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Schools can bid for lottery cash

Schools, particularly those keen to open up their facilities to the community in disadvantaged areas, are among those who can apply to benefit from the national lottery.

Of the five boards distributing money, the Arts Council and the Sports Council are seeking educational beneficiaries, and schools with charitable or religious foundations are eligible for grants from the charities board.

The problem for schools is that the emphasis is on grants for capital and there is no money for contingent revenue costs.

The charities board is the only board that will provide non-capital grants and it is the only one that is not insisting that an organisation has to have partnership funding.

In order to get money quickly to organisations, the charities board is setting up a small grants committee that will look at applications for sums in the range of Pounds 200 to Pounds 2,000.

Each distributive body will have at least Pounds 125 million to give away in a year, but the choice of recipients is bound to be something of a lottery in itself. Tony Ploszajski, the Arts Council's lottery administrator, expects around 3,500 winners to be picked from an estimated 15,000 applicants.

Any project which can possibly be defined as a sport or art will be considered. Application forms are printed and applicants should return them by January 4 for the first awards in March.

The grants bodies will not fund projects that could reasonably be the responsibility of local authorities or central government. They have to be extra-curricular - all-weather pitches or performance areas. The Sports Council wants to see formal community use agreements and the Arts Council wants to be confident there is access to a wider community than the school.

The Arts Council is insisting that 10 per cent of the funding must come from non-lottery sources and the Sports Council wants a minimum of 35 per cent. The minimum hand-out from arts and sports is Pounds 5,000.

The politics of the lottery may work in schools' favour. A crucial objection to the whole undertaking is that it amounts to a regressive tax where the poor, who will spend a greater proportion of income on tickets, will subsidise the pleasures of the rich. Awards to education might deflect charges of elitism.

The prospect of a share of the Pounds 300 million cake looks quite a bonanza. However, it is insignificant when compared with the overall spending of Pounds 750 million on arts and libraries, Pounds 1.4 billion on sport and Pounds 27 billion on education.

For advice and application packs phone the Sports Council on 0345 649649 or the Arts Council on 071-312 0123.

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