Sports, leisure and the Arts Cultural Partnership Grants 2023-26

About the grant

The Cultural Partnership grant programme was set up in 2011 to provide core funding for cultural organisations and has run for three consecutive rounds. 

The new round of funding will run from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2026. Grants of £10,000–£40,000 per annum are available.


To fund and support cultural organisations that contribute to making Manchester a thriving, equitable, vibrant and liveable city with high-quality cultural and creative experiences that all Manchester people can benefit from.


Cultural Partnership funding is for organisations committed to delivering high-quality work that is inclusive and equitable, representative of the city’s residents, and that contributes to Manchester’s zero-carbon ambition.

Organisations will need to demonstrate that they meet all four of the following priorities.

  1. High quality - We create brave, bold, and aspirational culture with life-enhancing impacts. Quality is defined by the people we work with. It is measured by the impact we have and the progress we make.
  2. Inclusion and equity - We recognise the systemic inequities that impact on Manchester residents’ health, wellbeing, and quality of life. We are committed to widening access, participation and progression in culture and creativity.
  3. Representation - We are on a well-planned journey to becoming representative of the diversity of the city of Manchester. We can demonstrate how this is reflected in decision-making and leadership roles in our organisation.
  4. Zero-carbon - We will progress towards becoming zero-carbon by 2038 or earlier, and develop climate change action plans in line with this.


These principles are shared by Manchester City Council and the funded organisations.


The grants will support organisations that can:

  • demonstrate awareness of the current context for Manchester residents
  • contribute to the delivery of the Our Manchester Strategy
  • respond to the changes and challenges the world faces.

Collective action

Co-production, partnership working and learning from one another will lead to the greatest impact.


These grants will continue to be offered as multiyear, core funding. This reflects the IVAR principles and our shared belief that flexibility (of both funder and grant recipient) will be central to supporting organisations to be sustainable and responsive. For more information see the IVAR open and trusting grant-making page.

Who is eligible to apply?

The Cultural Partnership grant programme provides core funding for: 

  • cultural or arts-based organisations – as set out in the organisation’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. This includes:
    • Combined Arts, Dance, Museum, Film and Broadcast, Heritage, Literature, Visual Arts, Digital Art, Music, Photography, Theatre and Performance, and Craft 
  • constituted community and voluntary, and not-for-profit organisations 
  • organisations based in the city  of Manchester or that have a track record of delivering activity that benefits the people who live in or visit the city, or organisations that benefit the local economy. 

Find more detailed eligibility information and application guidance

How decisions are made

Eligibility check

Applications will be checked for eligibility by a Council officer. Applications that do not pass the eligibility check will be automatically rejected.


Eligible applications will be assessed and scored by three Council officers. Assessors follow guidance to undertake the scoring. The assessors complete a summary sheet of your application, giving details of the scores plus brief comments on how scores were awarded and the evidence to support their assessment. The consistency of the scoring is checked by an officer who was not involved in the scoring process. All applications that score less than 50% will be rejected. The Guidance document details how scoring will be carried out.


At the balancing stage we will review the highest scoring applications against the following to ensure that the overall aims and priorities of the fund are met:

  • the balance of art forms
  • the types of cultural and creative opportunities available
  • the target audience and participant demographics across the portfolio.


The decision-making panel comprises two senior Council officers and one representative of a cultural organisation based in Manchester that is not eligible for these grants and does not receive any type of funding from the Council. The panel will make the final decision on the applications based on the application scores and balancing, and agree a portfolio of funded organisations.

The panel may also use its discretion to adjust the final grant awards to individual organisations to balance the total budget against the amounts requested.


All applicants will be notified of the outcome by email by 30 December 2022. Feedback is available on request. Panel decisions are final, and appeals are not permitted. Funding offers are conditional on the successful completion of due diligence.

Culture Team officers and members of the scoring and decision-making panels will be unable to accept offers of hospitality, eg. complimentary tickets, from any eligible organisations between 2 September 2022 and 7 October 2022 (the application period). The same will apply for applicant organisations from 7 October 2022 until after the date of the decision-making panel (no later than 30 December 2022).

Due diligence process

Successful organisations will be required to submit all the financial, governance and procedural documentation listed at the start of the application form, which will be reviewed by Council officers. If applicants state they will be working with vulnerable groups, they will be required to produce the appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures. Further guidance on the Council’s expectations around safeguarding are provided within the guidance.

All the documents will be reviewed to ensure that they meet the Council’s requirements. Provided an organisation passes the due diligence stage successfully, the Council will then provide a grant agreement, which includes the funding terms and conditions for you to sign and return.

Important dates

Call for applications 

  • Friday 2 September 2022 

Information sessions 

Deadline for applications 

  • 9am on Friday 7 October 2022 

To avoid disappointment, we recommend submitting your application at least 24 hours before the deadline. Late applications will not be considered. 

Notification of decisions 

  • Friday 30 December 2022 

Due diligence process and grant agreements 

  • Tuesday 31 January 2023 

Start of funding programme 

  • Saturday 1 April 2023 

To avoid data loss, we recommend reading and preparing your answers on the downloadable version of the form before filling out the web form.

If you require the application form in a different format, please contact

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