The South West Bridge Challenge Fund 2018-19

Since the Challenge Fund started in 2014, it has supported 49 organisations to successfully lever £1.5million from a wide range of new sources, many of which have continued to invest in work across the SW region. It has also enabled these organisations to innovate, take risks and develop new ‘socially enterprising’ models and ways of working that then sustain and continue to create significant impact for children and young people.

The Challenge Fund is open to any organisation or partnership working with or supporting children and young people in the ACE-defined SW region of England – either strategically or at grassroots level. They can be working in any sector but must have a desire and evidenced need to engage with high quality cultural education for children and young people.

Challenge Fund 2018-19 will build on the success of previous years and, going forward, also support the aims and objectives of the emerging Cultural Education Partnerships (CEPs) across the SW.

“We could not have run [the Propeller] programme without Real Ideas support. We might be able to lever future funding in the strength of its success.”

Antony Waller

Dance Republic 2

Challenge Fund Recipients 2018-19

As our 2018-19 Challenge Fund recipients begin to get their projects rolling, we’ll be interviewing them so they can share their stories and ambitions. Here are the case studies we have so far:

The Challenge Fund is currently closed for submissions

We are no longer accepting submissions to the Challenge Fund 2018 – 2019.

For more information please contact us or subscribe to our newsletter.


Children and young people must be the major beneficiaries of the activity, programmes, products or services developed and paid for by the new income streams, although we recognise and are interested in the many additional benefits that will come from new forms of investment too. We recognise that we are working in complex and challenging times, so activity paid for by the Challenge Fund and levered income can be new, but we are also interested in new ways of paying for existing activity, especially if traditional funding is in jeopardy or no longer available.

Most importantly, you will need to be able to demonstrate how investment from the Challenge Fund unlocks and levers in new investment and sources of income that have not previously supported cultural activity on, at least, a £ for £ basis (i.e. £1 from the Challenge Fund unlocks at least £1 of other funding, income or investment from other sources).

We would expect there to be sustainability in what you are proposing: either in relation to the outcomes you achieve, the project or programme you establish, the revenue and operating models you are building, or the ways of working and services you develop and put in place.

We would like to see innovation – though not necessarily in what you are proposing to do, but, as above, in how the activity can be paid for or supported longer term, the business and operating models you are putting in place, or the partnerships and financial relationships you establish. You will also need to demonstrate how your proposals and model might provide lessons for others to follow and learn from, and be prepared to share these as your work develops.

In addition we are keen to see other Arts Council resources and frameworks being used and implemented as part of the outcomes of your proposed activity, such as Arts Award, Artsmark and the Ace quality principles.

When you have submitted your expression of interest it will be read and scored by a panel consisting of ACE and RIO representatives and in addition to assessing overall strength and viability there will be particular focus on the following areas:

  • CEP and locality needs and priorities – does the proposal support and connect to CEP plans and priorities (where there is an emerging CEP in your locality). Where this is not the case, or plans are still emerging, are you focusing on evidenced needs and priorities in your community and working with others on this.
  • Focus on disadvantage – in the SW we have a particular focus on the ‘Creative Case’, diversity, inclusion and disadvantage. Does the proposal support this focus and are you seeking to work with and help create opportunity for those in need?
  • Partnership working – does the proposal demonstrate a strong and mutually beneficial approach to partnership?
  • Co-Production – Is the voice of Young People evident in your project and have you worked with Young People to develop your ideas
  • Sustainability – will the proposal help develop models, practice, programmes, products or services that stand a good chance of financially sustaining and continuing to create social impact beyond the initial support from the Challenge Fund because of their socially enterprising nature?
  • Transferability – is the model or project that you are working to establish one that can be replicated across other services and localities

“We are adamant we would not have achieved as much as we have without the Challenge Fund investment; not only in financial terms but in the time and expertise Real Ideas staff brought to the table.”


B Sharp

2015-16 Challenge Fund Recipient

What are we looking for?

We are looking for proposals requiring a minimum of £25,000 and a maximum of £75,000 from the Challenge Fund.

We will need evidence that the income or investment you are levering is committed, or will be, by the time that your work commences and would not have previously been spent on cultural activities. We will pay our funds in instalments: 30% on signing the contract with the rest of the funding profiled in response to your income business model. In order to release any payments after your initial sum you will need to evidence that all the other income has been paid or is being earned, and complete an evaluation, including details of the outcomes and impact you have achieved for children and young people, as well as the learning for the organisation or partnership.

Get in touch with our Bridge team

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