What We Do

The Arts Foundation is a registered charity that supports individual artists and creatives in the UK with unconditional financial fellowships through the Arts Foundation Futures Awards.

It was set up by an anonymous bequest, and since 1993 the Arts Foundation has awarded over £2 million to the most promising artists in the UK at a pivotal moment in their careers to enable them to concentrate on their creative development, experiment, and realise their artistic potential.

The annual Arts Foundation Futures Awards provides five transformative £10,000 fellowships, with all shortlisted artists receiving £1,000 towards the development of their artistic practice. Each year the awards focus on broad and innovative art forms across Craft, Dance, Design, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts.

The vital contribution of the Arts Foundation Futures Awards to the arts in the UK is demonstrated by its past Fellows, many of whom are regarded as contemporary pioneers and have gone on to become leaders in their respective art forms, including: Wayne McGregor (1994), Alice Oswald (1996), Sarah Kane (1998), Asif Kapadia (2001), Ali Smith (2001), Rufus Norris (2002), Carol Morley (2003), Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (2006), and more recently, Simon Fujiwara (2009), Sam Lee (2011), Alice Birch (2014), Hollie McNish (2015), Evan Ifekoya (2017), Holly Hendry (2019), Onyeka Igwe (2020), Klein (2020), and Bethany Williams (2020).


Playwright and Screenwriter Alice Birch receiving her award at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards (2014)

The impact of the Arts Foundation Fellowship was succinctly highlighted on the evening of our 25th Anniversary by past Fellow and Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris: 

‘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.’