Outset Partners Grants Programme


Now in its second year, the invitation-only Outset Partners Grants Programme will award up to £275,000 in grants per annum to eligible public institutions.

Applications open: 10.00am (GMT), 9 September 2019
Applications close: midnight (GMT), 16 October 2019


Drawing on more than fifteen years of expertise in arts philanthropy, Outset launched Outset Partners in 2018, a new responsive patronage model for realising the institutional vision and supporting impactful change in the arts landscape. A diverse group of dynamic philanthropists, Outset Partners work together to meet the evolving needs of the creative ecosystem, and exercise total flexibility in the ways they are able to offer support.

Outset Partners believe it is essential to support and champion brave and intelligent transformation in the arts and culture sector, as well as projects that defy traditional categorisation. Their approach to collective decision-making is based on understanding the pressing needs and urgent challenges facing institutions today and what is motivating practitioners in the present moment.


The Outset Partners Grants Programme is unique in its openness and non-prescriptive criteria and provides a space in the art sector for developing new aspirations. It has been specifically devised to offer art organisations a rare opportunity for experimentation and impact and is intended to inspire emboldened thinking.

Outset Partners Grants 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 Grants Programme embraces the following values:

  • Open-endedness
  • Innovation
  • Transformation
  • Risk-taking
  • Impact and catalytic effect

The funding scheme has two strands of support: a single Transformative Grant of £150,000 and up to five Impact Grants of £25,000 each. Applications are extended by invitation only 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 senior staff members.


A ground-breaking Transformative Grant of £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 2020, regardless of their realisation date.

The current cultural 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.

The Transformative Grant would allow institutions to focus on the process and catalytic effects rather than anticipating quantifiable outcomes and a final result.


Outset Partners will also award up to five Impact Grants of up to £25,000 each to public institutions in support of projects that fall under one or more of the following categories: Education; Commission and Production; Institutional Collecting; Exhibition and Publication Support; Professional Development, and Creative Infrastructure.

Impact Grants seek to support high-quality projects that will generate a ripple effect and explore new directions in practice and learning. These might include projects that extend the commitment to audience outreach and participation, diversity, experimentation or enable organisations to develop collaborative relationships and partnerships.

Eligible funding proposals would generally fall under one or more of the following areas, however, please note the below are illustrative and not prescriptive criteria:

  • Delivery of empowering projects working with children, young people and/or people with protected characteristics
  • Realisation of innovative, challenging art productions, exhibitions and publications
  • Growth of public collections
  • Nurturing of artistic development and curatorial leadership
  • Provision of affordable workspaces for the artistic community


Founded in 2003, Outset Contemporary Art Fund is an international and independent charity pooling donations from patron circles and corporate partners to support new art for the widest possible audiences.

Outset first introduced a pioneering paradigm of collective patronage to fund challenging artistic projects and it operates on a global scale. The charity has evolved over the years and it is now recognised for creating a model of responsive arts philanthropy including innovative public-private schemes and initiatives. Practising catalytic philanthropy means not only offering crucial funding support but also activating networks and initiating new relationships and partnerships.

Outset is powered by inspiration, driven by expertise, renowned for its engagement and focused on effective energy and ideas.

The Outset Partners Grants Programme seeks to cement the organisation’s current network and build long-lasting relationships within the national and international artistic community.


Please note that applications to invited institutions open on Monday 9 September at 10.00am, upon receipt of a second notification containing the link to the submissions platform, as well as a more detailed timeline on the selection process.

For further eligibility and application details, please see below our FAQ’s.