Marjan van Aubel (Materials Innovation, 2014)Well Proven Chair

What We Do

The Arts Foundation was set up by anonymous bequest in order to support UK-based artists from across the spectrum of the Arts. The annual Arts Foundation Futures Awards (AFFAs) gives out five £10,000 fellowships every year. These are awarded on the basis of past work and enable future development.

The contribution of the Arts Foundation awards to the arts in the UK is demonstrated by many of our fellows. To name just a few: Wayne McGregor (Choreographer, 1994); Sarah Kane (Playwriting, 1998); Ali Smith (Writer, 2001); Asif Kapadia (Film Directing, 2001); Rufus Norris (Theatre, 2002); Carol Morley (Film, 2003); Brothers Quay (Animation, 2004). For some, the award has given them the support and encouragement to pursue their practice full-time such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

Playwright Alice Birch receiving her award at the 2014 Arts Foundation Awards

The Foundation is run by a board of trustees, who offer expertise across the arts. The trustees select five art forms as categories every year across the broad fields of Craft and Design, Film, Literature, Music, New Media, Performing and Visual Arts.

Changing categories allows us to keep highlighting innovative practices in both new and traditional art forms and shining a spotlight on practices that might be less well served by other awards at the time, such Children’s Theatre (2016), Short Story Writing (2001) and Choral Conducting (2015).

To identify the most talented and deserving artists resident in the UK, the Arts Foundation select professionals close to the art forms to feed into the process of nomination and judging. The winner gets £10,000, the other three shortlisted each receive £1,000.

As fellow and Artistic Director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris so succinctly explained at the 25th Anniversary Awards;

‘It certainly had the most profound effect on my career because it did exactly what it was meant to do. In that it brought me time, time to follow my own initiative, my own instinct rather than trying to persuade anyone else that I could follow theirs. In that year I laid the foundation, of my own art for projects which took me, rung by rung, towards what has for some years been a very compelling and fortunate way to spend a working life. So, I for one am eternally grateful.’