Since I wrote the previous post, the results of the bidding process  into the ACE/Nesta/AHRC fund have been announced.

There were 495 applications – and only 8 successful bids.

Am I alone in feeling frustrated about this? I can’t help but mourn the enormous amount of time that went into making 487 unsuccessful applications, many probably from organisations where time and capacity is already a stretched resource.

But given the guidance was really very clear – at least on the roadshow I attended – that only a tiny number of applications would be successful, I also wonder why so many organisations decided to apply.

Was it the triumph of hope over experience? Enthusiasm for a pet digital project and a determination to apply whatever the chances? The judgement that, successful or otherwise,  taking the time to define an innovative digital project would feed into future strategy and was therefore worth doing? Or maybe a view that when an opportunity comes along, it must be seized?

I really don’t know. But I do wonder if there weren’t enough places on the roadshow, and if other guidance was less clear about what was being asked for, offered, and the probability of success? Perhaps there was confusion between this small and limited-in-scope fund, and the soon-to-be-announced ACE £20m programme for digital capacity building in the arts?

Whatever factors went into it, I can’t help feeling that there is dysfunctionality in a process which leads to such massive over-subscription and so much  unrewarded effort.

I’d like to hear what you think about this. What are your views? Did you apply?   If you have time to write a comment or two, I’d like to read them.


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