Partnership Investment

Partnership Investment Challenge 2017

Partnership investment is a new approach to cultural funding, with the purpose of helping organisations to lever new income to support high quality cultural education by, for and with children and young people. We want to invest in change, supporting sustainable ideas and relationships that embed cultural education. 

In 2017-18 Culture Bridge North East has match-funding of up to £250,000 to invest in high quality cultural activity for children and young people in the North East of England and you can apply for £25,000 or more. Applicants will need to demonstrate how investment from us unlocks and levers in new investment and sources of income that have not previously supported cultural education activity.

We are looking for long-term, sustainable improvements in capacity and structure, changing practice and developing strategic partnerships. We will not fund one off projects where the sole outcomes are experiences for children and young people nor work where the main outcome is an artistic product. We are particularly interested in work which:

  • Improves equality of access between children from different backgrounds
  • Sustainably enhances the consistency, quality and quantity of provision
  • Enhances personal outcomes for children and young people, such as resilience and wellbeing

Partnership investment leaflet


The Partnership Investment Challenge is open to any organisation or partnership working with or supporting children and young people in the North East of England, either strategically or at a grass-roots level. You might be in the culture, education, health and wellbeing, or children and young people sector, or in another area entirely, but you must have a desire and evidenced need to engage in high quality cultural education for children and young people.

Most importantly, you will need to demonstrate how investment from us unlocks and levers in new investment and sources of income that have not previously supported cultural education activity, on at least a £ for £ basis (i.e. each £1 of partnership investment unlocks at least £1 of other funding). For example, your match funding might come from Further and Higher Education, the private sector, trusts and foundations, Local Enterprise Partnerships, school trusts or academy chains, sports funds, or Local Authority services like health and housing. The important thing is that the money wouldn’t normally be used to support cultural education.

We expect there to be sustainability in what you are proposing: either in relation to the outcomes you achieve, the programme you establish, the revenue and operating models you are building, or the ways of working and services you develop and put in place.

Where possible, we are keen to see other Arts Council England resources being used as part of the work you do, such as Artsmark, the Quality Principles and Arts Award.

We are looking for proposals that require a minimum of £25,000 from the Partnership Investment Challenge fund. During 2017-18 we will be able to support a maximum of 10 proposals.

We will need evidence that the income or investment you are levering is committed, or will be by the time the work starts, and would not have previously been spent on cultural education activity.

How to apply and timescales

Partnership investment starts with you expressing interest and telling us something about the work you plan to do. Applications are currently closed, but if you have any questions before the next deadline, which will be in 2018, please contact us on 0191 277 2243 or at

Expressions of interest that have been submitted are being considered by our Partnership Investment Working Group, and final sign-off rests with Arts Council England.

If your application has been successful, we'll get back to you within four weeks of your Expression of Interest for discussions about the next steps, working with you to develop more detailed plans appropriate to the investment you are levering. Our aim is to minimise paperwork and turn proposals around rapidly. So, for example, if you are producing detailed plans for other investors, we'll aim to work with these too, rather than asking for duplication or for similar information to be presented in different ways.

Projects we've invested in to date

  • Culture Bridge North East co-invested with the EU Youth Employment Initiative to develop a new partnership in Middlesbrough between the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, the Prince's Trust and Teesside University. Together, the partners are providing new activity to help young people who are not in education, employment or training. 
  • We've also co-invested with a philanthropist donor to set up an endowment fund at the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. The Culture Bridge North East Fund will provide a sustainable source of small grants for cultural education.
  • Together with Curious Minds, and IVE, the Bridge organisations for the North West, and Yorkshire and Humberside respectively, we've co-invested with Rugby League Cares to establish a partnership between dance organisations and Rugby League clubs across the north of England. Together, the partners will provide high quality dance provision in non-engaged communities with strong progression routes for young people.