Catalyst Grant Success

Consortium awarded Catalyst grant to help support artistic practice in the UK

A consortium, comprising of Axisweb, a-n The Artists Information Company and Artquest, in association with DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), is delighted to have been awarded £129,843 from Arts Council England’s Catalyst Arts: Building Fundraising Capacity programme.

The group of like-minded organisations and artists first came together 18 months ago, to explore how, collectively, they could champion and support opportunities and continuing professional development for artists across the country.

Initially, the consortium identified a gap in the arts funding environment – with private support for the visual arts, primarily focused on institutions and their buildings, exhibitions and education projects, rather than direct support for artists to develop their practice. In an increasingly precarious financial climate where the majority of artists earn less than £15,000 per year , the consortium has devised a programme of giving to redress the balance and redistribute the wealth.

They plan to secure private funding, which will allow them to distribute a small grants programme for visual artists. This funding will give artists space to develop new work and ideas, develop their talent and help to transform or build their practice.

The Catalyst award will help the consortium to establish this long-term self-sustaining philanthropic grants programme for the benefit of artists at any stage of their careers. The consortium will also take the opportunity to develop the necessary fundraising skills and capacity at all levels of their organisations, and gain the experience to solicit private giving.

Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England says: 'The Catalyst programme helps arts organisations to build their fundraising capacity which is particularly important in today’s challenging climate. I'm delighted that this project has been awarded funding. It will help visual artists develop new work by creating a conduit for philanthropic giving to individual artists.’

The consortium organisations have been working with artists Joseph Young (AIR Council) and Sally Sheinman to devise the fund. Consultants Counterculture were commissioned to develop a business case for the fund.


The consortium organisations
Axisweb supports contemporary art in the UK by giving artists and art professionals a platform to showcase their work, find work opportunities, stay informed and make meaningful connections. With its directory of over 2,500 selected artist and art professionals, the website is an essential research tool for anyone interested in UK contemporary art. The organisation’s opportunities and enquiries service enables users to find the right artist or art professional for their brief, whether it’s a purchase, commission, exhibition project, residency, consultancy opportunity or public programme. The staff team also helps individuals and arts organisations embrace the potential of digital technology. Axisweb is funded by Arts Council England and receives project funding from the Arts Council of Wales.


a-n stimulates and supports contemporary visual arts practice and affirms artists’ value in society. With over 18,500 members, we focus on conversations around the critical and professional environment for the visual arts, bringing together artists, art students, arts professionals, producers and researchers. Within the Artists’ membership, AIR – Artists Interaction and Representation is a voice for artists, with AIR Council leading campaigns to improve artists’ social and economic status. 


Artquest encourages critical engagement and provides practical support to visual artists, working with artists throughout their careers. A comprehensive, free-to-access 2000 page website contains listings, opportunities and articles written by artists and industry professionals covering every aspect of working as a visual artist. Online activity is complimented by a range of talks, seminars, bursaries, and other projects that connect artists with knowledge, resources and each other in order to sustain and develop their careers. Artquest is funded by Arts Council England and University of the Arts London. 


Established by artists for artists, DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society) is a not-for-profit visual arts rights management organisation. DACS’ mission is to transform the financial landscape for artists and estates so that their artistic practice is sustained and their works protected.


Arts Council England and their Catalyst Arts Programme

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

Catalyst Arts Programme

  • This £7 million fund is part of the £110 million Catalyst fund to boost philanthropy by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
  • The Catalyst Arts programme is one of the measures that the Arts Council is putting in place to help create a more sustainable, resilient and innovative arts and cultural sector. A sector which is able to thrive within a mixed economy model of funding, where money from private sources follows public investment and is supported by earned income.
  • The scheme is designed to help organisations with little or no experience of fundraising to:
    - build capacity to address both shared and individual fundraising development needs of consortia members
    - identify and develop effective fundraising models that have a long-term impact on the business model of each organisation