Guidance for Applicants


Submissions for the Outset Partners Award open in February and close in March. Applications are extended by invitation to the international network of institutions and art spaces supported by Outset to date, as well as those institutions additionally invited by Outset Partners, Trustees and staff members. If you would like to submit your institution to be considered to join this network, please get in touch with grants@outset.org.uk.

The Outset Partners Award is unique in its open approach and non-prescriptive criteria, providing a space in the cultural sector for developing new aspirations. It has been specifically devised to offer arts organisations a rare opportunity for experimentation and impact and is intended to inspire emboldened thinking.

Outset Partners Awards enable practitioners to transform the way the art institution thinks and acts in the world, acknowledging the need for more experimental forms of funding to do this.

The funding scheme has two strands of support: a single Transformative Award and a number of Impact Awards each cycle. 


The current cultural and social context offers a strong momentum for transformation as well as the opportunity to rethink the art institution of the future and its relationships with the wider community in an ambitious, critical and sustainable way.

Outset Partners are keen to learn what art institutions need and why, what motivates them and where they want to be tomorrow. They are willing to take risks on behalf of genuine innovation and the prospect of meaningful impact.

A ground-breaking Transformative Award of up to £150,000 will be awarded to a public institution to realise a significant project or develop an initiative with a marked transformative aspect. To be eligible to apply, projects have to be announced to the public in the same year as the application cycle, regardless of their realisation date.


Outset Partners will also award several Impact Awards of up to £25,000 to public institutions in support of projects that seek to generate a ripple effect and explore new directions in practice and learning. See below for some themes that have shaped particularly rich and engaging discussions over the last five Cycles (please note that these are not criteria).

  • Novel content or ideas, including encouraging leaders to take risks and think or operate in a different way;
  • Creating ripple effects across or beyond the sector, by reaching new or non-traditional audiences;
  • Engaging with wide audiences in an educational context, including school and university-aged young people and adults;
  • Collaborative work between the arts and scientific sectors, encouraging cross-disciplinary thinking;
  • Creating space for cultural discourse and promoting art as a vehicle for dialogue that is inclusive of all communities;
  • Embodying a generosity of spirit and contributing to a global arts ecology predicated on sharing, connectivity and ongoing learning.