MD2167 Culture Seeds

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
23 August 2017
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

Culture Seeds is a new Mayoral micro-grants programme to support local talent, nurture bright ideas and connect communities at grassroots level through cultural activity from autumn 2017 to spring 2020.

This is a joint programme between the Culture and Communities and Social Policy Units within the Greater London Authority. It has social integration and culture at its heart.

It will contribute to the Mayor’s vision to harness the value of culture to create a more connected and more integrated London, where everyone can participate and feel part of their community.

The fund will help communities to make better use of limited resources, realising new projects and adding value to existing festivals and programmes. The goal is to reach grassroots communities who may not ordinarily access grant funding in London and catalyse change through cultural activity.


That the Mayor approves the following:

• Expenditure on the Culture seeds project from 2017/18-2020/21 set out in the main body of this report. Up to a maximum of £1,000,000 on Culture Seeds grants and £160,000 which will include procurement of a grants management system, delivery and evaluation costs.

• Procurement of a system to support the process of administering and managing grants.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Culture contributes to the Mayor’s vision for a more connected and integrated London. Building a more integrated city means giving people the opportunity to participate in civic life regardless of ethnicity, faith, culture, age-group, income or background. Cultural activities positively promote social integration and cohesion by bringing people together in the creative process through participation and engagement in public performance.

In the publication ‘a City for all Londoners’ the Mayor stated his ambitions for London and belief that for a city to be successful, Londoners in all their diversity must live well together. Culture can be a leading uniting factor for communities across London. Culture enriches people’s lives bringing social and health and well-being benefits, also accounting for one in six jobs in London and being a main driver of regeneration.

However current statistics show that, even though London is internationally renowned as being a leading global city in terms, only one third of Londoners feel that they currently make the most of the amazing and varied cultural offerings right on their doorstep. London is home to globally renowned cultural institutions, yet too many Londoners are still not engaging in culture or cultural activities.

Culture Seeds is a new £1.16m micro-grants programme to support local talent, nurture bright ideas and connect communities at grassroots level through culture between autumn 2017 and spring 2020.

Great ideas come from each and every Londoner. The micro-grants will stimulate and support brilliant ideas generated by grassroots community organisations who are unlikely to access other forms of grant funding.

Internal consultation indicates a strong appetite from across a range of GLA teams to connect with
and promote Culture Seeds to communities and stakeholders with whom they engage. These micro-
grants will enable team across the GLA to engage and connect with small organisations and
community groups and broaden access to cultural activity for all Londoners and community groups.

Objectives and expected outcomes

Eight grants rounds will run from October 2017 to May 2020. Each round will allocate approximately £120,000 with flexibility to respond to expected higher seasonal demand to support outdoor and summer activities. Grants will be available within the range £1000 to £5000. This will ensure investment is deployed to attract small and micro projects.

Culture Seeds will be primarily aimed at individuals and organisations that are often too small or informally constituted to apply for grants. These small grants will make a big difference to communities by generating locally relevant cultural activity. The top priority is to connect with London’s ‘hard to reach’ communities in a simple but effective way. As an example, this could include granted individuals and organisations holding local cultural events aimed at young people or running cultural workshops for local communities to widen access and engage more Londoners with culture and the arts.

A key objective is to reach communities and projects that are potentially harder to reach. A light touch application process with up to 10 questions/1000 words or video applications are being developed to ensure organisations do not face barriers to access grant funding. Proportionate due diligence will be employed, in line with the GLA’s grant funding toolkit, to manage risk. Applying organisations will be subject to a credit check and smaller un-constituted groups will be required to provide two reference letters and relevant financial documents. Reporting will be kept streamlined so that organisations can focus on the delivery of their Culture project, keeping the bureaucracy of monitoring and reporting in proportion to the grant.

We hope the leverage of funded projects will support the Mayor to calculate the value added into the grassroots community sector.

The validation and decision-making process comprises assessment and scoring against criteria by GLA officers. Applications meeting all the basic criteria will be shortlisted for review by an awarding panel meeting quarterly. Grant approvals will be subject to applicants meeting necessary due diligence requirements.

Organisations and projects applying for Culture Seeds micro-grants will need to demonstrate the

• A creative approach at the heart of the proposal. Activities funded by Culture Seeds must be shared creative experiences made by Londoners that build bridges between communities. Grants can be used to fund arts and cultural projects and activities in London’s communities. This includes visual and performing arts (including music), heritage projects, digital art, cultural events/festivals, literature, spoken word or creative writing.

• Evidence of leadership and proposed partnerships are in place.

• Commitment to openness, community participation and fostering connections between different communities.

The Culture and Creative Industries Unit will procure a grants management system to administer the grant awards and to ensure that they can be managed in the most efficient most user-friendly way possible due to the volume of grants and size of the programme. An assessment has been undertaken to ensure a grant solution which is best value and represents the best fit for the demands of a microgrants programme.

Evaluation will start at programme inception, tracking the logic model and capturing the social, cultural and economic impacts of the investment. Culture Seeds will be evaluated to assess the impact of the investment and local activity. Geographical spread, grant level, activity type and beneficiaries will be monitored. Findings will feed into programme development over years two and three, especially identifying communities and geographical areas where fewer applications have been received.

A set of Key Performance Indicators will track impact and deliverables for the programme. Metrics will include numbers of events, direct and indirect beneficiaries and audiences, volunteers, event type, map of partnerships and investment leveraged. Assets created will include showcase films and photography for promotional and documentation use.

Grant recipients will have access to resources, surgeries and local borough networks. Designing-in capacity building will support legacy for grant recipients by better connecting them with networks in their local area and better placing them to connect with pan-London opportunities. Culture Seeds will celebrate local talent and new partnerships by harnessing the creative interests of local people and voluntary organisations, arts centres and libraries. It will empower local people and organisations to support and develop creative talent and brilliant ideas on their doorstep.

A Coordinator post will be created as part of the management of the project. Currently the grade of the post is unknown.

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have
‘due Regard’ of the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well
as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a
protected characteristic and those who do not.

This new programme will be open to all individuals and organisations that meet the specified criteria and who wish to apply for grant funding. The funding will be issued fairly and transparently, with all applications being scored against equal criteria.

The Culture and Creative Industries Unit will ensure that any organisations who apply have firm and robust equality policies in place at their organisations and are committed through their funding agreements to proactively apply the principles of the Equality Act 2010, and to regularly refresh their equality and diversity policies and practices.

Culture Seeds programme aims to enable greater access to funding for grassroots organisations who seek to create positive impact in their local communities, and increase the opportunity for those individual and organisations to apply for funding who previously may not have had such access to other grant funding schemes.

Other considerations

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

The Culture Seeds programme will deliver against the following Mayoral commitments:

• A City for All Londoners, wherein culture is outlined as the golden thread, both for integrating and strengthening communities and supporting more liveable and successful places.

• That all Londoners can benefit and participate from the city’s arts and culture.

• The Mayor’s vision for Healthy Streets, which are more welcoming to people and encourage them to make active and sustainable travel choices, for example by contributing to the healthy streets aspiration of ‘things to see and do’.

Financial comments

Approval is being sought to authorise the expenditure of £1.16m on a new micro grant programme which supports culture within community contexts.

The proposed programme is expected to run over four financial years in which expenditure of £410,000 is expected to take place in 2017/18 and £250,000 in each of the subsequent three years.

As grants are issued, most likely prospectively, applicants will be subject to due diligence checks.

Activity table



Procurement of grant management contract

Summer 2017


Autumn 2017

Delivery Start Date

Autumn 2017

Final evaluation start and finish (external)

Autumn 2017-2020

Delivery End Date

Summer 2020

Project Closure:

March 2021

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