This week marks the 25th birthday of The National Lottery. Since it was launched in 1994, The National Lottery has raised more than £40 billion for good causes across the UK, via a contribution of approximately 24p for every £1 of ticket sales. At present, 40% of this has been awarded to health, education, environment and charitable causes, with the remaining 60% distributed evenly between sports, arts and heritage projects.
Lottery funding has made a huge difference to the arts and cultural sector in the UK. Imagining what the UK might look like today without lottery funding, the National Lottery has released a wonderfully playful video of the illusionist Julius Dein making Anthony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North in Gateshead disappear! Gormley’s sculpture is one of the UK’s most famous pieces of public art and is seen by 90,000 people every day. Its disappearance from the skyline of Gateshead is a playful but vivid reminder of the importance of lottery funding for the arts, and, more generally, of the centrality of arts and culture in civic pride.
With brilliant transparency, anyone can search every grant awarded since 1994 via the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s lottery grant search. For someone like me who loves a bit of excel sheet number crunching this is a vast and fascinating resource. A quick search shows that since 1994 over £244 million of lottery funding has been awarded for 4,767 projects in the Highlands region. Of this, £23,499,300 has been awarded for arts projects, with funding distributed across the entire region. It is interesting to note that as a percentage of the total, grants awarded to arts projects in the Highlands represents approximately 10% of total grant, which is lower than the UK average (approx. 20%), and which suggests that there’s plenty of scope to enable even more lottery funding to be distributed to arts projects in the Highlands.
At Eden Court, we’ve benefited hugely over the last 25 years from the support of funding through the National Lottery, including a generous grant of £2,384,800 in towards the redevelopment of Eden Court in 2004-2007. As we look to the future, we want to support more artists and makers from across the Highland region , and we would love to see more artists and arts organisations secure funding from lottery sources. In my role as Head of Strategic Development and Partnerships, I’ll be working with the team at Eden Court to further our ambition of presenting and making work with, by and for the people of the Highlands and Islands and those who visit us. Partnership-working is crucial to achieving this vision, and I look forward to working with colleagues across local and national government, and with our many and varied stakeholders, including our audiences and participants, and artists and makers from across the Highlands. If you have an idea about how Eden Court can support artists and makers to enable more art in the Highlands do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
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