Who applied to the Emerging Futures Fund?
In our previous blog post we introduced the Community Toolkit, which we created partly in response to the enormous demand we’d had for the Emerging Futures Fund programme.
You can find out about all of the 52 grantees for the Emerging Futures Fund here.
We wanted to share more about who had applied, and especially about those we weren’t able to fund but who’s stories, voices and ideas remain critically important.
The programme was heavily oversubscribed. We received an astonishing 1,156 applications with a combined worth of over £40 million “competing” for a modest £2.2m pot.
In October we made a public announcement of 52 grantees and shared the stories and ambitions for this forthcoming work.
We know it is equally important to share the stories of the hundreds of communities we had to turn down from the Emerging Futures Fund. These stories offer a glimpse into the creativity and energy in communities, alongside the often-difficult realities they continue to face.
What we learned from an analysis of the applications also gives insight into what types of support - financial and non-financial - communities may need to thrive going forward.
Who applied to the Emerging Futures Fund?
This is a high level analysis of the types of organisations and community activities -
- Approximately 65% of applications were about creative responses to the pandemic: local organisations pivoting to create and encourage the creation of stories, art, audio and video about the community experience of lockdown
- 40% of these were about creating some kind of archival record/time capsule/oral history
- And 25% of these were about therapeutically processing the pandemic experience
- Approximately 15% of applicants wanted funding to move existing offline, real-world activity to online spaces due to social distancing (eg dementia cafes, youth theatre groups, refugee support groups)
- Approximately 5% of applications were from small organisations looking to protect their ability to help clients and users in the future by temporarily pivoting and reinventing themselves (eg local libraries, theatre companies)
- Approximately 5% of applications were from geographical groups which sprung up as organic local responses to the lockdown, now seeking to formalise and extend their work as community organisations (eg local COVID mutual aid groups)
- Approximately 5% of applications were from existing art organisations and practitioners looking for ways to share stories/make art about the past, the challenging present and the hopeful future (eg community theatre groups)
- Approximately 5% of applications were organisations wanting to extend their own digital presence/offer to remain relevant (eg local community gathering spaces)
What did communities want the funding for?
From doing an analysis across the applications, we could group their activity into the following clusters. Communities wanted resource for -
- Stories and experiences (oral history, written submissions)
- Processing trauma
- Thinking about what’s next
- Physical transport links between communities
- Communities and networks
- Links across the world
- Better, different kinds of relationships with existing clients and users
Making and growing
- Art, music and theatre
- Wild spaces, or spaces to enjoy wildlife
- Physical and mental health
- Support groups
- Shared identity and community based on locality, race, interest or life stage
- Resilience, both personal and community
Nurturing and caring for
- Each other - particularly vulnerable groups
- Shared green spaces
- Mental health
- The environment - local and global
- Stories and lived experiences
- Experiences, virtual and otherwise
You can see many of these recurring themes on the Insights from Covid pages of our website.
Shortlisting from 1156 down to 52
To shortlist applications, we took a ‘portfolio view’ to ensure we selected a representative mix in terms of geography (local, regional, National), equity (BAMER, disabled, LGBTQ, and intersectional lived experience), and scale (hyper-local, local, and national).
Out of the 52 applications awarded 17 are BAMER led, 2 are Disabled Person led, 2 of are LGBTQ led and 3 are led by intersectional lived experience. 26 of these are organisations are ones which we have never funded before.
We prioritised projects that demonstrated access and reach to wider networks and communities across the UK, as well as projects that drew on the learned and rigorous practices of narrative work, social dreaming methodologies and public imagination approaches.
Most importantly we prioritised projects that were geared towards the future. We didn’t want the Emerging Futures Fund to only focus on listening and collating the experiences of communities through the pandemic, even though this is important in and of itself. We wanted the funding to provide real opportunity for communities to imagine and shape their preferred futures, laying the foundations to achieve them.
Supporting and staying connected to those we didn’t fund
To support communities across the UK, and especially those we weren’t able to fund we created the Community Toolkit; an open resource for communities to process, listen, narrate and collectively imagine and shape their preferred futures together.
We also did four Community Listening events to hear more from the group we weren’t able to fund, and to find out how else they might stay connected to the programme and how else we might support them. With permission we’ve been actively connecting groups and communities together and we are working with our regional teams to also link up existing grantees and initiatives with the Emerging Futures Fund work.
We remain committed to those not funded and how they continue being part of the Emerging Futures Fund community – the ambition after all, is to seed and grow a thriving and generative infrastructure for local communities across the UK to process, listen, sense-make and imagine. This is about building capacity over the long term, and with many communities. As someone said this week ““If you do anything deep enough you touch everything.” This is long, deep work.
Thank you to Meg Pickard who did an initial analysis of the 1156 applications.