#22 SolSyn

Form a solidarity syndicate!

Refuse competition!

It’s all of us or none of us!

Under the terms of the new Arts Council England Emergency Funding many artists will not be able to apply and many small arts organisations will go under.

ACE has always been an nontransparent lottery, we think it’s time to form a syndicate and play together. Only a small percentage of us will get the new Emergency Funding. The odds are worse than buying a scratch card, but a lot more work.

We query that this is really an emergency fund for ‘people and organisations’ – it’s business as usual. The £20 million Emergency Response Package actually cuts £1o.4 million from the “normal” spend on grants to individual creatives. 

Read our quick maths here

If we join together and publicly agree not to compete, we might at least be able to start a discussion about solidarity economies in the arts.

Solidarity Syndicate (SOL SYN) is a way to make a visible stand of unity between creative workers and to make it clear that vital creative activity happens outside of the NPOs (who are mostly art™️-safe-white people).

We’re a small group of cultural workers who have come together with the support of Keep It Complex to attempt to push back just a little bit on the powers that be. Yes, there are more important things right now than the arts, but we don’t want this to be the year we all stop making art

For Step by Step suggestions and FAQ please scroll down.

Here’s our quick  Step by Step for how solidarity syndicates could work, adapt it to your context!

Cultural workers and small organisations who are eligible for the ACE Emergency Fund:

Step 1 – Find other people/organisations that are eligible and able to apply. We think 5 would be a good number.

To prove eligibility for the Emergency Fund you will need to state the work you have lost due to the crisis and your track record of being supported by public funds such as ACE, National Lottery, local authorities, universities, public sector bodies, trusts and foundations. You may not have applied directly for public funding – it could be that you were employed to deliver a programme, project or a commission, which someone else paid you for by obtaining public funds. Look back on projects you have been a part of and see how they have been funded.

Step 2 – Find the same number of people or organisations who are not eligible or able to apply. We encourage you to look beyond your familiar networks.

Step 3 – Introduce everyone in your group over WhatsApp or Telegram. Set your terms & conditions. Give each other cute quarantine names. You have now formed your solidarity syndicate!

Step 4 – Eligible artists make sure you have registered an applicant profile with ACE on Grantium. Round one opens for applications on 9 April. Round two opens for applications on 16 April

Step 5 – Applications are a headfuck at the best of times so in your group make sure to support those that are writing applications. Check their drafts, look at spelling, grammar, morale, stop them throwing their laptops out the window.

Step 6 – Submit your syndicate’s applications. Rejoice for momentary relief, congratulate your group, have a zoom party. 

Step 7 – Wait for the self-elected Art gods to decide. 

Step 8 – If anyone in your syndicate is successful, pool the money and split it evenly between all of you. If nobody is successful, at least you’ve made some new friends. 

Ways to find artists who are eligible:

Ways to find artists who are not eligible:

  • Connect with recent graduates / early career artists through call-outs or contacting development schemes.
  • People who got union emergency help.
  • Ask on social media.

Other things you can do in your syndicate…

Get involved with union activities:

United Voices of the World – Culture Workers

Artists Union England

Start a coop fund

Solid Fund

Share skills + tricks


Platform London’s Social Justice Waging System



Art Tech Emergency Fund

Take Back the Economy


Listen to each other, give space and time to each other.

Gossip, gossip, gossip.

Arts Council Application Sinkhole

For everyone that had an application in and got it terminated we are gathering your responses here until 30th April. We want to show how many hours were lost, how many people were out of work, and what ideas people did have if they had been given the chance!




Why are you encouraging creatives to apply together?
This “emergency fund” is a lottery. ACE have cut individual funding by £10.4 million, making competition fierce. Many creatives are ineligible by ACE’s criteria. We do not believe competition is the answer to a crisis, so we urge you to form syndicates.

How does a syndicate work?
Together with a group of friends and/or colleagues you make a group of eligible and ineligible creatives. After making individual applications, you pool successful funding and share it.

For example, in a group of 10 creatives, 5 of the eligible submit applications for £2500 each. If 4 applications are successful, you have £10 000 to share between 10: each person gets £1000.

Why would I share the money if I can have it all to myself?
ACE has made this a competitive fund; the chances of any individual getting it are pretty low, plus many creatives are ineligible. Syndicates increase your odds by ensuring you have some money to assist in this crisis.

We know not everyone is in a position to share their pot. If that’s your situation, you may still consider joining a solidarity syndicate to mutually support each member with their application.

How long do I have to apply?

There are two rounds:
1) Opens 09 April, deadline 16 April 12pm midday
2) Opens 16 April, deadline 30 April 12pm midday

Don’t forget ACE requires you register on Grantium first, by 13 April and 27 April respectively – more info here.

How do I make a Solidarity Syndicate?
1. Put a call out to friends, colleagues and contacts to make a group
2. Agree between yourselves how the money will be divided (is it an equal split or do you have the means to support members based on hardship?)
3. Apply individually through the ACE website (all the details are here)
4. When ACE announces results you can share the cash between yourselves

Can you put me in touch with other creatives to form a Solidarity Syndicate?
If you tag @keepitcomplex on instagram we will share posts and stories to connect you with others interested in joining a syndicate. We cannot broker or manage relationships for you.

How many people have to be in a Solidarity Syndicate?
As many as you like. We have suggested 5 eligible creatives and 5 ineligible creatives, but it does not matter. See who you can get together and make it work!
Do I complete my application as an individual or as part of a syndicate?
You apply as an individual. Do not mention the syndicate to ACE. Think of it as a lottery: each of you buys a ticket, whatever you win gets shared between you, but you don’t notify EuroMillions.

Can Keep it Complex help me write the application?
We cannot. Follow all the guidance ACE has given and use your syndicate! If there are ineligible members in your group who are not able to submit an application, they can help with yours.

How do I find out if I am eligible?
Look at the ACE guidelines here. Essentially, you have to be able to prove your work has been affected, and that you have previously been involved with publicly funded work.

I need to prove cancelled and curtailed work – how do I do that?
Our interpretation: think of work that has been cancelled, down-sized, postponed as well as the work that’s not coming in. You’ll need to quantify this in numbers. What was your working life like this time last year? Were you planning to apply for a now-cancelled fund? ACE may check for evidence, so bear this in mind. We don’t have all the answers so follow their guidance.

I need to prove I have been publicly funded in the past – how do I do that?
ACE guidelines state that you don’t have to have applied for the funding yourself – think of times your work was supported by: ACE, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, local authorities, universities, public sector bodies, trusts and foundations. More info here.

How long should I spend on the application?
We recommend you don’t spend hours on this application. Don’t let ACE waste your time with competition! Do your best in a short time and ask your syndicate for help with checking.
Try to enjoy the new solidarity network you’ve built!

I’m a non-NPO or small organisation, can I do this too?
Absolutely! Find other organisations like yourself and pool your resources, time, money and please think of how you can involve individual creatives in ways you never have before.

Who are you and why are you so sure of this response?
We’re a small group of cultural workers who have come together with the support of Keep It Complex in an attempt to push back against the use of competitive funding in a time of crisis.

Solidarity Syndicate is a template that we will use, and encourage others to use. If it doesn’t work for you – change it! Solidarity has many different forms and we encourage you to try all of them!