Arts Council cash for groups behind giant foot buggy, drag shows for kids and anti-Rwanda campaigns

Embargoed 00:01 Wednesday 9th November 2022


With the row ongoing about Arts Council grant funding, TaxPayers’ Alliance analysis has identified cash still going to London-based organisations pushing wacky, woke and wasteful projects. 

The Arts Council National Portfolio, which will provide £446,264,485 per year for a total of around £1.34 billion in grants between 2023 to 2026, shows that 272 of the 990 organisations are new additions, with the remaining 718 receiving at least some funding in the previous five financial years. Almost 30 per cent of the organisations which will receive money were based in London, with London constituencies making up half of the top ten constituencies by organisation count.

Many of the organisations responsible for absurd projects are London-based. This includes the Bureau of Silly Ideas, an outdoor arts group which includes an electric vehicle designed to look like a foot amongst its projects, which will receive a total of £150,000

Other awards also include £330,000 for Music Action International which signed a letter to the Home Secretary criticising her immigration policy and has described the government’s Rwanda plan as “brutal.” 

Multiple organisations which are set to receive funding have put on, or are set to put on, drag queen events for children, including the Discovery Children’s Story Centre which is hosting a Drag Story Time for children aged 3-7 and will receive a total of £286,971.  

National Portfolio Organisations receive funding from the Arts Council through both Grant-in-Aid funds provided by taxpayers, and funds raised through the National Lottery. In 2021/22 £340 million came from the former and £73 million from the latter. The TaxPayers’ Alliance has called for the Arts Council to be defunded and the wasteful quango scrapped. 


Key findings:

  • The Arts Council has announced £446,264,485 per year in funding for 990 organisations within their National Portfolio, a list of organisations which get regular funding from the quango. This means a total spend of around £1,338,793,455.

  • The total number of organisations in the National Portfolio has increased from 828 to 990, an increase of almost 20 per cent. Of the 990 organisations, 272 had not received any funding from the Arts Council through the same scheme in the previous five financial years (since 2018/19).

  • 282 of the organisations are based in London, with the remaining 708 based outside London. This includes Headlong Theatre, Artichoke Trust, Discovery Children’s Story Centre, Tobacco Factory Theatre and the Bureau of Silly Ideas. London-based organisations will receive a third of the funding - an estimated £461 million over three years.

  • The most common constituencies where organisations were based was Bethnal Green and Bow (33), Manchester Central (31), Cities of London and Westminster (30), Birmingham, Ladywood (30), Holborn and St Pancras (29) and Hackney South and Shoreditch (20), Liverpool, Riverside (19), Leicester South (19), Leeds Central (19) and Bermondsey and Old Southwark (18).



Organisation Total funding, 2023-26 Reason for inclusion
Headlong Theatre £2,076,906 Artistic director has described Shakespeare’s Henry V, which she is currently directing, as “the pinnacle of… white supremacy and toxic masculinity”
Artichoke Trust £1,430,244 Recent projects include a billboard saying “Hey Straight White Men, Pass the Power”
Music Action International £330,000 Openly lobbying against the government’s immigration and asylum policies, describing the “Rwanda plan” as “brutal
Discovery Children’s Story Centre £286,791 Hosting a Drag Story Time for children aged 3-7
Tobacco Factory Theatre £184,374 Was going to host the controversial Family Sex Show until it was cancelled
Bureau of Silly Ideas £150,000 Includes an electric car designed to look like a foot in its projects

Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers around the country are fed up with seeing their hard-earned cash wasted on cultural claptrap.

“Despite calls for grants to be kept for organisations in the capital, the fact remains that precious funds have been pledged to many absurd indulgences or preaching projects. 

 “If they can’t get their act together, it’s time to bring the curtain down on the Arts Council.”


TPA spokespeople are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Media contact:

Elliot Keck
Investigations Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. Figures were obtained from the Arts Council 2023-26 Investment Programme Data
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