Open data in arts and sport grant making – open data hiding in plain sight

Sometimes open data on grant making just pops up unexpectedly.  I was giving evidence to the Warwick Commission on Cultural Value and spent some time poking around in the Arts Council England’s website looking for strategy and policy documents as well as any open data they may have.  ACE has a good research capability but I couldn’t find on their own site any raw data of where their grant money goes. I had a quick look on data.gov.uk and found there ACE’s grants going back to 2003-2004 – as many as 20,000 grants (2,500 in 2012-13).   Similarly in November last year I was looking for Sport England’s grants as open data and couldn’t find it on their site, so i put in an FOI request which revealed a page that had escaped me with over 7,000 grants going back to 2009.

As a sanity check in case I am bad at Google I asked a few other people in the open data space and another lottery distributor: they weren’t aware of this either.  It’s a shame I hadn’t turned up the sport stuff before as it could have informed a handy piece of work Ian Hopkinson did for Scraper Wiki looking at how BIG spend lottery money on sport.

Neither the ACE nor sport England data sets are close enough to open data – they provide scant information about the grantee – neither their company number nor their location.  The location is only reported at the highly abstract constituency and local authority level, which reduces its usefulness.  Given that the vast majority of their grants are to corporate bodies, not individuals this seems odd – why not just publish their address?

I am putting feelers out to other Lottery distributers to see where their open data on grant making is.

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