Partnership Investment

Partnership Investment gives Local Cultural Education Partnerships the power to make change

What is partnership investment?

Arts and culture are a vital part of growing up

Children grow and learn through making, watching, reading, hearing and feeling their way through music, literature, dance, theatre, museums and art of all kinds. They explore themselves and their world, building relationships, skills and passions that set them up for life.

Not every child has the chance to have these experiences. Whether it’s where you live, how much money the adults in your life have, if you have a disability, or any of a wide range of other circumstances; many children face barriers to getting involved with culture and the arts. Culture Bridge North East wants this to change.

Investing in change

Partnership Investment (PI) is part of our plan for making this change; and change is what we want to invest in. PI is not project funding to make a bit more activity happen for a little while. We want to support the development of innovative, sustainable ideas and relationships that embed cultural education. We want to help you create new working partnerships, more effective practice, and intelligent approaches to supporting those children who are missing out.    

Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) are central to achieving this change. LCEPs are strategic partnerships of education and culture professionals coming together to think about the needs of children in their local area. They have the oversight and influence to make a step change in creative, cultural education. PI gives LCEPs the opportunity to act; improving equality of opportunity now and for the future.

What you can do with Partnership Investment

The first thing your LCEP needs is a strategy: what will make effective change to cultural education in your area? What can your partnership do together to make sure a wider range of children and young people are able to get involved?

Remember that PI is primarily about sustainable outcomes. For example, your LCEP might identify that secondary schools in your area are not able to get involved in the arts, and want to create a programme to change that. Consider what that change will look like and how it can be achieved. Might each school develop a new arts policy or curriculum? Might they create staff or governor leadership roles for the arts, and what skills and knowledge will those people need to develop? Could the schools become central partners in your LCEP, or develop individual partnerships with local arts organisations? Think about how your initiative will leave the participants in the strongest possible position at the end.

PI also offers the opportunity for you to create capacity for the development and sustainability of your LCEP. A PI application can include costs for co-ordinating your LCEP, undertaking research, planning, development and evaluation. It is important to include your LCEP in your thinking about the change you want to make: what will you do to leave your LCEP in a stronger position by the end?

Technical requirements

Like every fund, PI has some technical requirements. These are:

  • Initiatives must be led by an LCEP in North East England. We will ask to see documents like your LCEP’s terms of reference and strategy as proof of this.
  • You must apply for at least £25,000.
  • You must have at least 100% cash match funding from non-arts, non-lottery sources. We’ll ask to see evidence that this is committed at the point when we sign our investment agreement with you, but we understand that the money might come in over time rather than all at the start of the initiative. Previous investments have been matched by schools, businesses, local authorities, trusts, foundations, private donors, and combinations of these. 
    July 2021 update – ACE has agreed to accept full applications without match funding being in place. However, match funding must be in place prior to drawing down partnership investment.
  • As PI is funded using money from Arts Council England, your initiative should make use of Artsmark, Arts Award and the Quality Principles as appropriate.
  • Your initiative should run for more than one year.

Decisions about where we invest PI are made by our PI Panel, a sub-group of Culture Bridge North East’s Advisory Board. Every investment is ratified by Arts Council England.

How to apply

The first thing to do if you’re considering PI is get in touch with Culture Bridge North East. We can help you understand and move through the process, and we can support you in developing your plans. LCEPs can talk to their area manager, and you can contact our Investment Specialist, Ammar Mirza, by emailing

We’ll want to talk about your idea: what’s the change you’re hoping to make, and how do you plan to go about it? How will it make your LCEP stronger? We’ll also want to know about your potential sources of match funding. We can talk all of this through with you and make suggestions on how to make your PI application stronger.

The first formal step in applying for PI is to submit an expression of interest to our PI panel. The panel meets quarterly to discuss these. You don’t need a fully-developed plan or secured match-funding in order to do this. The expression of interest is an opportunity for you to let the panel know you’re planning an application, and for you to get feedback directly from the panel before you do more development work. Once they’ve reviewed your expression of interest, members of the panel will meet with you to talk through how you could make a strong application for PI.

If you decide to continue developing an application, you can still access help from Culture Bridge North East. We want to stay in touch throughout this process so we can help make sure your application has the best chance of success. Alongside the application form, you’ll need to submit a programme plan and budget. Applications are also considered by the PI panel on a quarterly basis.

If your application is successful, we will work with you to agree milestones and reporting linked to a payment schedule. We’ll ask for written confirmation that your match funding is committed, then sign our agreement with you and make our first payment. We’ll stay in touch throughout your initiative, making sure things are on track, advising on any challenges that occur, and finding opportunities to profile your work through our programme.

Get in touch to discuss your idea now

Email Ammar Mirza at

Deadlines to submit either an Expression of Interest or a full application are as follows: 

  • 25 March 2022
  • 10 June 2022

PI panel to meet:

  • 25 April 2022
  • 12 July 2022

Click here to view CBNEs Process for Partnership Investment

Application forms

Download your EOI Application form

Download your Full Application form

Past Partnership Investment 2015 - 2018

To read all about the previous round of partnership investment click >> HERE

Here are some fantastic initiatives Culture Bridge North East invested in during 2017:

More Stuff Like This Please, a partnership working to connect care experienced children and young people with creative arts.

The project is led by ARC Stockton in partnership with Stockton Borough Council and Blue Cabin.

Healthy Emotional Lives Programme (HELP), a partnership with Gateshead Council and Whickham schools, to help young people cope with anxiety and stress through the arts.

New Writing North’s Young Writers’ City programme, a partnership with Excelsior Academy, working to support young people to express themselves through creative writing.