CRF common issues & top tips

So you are writing an Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) Round 2 application?

I feel your pain!

My team is reviewing bids and there as some common issues we are already seeing so I thought it was worth sharing those.

In no particular order!


They are there for a reason.

The main issues we have seen so far is people not following the prompts that ACE has laid out. Again, they are there for a reason.

If you do not follow them you risk missing information that ACE and DCMS want to know.

Quick fire issues and tips!

In no particular order!

  • The focus of CRF2 is not the same as CRF1. CRF1 was about ‘immediate risks’ up to March 2021. CRF2 is about ‘transition back to a viable and sustainable operating model during April-June 2021’
  • I get asked a lot about how much you can apply for – ACE states ‘we do not expect requests to exceed 25% of your annual turnover (plus up to eight weeks’ reserves).’. The ‘expect’ is key! If you need more for a particular reason then ask for it but remember you need to be very clear about why you are asking for more. This fund will be competitive.
  • The CRF 2 the split will be 70%/30% and not 90%/10% as last time.
  • The activity period is 1st April – 30th June 2021. Your Delivery plan table dates can not be before 1st April or after 30th June.
  • The guidance from ACE was updated on 14th January so make sure you check the latest information. They are also adding new information to the FAQs so keep an eye on the website
  • Question 5 is 4000 characters whether you answer a and b together or just a or b. Some people thought if they only did b they could write 2000 characters.
  • Budget and Cashflow – make sure you fill in the ‘Breakdown by fund/ Cash breakdown by fund’ sections at the bottom. Lots are missing that information!
  • The expenditure table is only what you are planning to spend the ACE CRF2 grant on – not all of your expenditure as it was in CRF1
  • The expenditure table ‘description’ column and the delivery plan table ‘Activity or task details’ has 100 characters PER ROW – use it! There is space here to explain what you do not have space to elsewhere. (Amended here – my form let you do 2000 but most people’s only do 100! ACE has confirmed that 100 was the intention)
  • If you haven’t already started draft in word and not in Grantium! Grantium and challenging at the best of times.
  • ACE can offer you less than you ask for – this is not an all or nothing fund.
  • If you are having issues with the Cashflow of Budget template try downloading them again. ACE have uploaded new versions as the original versions had locked cells.

Phone friend!

This round of CRF is tough, whether you worked on CRF1 or not. The questions are harder, you are more tired and you are in lockdown.

Be kind to yourself – phone a friend for help! Or buddy up to support each others bids.

Where can I get data?

Deprivation data

The area is an area of deprivation if the Super Output Area (SOA) or the Lower Output Area (LOA) is in the bottom 20%. Output areas are to do with population sizes. Sadly the lower the better for this information.

Cultural Engagement

You might know this anecdotally or you can use the ACE data here:

Local Data

Look on your council website and your Local Economic Partnership website. Or google!

What about you?

Any common issues?

Any questions?