Strategic Events and Festivals (SEF) Fund - FAQs

Our grants for strategic events and festivals.

1. Can I apply for the Strategic Events and Festivals Fund? 

In order to be eligible to apply, you must demonstrate that your organisation:

  • is a not for profit distribution organisation;
  • is properly constituted;
  • has a bank account in the name of the organisation;
  • has provided evidence of affordability and, where appropriate, match funding;
  • is open and accessible to the community that it serves; and,
  • demonstrates it is an inclusive organisation that will involve local people.

We welcome applications for organisations that are holding a strategic event or festival in Argyll and Bute during the period 1st April 2024 to 31st March 2025. Applicants must demonstrate that the event or festival fits with the aims and objectives of the SEF fund and can evidence that it aligns with the assessment criteria identified below. 

You are eligible to apply if you can evidence against the Assessment Criteria below:

Assessment Criteria
Criteria Type Description
Strategic Fit
  • Evidence event objectives align to the Council’s Outcome Improvement Plan 2013-2023
  • Confirm clear event objectives and vision
  • Demonstrate that a significant percentage of attendees will be from outside Argyll and Bute
  • Demonstrate that your event will attract attendees or participants from outside Scotland
Economic Impact
  • Evidence expected visitor numbers
  • Evidence visitor numbers from previous years
  • Demonstrate the anticipated economic value of your event to the local economy
Cultural/Sporting Event Impact
  • Evidence opportunities for the Community to get involved in the event
  • Demonstrate that you have the appropriate PVG checks in place
  • Demonstrate the percentage of your event marketing that is targeted towards audiences outwith Scotland
  • Provide evidence of how many years your event has been running
  • Provide evidence of financial stability through provision of full audited accounts for the past 2 years 
  • Provide a budget breakdown for the event and evidence of match funding
  • Provide details on how you intend to manage risk 

2. Is my event classed as Strategic?

The fund aims to support events and festivals which are of strategic importance to Argyll and Bute. Therefore the application must be able to demonstrate the economic, cultural and social value of the event to Argyll and Bute as a whole. Applicants must highlight the event’s importance as an attraction for national/international audiences and not just the immediate local area.

Your event or festival must align with the objectives of Argyll and Bute Outcome Improvement Plan 2013 - 2023 | The Hub (, as well as The National Events Strategy and Culture and Heritage and Arts Action Plan, as well as the Argyll and Bute Economic Strategy 2019 – 2023 and the Economic Recovery Plan and if you are seeking to apply for funds above the expected upper limit of £5,000 then you will need to provide more detailed information.

3. How much funding can I apply for?

It should be noted that this is a competitive process with a finite budget. There is £115,064 of funding in total available. It is anticipated that the fund will be oversubscribed and therefore not all applications will be successful. Please refer to the application form for full guidance in relation to funding levels. Please take note that no grant will be offered over 20% of your overall event/festival budget and for events where the organisers can provide substantial evidence to demonstrate the need for large sums in support of their large scale exceptional event, grants will be capped at £30,000. A level of match funding is required for all applications.

4. Will there be a second round of applications?

All applications and supporting documentation must be received by Midday, Monday 20th November. Any submissions received beyond this will not be considered. There will only be a second round of funding if the budget isn’t fully allocated in this round, however this has not yet been decided or approved.

5. What period will the grant cover?

The grant will cover events taking place between the period of 1st April 2024 to 31st March 2025. Please note the event/festival must be held within this period and grant payments will not be rolled-over to subsequent years. 

6. Do I need to show evidence of Match Funding?

Yes, applicants must show that they have match funding to be able to apply for the fund, this must be evidenced in the Funding Profile table, detailing were funding is confirmed or in process.  Suitable sources of match funding include, commercial income, private income and other public sources such as, Event Scotland or Creative Scotland. We may ask you for evidence of these.

7. Can I use my own documents to support my application or do I need to use Argyll and Bute Council’s templates?

Applicants must complete all of the tables in the Application Form. You are, however, invited to use your own Business/Marketing plan and in this case ,you must ensure that these cover the main points highlighted within the templates provided and reference page numbers where required. 

8. What information and research do I need to provide about my intended visitors’ economic value and why?

As part of the application process we ask you to provide us with as much information as possible on your potential attendees and the value of your event to the local area based on information from previous years. In particular we are interested in the number of visitors from outwith the local area. It will be necessary to include an estimate of visitor numbers from outwith the area, i.e. from the rest of Scotland, the rest of the UK and Overseas. This gives a broader perspective of visitor origin attending the event and might be helpful to you in demonstrating the impact of the event in attracting visitors to the area.

If your event or festival is new then you must submit estimates, backed up by your own primary and secondary research.

9. What are ineligible costs under the SEF Fund?

The SEF Fund will not be able to support any costs associated with the sale of alcohol or any types of gambling activities, including prize money.  The fund cannot be used for working capital, staff costs or any items of food or drink as they apply to hospitality and catering. Funds will also not go to support the reserves of an organisation or reserves for the event.

10. Can I include in-kind contributions in my application?

In-kind contributions can include: Sponsorships and Donations in so far as they include the following:

  • Voluntary labour (time or services ‘donated’ should be additional and not part of the persons' normal job). Please note this must be confined to this event, and not any general and wider project.
  • Donated equipment to be used at this event.
  • Services donated from other companies or organisations in respect of the holding of this event.
  • Use of premises or office space for the running of this event and where this event is held.
  • Carer support, for example, people with disabilities.

In-kind contributions do not include:

  • The time or services of any employee whose post already exists and for whom the funded activity would be within the usual scope of their job.
  • Spending which forms part of the core costs of your organisation.
  • The value of discounts on equipment.

During the application assessment the funding panel will determine whether the in-kind funding submitted is eligible for consideration.

11. How do I seek the relevant permissions or licences to support my event?

Please note this grant application does not supersede the requirement to separately apply for licenses or permissions such as traffic orders, parking permits and landownership permits needed for your event. You MUST contact the Council separately to apply for your event and ensure you have all required permissions in place.  You can do this here and also find information on useful contacts and recommended reading. also provide useful information.

12. Is there a maximum number of times I can apply for SEF Funding?

In each calendar year an organisation can only apply once for a specific event however can apply for more than one event.  If you apply for funding in Round 6 you will be unable to apply again for the same event if there was a Round 6.2. 

13. Do I have to adhere to the Real Living Wage legislation if I apply to the SEF?

Yes.  Applicants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of Argyll and Bute Council that they are paying the Real Living Wage to all directly employed by them. It should be noted, however, that Argyll and Bute Council may (at its sole discretion) apply limited exceptions to provide funding to organisations who cannot pay the Real Living Wage in order that the measure remains proportionate.

14. Do I need to show evidence of sustainability for my event or festival?

Yes, applicants must show how they intend to plan for the growth and longevity of the event or festival.

15. Do I need a Net Zero strategy?

Yes, it is now a mandatory part of the application process for SEF funding that applicants demonstrate how they will, as far as possible, reduce the carbon footprint of their event.

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