To celebrate The National Lottery’s 25 birthday, Arts Council England (ACE) are calling on arts organisations which have received National Lottery funding, to participate in a #ThanksToYou week that will run from 23 November to 1 December.
National Lottery #ThanksToYou promotional video
For the last 25 years lottery funding has made up a large proportion of the Arts Council England’s budget, with the current 2018-2022 settlement broken down into three streams:
- £407 million per year in 828 arts organisations, museums and libraries through the National Portfolio. This includes £336 million of grant-in-aid and £71 million of National Lottery funding.
- £97.3 million of National Lottery funding per year in Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants, which is an open-access funding programme.
- £72.2 million per year in Arts Council Development Funds which focuses on diversity, resilience, innovation in business models, leadership development and creating more pathways for a wider range of people to become part of the arts and culture sector.
From its founding by the post war Labour Government in 1946, to the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, the Arts Council’s funding came directly from government support. However after a decade of funding stagnation under Thatcher in the 1980s, and an ideological dislike of funding cultural spending from direct taxation, John Major’s Conservative government launched the National Lottery in 1994 with the aim of using the profits to suplement government funding for the arts, sports, charities, national heritage and millennium celebrations. In the year ending 31 March 2019 this was divided between: health, education, environment and charitable causes – 40%, sport – 20%, arts – 20%, heritage – 20%.
Since its launch in November 1994, the National Lottery has raised over £40 billion for good causes. The funds have been distributed across sports (including Olympic athletes and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games), arts and heritage, community initiatives, health, education, and the environment. The staggering amount raised isn’t surprising as Lotto sales hit £7.21 billion behind strong retail and digital growth. Meanwhile, the EuroMillions dedicates 28% of its revenues to what the National Lottery calls ‘Good Causes.’ And with Lottoland noting that the EuroMillions draw occurs twice a week across 13 European countries, the funding going into these causes is likely to grow exponentially in the not too distant future, benefiting countless arts institutions, organisations, and individuals across the region.
Now, while this all seems well and good, it isn’t exempt from criticism. Claims that the National Lottery represents a regressive ‘stealth tax’ have been levelled at it since the 1990s. While last year The Guardian reported that a cross-party committee of MPs had called for changes to how the lottery was run, after incomes for good causes dropped by 15% in a year. The report also found that while money for charitable causes raised by the lottery had climbed by 2% between 2009-10 and 2016-17, over the same period Camelot’s profits increased by 122%, from £39m to £71m.
According to the Gambling Commission the precise breakdown of where the money currently goes depends on the actual level of sales, the types of game being sold and the period of the licence that has been reached. The average breakdown for every £1 of ticket sales in 2017/18 was:
- 55p paid to winners in prizes
- 24p given to good causes
- 12p to the government in lottery duty
- 4p paid to National Lottery retailers on tickets sold
- 5p retained by the operator to meet costs and returns to shareholders.
The total number of National Lottery grants awarded to good causes stands at over 535,000. There is a searchable database of every grant given out since the Lottery began on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) website.