Global economic crises and depleting government budgets are causing funding cuts across research areas and disciplines (1, 4, 6, 8 ). Public as well as private funding of Arts & Humanities (A&H) research and activities is a concern and often a matter of debate, especially in times when capital is expected to be invested in life-saving research (7). This article explores some global trends in funding of A&H over time. There are a few studies that provide overviews of funding trends in A&H (10, 2). However, most of these studies are localized and cover specific countries and do not depict these trends on a global basis. The main purposes of this paper are therefore:

  1. To sketch the general trends of funded A&H awards by:
  • Allocated capital: i.e. how much money is dedicated to A&H funding over time
  • Geographical distribution and monetary attributions: i.e. how much funding is allocated to A&H and in which countries
  • Type of funding: i.e. what are the comparative contributions of private and government funding for example

2. To sketch the trends of types of granted A&H awards by the types of projects and/or research being funded

The data analyzed in this paper was retrieved from SciVal Funding™ (“the database”), an Elsevier database that covers awarded and open funding opportunities across disciplines. The database captures its data directly from the grants and funding bodies’ websites and covers organizations that fund scientific research in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Commission, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, India, South Africa, and New Zealand. At the time this research was performed, the database included 4,500 research funding organizations including private and public funding institutions.

However, since this paper aims to cover international trends in A&H research, one has to note that SciVal funding mostly covers English-language grants and opportunities. In this respect, grants derived from the European Commission for example, are mostly written in English and scarcely include local languages. There are also many non-English language grants that are not covered by the database; hence this analysis focuses mostly on English-language grants. It is acknowledged that A&H, unlike other areas of research, are sensitive to language, especially in the literary arts (9).

Data Collection

We collected all awarded grants information from 2004 to 2012 that was classified as “Arts & Humanities” in SciVal Funding, which resulted in approximately 370,000 records. Each of the records contained 13 unique fields (see Table 1):

Field Name Field Content
Award type A classification, created by SciVal funding, which describes the type of award. i.e. research, fellowship, project etc.
Award title The actual title of the award as retrieved from the funding body website
Amount The amount of money allocated for the award
Currency Which currency the award was granted in (note that there are times that one currency can be used in different countries )
Awardee Type A classification, created by SciVal Funding, which annotates whether the grant was given to an institution or a private person (i.e. fellowship)
Awardee country The country of the receiving institution or person
Awardee name The name of the receiving person
Sponsor country The origin country of the funding body
Sponsor name The name of the funding body
Sponsor type Type of funding body i.e. government, private, corporate etc
Start date The date the project / research starts
Institution The name of the receiving institution
Abstract A summary of the awarded research or project

Table 1: Database Fields


Geographical distribution of A&H Awards

The geographical analysis of the awarded grants was performed based on the country sponsoring the award. In the database, this field represents the origin of the grant. Since the awarded grants covered in the database are mostly English-language ones, it is not surprising that most awards are by Anglophone countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland. Since the database aggregates open web sources, the breakdown of individual European countries was sometimes not available to us. An analysis of the overall number of awarded grants by countries covered in the database shows that some non-English speaking countries are well represented in the data such as Taiwan, India, Hong Kong and others.

International trends of funded A&H awards: Allocated Capital

This section describes the overall money amounts of awarded grants in A&H. The data that we have analyzed has different currencies per each country covered. In order to get a sense of the total monetary expenditure, we converted all currencies into US dollars using January 2013 rates. These amounts represent the total expenditure of public and private funding of A&H across all types of grants and countries. The analysis shows that there has been a constant decline in the monetary expenditure dedicated to A&H activities since 2009 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Total monetary expenditure of granted awards in A&H, 2004-2012

There has been an evident decline in A&H funding from 2009 to 2012. Reports on A&H funding in North America have also pointed to the same trend, showing decline in funding for A&H activities (3). There was a sharp decline between 2010 and 2011 with funds cut in almost half each year.

Sponsors and their expenditure

The sponsor types in the database pertain to the type of institutions that provide funding to A&H activities. These include:

  • State/ Provincial Government
  • Federal/ National Government
  • Private
  • Foundation
  • International
  • Corporate
  • Professional Associations and Societies

Figure 2 shows that both state and government funding are still the major sources for A&H grants and awards. Interestingly, the number of state funds is larger than the federal ones. These are followed by private funds and awards given by foundations.

Figure 2: Types of sponsors and the number of awarded grants

An analysis of the monetary expenditure per sponsor (see Figure 3) reveals that federal sponsored awards offer more awards worth at least a million, followed by foundations and state/ provincial government. Private, international and academic funding at this level is scarce. Professional associations and cooperations do not offer awards at this level of funding but do offer them mostly in the under $50,000 range.

Figure 3: Amount of capital expenditure per sponsor type

Sponsors and types of awards

An analysis of the types of awards each sponsor supports (see Figure 4) shows that projects are mainly funded by state government, private funding and federal/ national government. Research is mostly funded by federal government and foundations awards, while community awards are typically funded by state government. Fellowships are funded by private, foundation, and academic awards. Cooperation funds are mostly given to community, research and conferences while academic funds are not surprisingly focused on research, fellowships and conferences. There are several awards types indexed in the database (see Table 2).

Community Projects and programs aimed at communities and including for example local art workshops, and special performing arts events such as folk festivals and song and dance festivals at local towns or states
Project Generally one-time projects aimed at specific goals (i.e. building improvement, exhibitions)
Research Grants An amount paid to cover any funding for scientific research
Fellowship An amount paid to an individual for the purpose of research
Conference / Travel Grants A grant paid for the purpose of travel to a conference or to cover conference costs
Training An award to support costs of furthering the education of personnel, often students
Career Development An award to defray costs associated with the development of an individual’s career
Equipment An award to be used exclusively for the purchase of equipment related to a research
Prize Monetary Recognition based on competition or other criteria

Table 2: Overview of awards types indexed in the database

Figure 4: Types of awards and their contributing sponsors

Figure 5: Types of awards granted, their frequencies of occurrence and respective monetary value

Figure 5 shows that the types of awards that receive the most funding are those related to projects, followed by research and community. The proportion between the number of awards and their monetary value can also be seen in Figure 5. Projects, research and community awards account for most of the capital spent on A&H awards. There’s a striking gap between these awards and awards given to cover fellowships, conferences, training and equipment for example.

Types of awards and awardee types

In SciVal Funding there are several awardee types, including (1) Institution, (2) Principal Investigator who heads the research, project or program and (3) Co-principal Investigator. The occurrence of co-principal investigator is very rare and most of the awards are assigned to either an Institution or Principal investigator. We found 200,352 grants that were given to an Institution and 163,502 grants to Investigators, including Principal and Co-principal. An analysis of the types of award per awardee type shows that when a principal investigator is assigned to an award it is mostly for research purposes. Following that, principal investigators are heading community work or are the recipients of fellowships (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Types of awards granted to institutes and investigators and their frequencies of occurrence

When an institution is the recepient of an award, it is mainly for either community or project related activities. Research is far less common as an award type granted to institutions (see Figure 6).


The funds allocated for A&H activities are declining, showing sharp decreases from 2009 to 2012. The global economic crisis which culminated in 2009 might be a major contributor to this decline. State and federal bodies are still the major funding bodies of A&H. The federal government is the main source of funding awards that are worth a million or more, followed by foundations and state /provincial government.

Most of the A&H awarded grants are those related to projects that depict specific programs, research and community programs. Projects are mainly sponsored by state government, private funding and federal/national government, while community related awards are typically sponsored by state government. Fellowships are funded by private, foundation and academic awards and academic funds are allocated to research, fellowships, and conferences.

Research-related grants are mostly received by principal investigators rather than institutions. Institutions receive A&H grants mostly for community and specific projects.

From the analysis above there seems to be a lack of funding for equipment, which is probably needed in the arts and for prizes. More grants are available for research, fellowships and community work for investigators. Awards such as training are available through institutional grants, where there seems to be more room for career-related funding.


The authors are grateful to Brie Betz, former project manager of SciVal Funding at Elsevier, for her support and Mehul Pandya, Prakash Devaraj and Hariharan Yuvaraj, from the SciVal Funding product team, for providing the data needed for this study.


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