume Development Study to ACE and invited comments. Copies were also sent to SWA, EDDC, PROSPER and SWRDA. Angela Browning MP wrote a letter of support to HLF.

In December 2001 ACE held their own case conference in London on our Development Study, based on having been sent a précis of it by SWA. I met with the ACE’s Director of Visual Arts before the meeting which she attended. We asked for feedback from our ACE Case Officer but she had sent it to a consultant to read. The only comment (repeated twice) was that ACE could find ‘nothing detrimental’ to say about it.

Despite further requests from CCANW, ACE still did not provide any useful feedback and in June 2002 CCANW requested a further meeting with ACE’s Director of Visual Arts to try to establish how ACE could best communicate its support for our project to HLF. This meeting was declined with the comment that ACE was ‘particularly supportive of uniting contemporary arts and heritage to mutual advantage. The financial viability of the project remains a concern for ACE’. No such concern had been voiced by them before.

SWA intimated that ACE would have felt happier if our application had followed a successful bid to HLF. In turn, HLF asked for a discussion with ACE over the likely degree of support for a CCANW re-application to ACP in 2003. HLF advised English Heritage and CCANW that they might look to fund a percentage of the entire capital project if the emphasis was on conservation rather than the new galleries, up to a maximum of 75% of the total. They are keen to pursue a solution and welcomed a round table discussion.

In October 2002 that meeting was held at the Exeter offices of the HLF which involved the Director of the ACP, two Officers from HLF, Nick Capaldi the Chief Executive of SWA and two others of his staff. It addressed the possibility of a new application to ACP and HLF during the next round of the ACP in 2003.

The likelihood was that in 2003 only £50 million would be available to spend across the whole country and that the scale of Poltimore was probably too large to attract significant funding. Our project had not particularly conformed to the latest ACP criteria and had a ‘risky’ business plan. SWA still liked the project but new revenue funding would stretch their already tight budget. HLF also still liked the project but were concerned about the business plan and lack of ACE support.

Revised application to HLF

Savings were made from the previous capital costings and in December 2001 a new stage one bid was submitted to HLF for £6,800,000 (+£325,800 for development work leading to a stage two bid) towards restoring the historic parts of the House and the new build part of the regeneration plan. The revised business plan showed that CCANW at Poltimore could be self-supporting on 115,000 paying visitors a year.

In July 2002 HLF declined to offer the grant but did provide detailed feedback which identifies weaknesses in the application. In summary, these came down to cost, shortfall in partnership funding, unsecured revenue grants, over-optimistic levels of visitors and shortage of other sources of income. HLF’s concern was over financial viability and Poltimore was competing with projects with a proven track record backed by local authorities and sound capital/revenue input.

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Haldon Fundraising History 2005-2013

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