Arcadia Fund

Arcadia Fund
Formation2001; 23 years ago (2001)[1]
PurposePreserve Endangered Cultural Heritage and Ecosystems, Promoting Open Access
HeadquartersLondon, England, UK
Area served
7 Members
Key people
Professor Peter Baldwin(Trustee)
Lisbet Rausing (Trustee)
Dr Johannes Burger (Trustee)

The Arcadia Fund is a UK charity organization founded by Lisbet Rausing and Professor Peter Baldwin. Established in 2001, the organization provides grants on a worldwide basis focusing on numerous projects outside the UK. The primary focus of the organization is to preserve endangered culture and nature and to provide open access.[2] Its Mission statement outlines the organization's philosophical view to: "serve humanity (and) to preserve cultural heritage and ecosystems". The organization believes that "once memories, knowledge, skills, variety, and intricacy disappear – once the old complexities are lost – they are hard to replicate or replace" and consequently want to, "build a vibrant, resilient, green future".[3]

Since 2002, the fund has provided in excess of $910 million in projects around the world.[1] According to the OECD, Arcadia Fund’s financing for 2019 development increased by 6% to US$55 million.[4]

The foundation is controlled by its three trustees (Lisbet Rausing, Peter Baldwin and Johannes Burger) and its team of nine members. The fund also has an advisory board of seven members.[5]


.[1] Since its inception, the fund has averaged yearly grant awards of $35,625,000. Its grants are divided into five categories: Cultural, Environmental, Open Access, Discretionary and Discontinued Themes. As seen by the Table 41% of grant funding is cultural, 37% Environmental, 6% Open Access, 8% Discretionary and 7% Legacy.[6]

Its supported causes have been-as mentioned earlier-the preservation of endangered culture and nature and the provision of open access. The fund has a selected issues criterion in which the organization use's to choose grants. The methodology of grant choices has not changed since 2002. However, supported causes have altered slightly.


The organization aims to provide cultural grants to universities, archives or museums that preserve cultural heritage and digitize near-extinct cultural heritage. Additionally, it intends to supply environmental grants to organizations that preserve endangered habitats at risk land as well as trains staff and enable research and policy development. It also aims to provide open access grants to increase obtention of free material such online as research papers and publications.[2]

Previously, the fund also supported causes such as human rights, philanthropy and education; however since 2009 the support for the causes have been discontinued.[2] The fund supported organizations around these discontinued themes that helped refugee scholars, educated disadvantaged children in Africa, and conducted women's right advocacy.[7]


The fund awards grants to organisations preserving endangered culture, preserving nature, and promoting open access.[8]


Arcadia's largest grant was in 2002, to the School of Oriental and African Studies— totalling £20 million (US$33,851,813) to start the Endangered Language Documentation Program (ELDP). The program enables scholars to undertake documentation of disappearing languages. By 2015, the program has documented over 350 languages. The grant also funds training scholars in modern language documentation techniques. The fund donated another US$11 million in April 2015 .[9]

In 2004 the fund founded the Endangered Archives Program at the British Library with a $25 million grant supporting the digitisation of at risk collections around the world. By Sept 2018, the program has supported more than 350 documentation programs in 90 countries, with over 6.5 million images and 25,000 sound tracks being preserved. The material is available freely online as part of the Endangered Archives Programme.[10] In 2018 the fund gave an additional £9 million to fund the program for a further 7 years.[11]

In 2013 and 2015 provide $1 million to the Smithsonian Institution's collaboration with the Natural History Museum's "Recovering Voices Initiative," a long-term project to digitise audio recordings, manuscripts and photographs. It aims to digitise the entire collection of ethnographic sound recordings, estimated at 3,000 hours, and 35,000 pages of manuscript materials.[12] In 2015 it provided a $511,200 to the Smithsonian Campaign, 'The Field Book Project', to preserve field books, the original records of scientific expeditions.[13] The grant aimed to support the digitising of 2600 field books, all which will be open access.[14] Currently, the project has catalogued over 9,500 field books and digitised over 4,000.[13]


The fund in 2018 donated £23 million (US$31,441,100) to the Cambridge Conservative Initiative (CCI) for its Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP). Arcadia in collaboration with CCI and 9 other conservation organisations aim to restore priority landscape across Europe in an attempt to support viable populations of native species, provide room for natural ecological processes, resilience of ecosystems to short or long term changes.[15]

The fund in 2018 awarded Fauna & Flora International $USD 27,000,000 for Halcyon Land & Sea Fund. The partnership started in 1998 where Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing developed the idea in conjunction with FFI to develop the Halcyon Fund in which secures highly threatened sites to protect them under local management. As of 2018, the Fund has supported 46 projects in 25 countries, protecting 55.8 million hectares of habitat.[16] Since 2011, Arcadia has provided support in which has supported 34 initiatives across 18 countries.[17] Currently, Arcadia's total funding to FFI is $USD 51,550,000 million.[6] In 2015, Arcadia ordered an independent expert review of the work it had funded through FFI. The results provided positive conclusions where it was stated that, "The report clearly recognises the invaluable role that Arcadia has played in helping FFI evolve into the organisation it is today, by providing long-term and flexible funding for a considerable and effective body of work.".[17] Arcadia's impact on FFI can be seen through their first grant in 2011 developing the Halcyon Marine Programme. The programme operates across 72 sites in 17 countries engaging 88 partners and 35 community-based institutions and has already resulted in threat reduction of biodiversity recovery at 10 sites.[18]

Open access[edit]

Arcadia has provided multiple grants to Harvard University to improve open access at the university. In 2009 it awarded $5 million over a 5-year period.[19] The grant will support the processing of 17th and 18th century collections in archives and underwrite conservation treatments to fragile or damaged 17th or 18th century collections. It will also help to catalogue and digitise documents on Harvard's history, and to run the Library Lab programme to improve digital services .[6] The fund provided further support to the university in 2011 with an additional $11 million grant.[6]

In September 2015, the fund provided $450,000 over three years to Creative Commons to develop tools that complement current CC licence suite.[20]

In September 2017, Arcadia donated $5 million to the Wikimedia Foundation, the largest contribution to the foundation at the time.[21] It gave another $3.5 million in 2019[22]


The Arcadia Fund in 2015 provided $25 million to Yale University to renovate the Yale Hall of Graduates Studies enabling the university to co-locate the dispersed humanities departments to under one roof. offering a setting for cross-disciplinary collaboration and advance research.[23] Baldwin and Rausing have asked in tribute to the service of David Swensen (who built Yale's endowment from $1.3 billion to $23.9 billion) that the building should be named after him.[24]

Arcadia gave £5 million to the Illuminated River Foundation in 2017[25] for a commissioned art installation of light to 15 of Central London's bridges along the River Thames. When the project is completed it would be the longest art commission in the world at 2.5 miles long.[26][27]

Discontinued themes[edit]

Arcadia before 2009 were involved in supporting human rights. It supported organisations that helped refugee scholars, educate disadvantaged children in Africa, and conduct women's rights advocacy. In 2005, Arcadia provided a $5 million grant to the Mvule Trust, to provide bursaries to young women in Uganda so they can go to secondary school. The grant and trust gave 75% of scholarships to girls and by 2007 and the trust had supported the education of 1,868 children.[7]

Arcadia has provided a total of $6 million in 2005–06 to the Human Rights Watch (US) to help their empirical research into persecution of women, and its fact gathering, press releases, advocacy and lobbying.[6][7]

Grant statistics and graphs[edit]

Arcadia's Largest Grants ($USD)
Recipient Title of Grant Date of Grant (D/M/Y) Value ($USD) Type Of Grant Description of Grant
School of Oriental and African Studies Endangered Languages Documentation Programme 25/07/2002 33,851,813 Cultural The Academic Programme to train linguists documenting endangered languages.
University of Cambridge Cambridge Conservation Initiative:  Endangered Landscapes Programme 30/01/2018 31,441,100 Environmental To develop and support large-scale projects seeking to create habitats that are rich in biodiversity and resilient to environmental change.
Fauna & Flora International Halcyon Programmes and core institutional support 01/10/2017 27,000,000 Environmental To expand the success of both the Halcyon Land & Sea Fund and the Halcyon Marine Programme to date, increasing focus on long-term sustainability.
Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage 01/06/2011 25,000,000 Cultural To build a new cultural conservation and digitisation centre.
Yale University The Hall of Graduate Studies 01/07/2017 25,000,000 Discretionary To refurbish the Hall of Graduate Studies and to support the programmatic agenda that will transform it into a central home for the humanities at Yale
British Library Endangered Archives Programme 27/01/2004 16,960,153 Cultural To establish a grants programme that funds projects that digitise neglected, vulnerable or inaccessible archives relating to pre-industrial societies.
School of Oriental and African Studies Endangered Languages Documentation Programme 01/12/2016 11,000,000 Cultural To continue to support the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme.
Harvard University College Fellows Fund 01/06/2011 10,000,000 Cultural To support Harvard College Fellows Program.
University of California Los Angeles Endowment to Department of History 28/06/2012 10,000,000 Cultural To establish the Endowed History Department Chair and History Department Chair Quasi-Endowment Fund.
University of Cambridge Cambridge Conservation Initiative: Endowment of Directorship 03/07/2017 10,000,000 Environmental To establish an endowment fund for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Directorship.
Harvard University Supporting Open Access with Harvard Library 30/11/2011 9,000,000 Open Access To improve acquisition policies and access to the library's collections.

The Table Breakdowns Arcadia largest grants and a description of the purpose of the grant[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Arcadia - preserve endangered culture and nature". Arcadia Fund. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  2. ^ a b c foundationguide. "Arcadia Fund". Foundation Guide. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  3. ^ "About us - preserving endangered culture and nature and promoting open access". Arcadia Fund. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  4. ^ "Arcadia Fund | Development Co-operation Profiles – Arcadia Fund | OECD iLibrary".
  5. ^ "People - The Arcadia team". Arcadia Fund. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Data Registry | 360Giving". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  7. ^ a b c "Arcadia Annual Review 2008" (PDF). Arcadia Annual Review 2008. 30 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Grants - dynamic, sustainable and well researched programmes". Arcadia Fund. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  9. ^ "SOAS' Endangered Languages Documentation Programme receives a further $11 million from Arcadia | SOAS University of London". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  10. ^ "Endangered Archives Programme". Endangered Archives Programme. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  11. ^ "New grant to the Endangered Archives Programme". Arcadia Fund. 2018-09-25. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  12. ^ "Arcadia Fund Gift Furthers Global Access to Endangered Languages". Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  13. ^ a b KapsalisE (2017-01-27). "Field Book Project". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  14. ^ "The Arcadia Fund Awards Grant to Support The Field Book Project – Biodiversity Heritage Library". Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  15. ^ "Restoring Europe's endangered landscapes for life". University of Cambridge. 2018-10-09. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  16. ^ "Major grant from Arcadia will help FFI manage vital areas for conservation | Fauna & Flora International". Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  17. ^ a b "Tracking wolves and tracking progress | Fauna & Flora International". Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  18. ^ "Fauna & Flora International". Arcadia Fund. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
  19. ^ "Harvard University Library awarded $5M grant from Arcadia Fund". Harvard Gazette. 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  20. ^ "Creative Commons awarded $450,000 from the Arcadia Fund to support open access publishing for authors". Creative Commons. 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  21. ^ "Matching gift grows Wikimedia Endowment by $10 million – Wikimedia Blog". Retrieved 2019-05-04.
  22. ^ "Peter Baldwin, Lisbet Rausing give an additional $3.5 million to the Wikimedia Endowment". Wikimedia Foundation. 2019-04-24. Retrieved 2019-05-04.
  23. ^ "Gift to transform Hall of Graduate Studies honors David Swensen". YaleNews. 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  24. ^ Comtois, James (2015-04-06). "Yale to name building after Swensen". Pensions & Investments. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  25. ^ "Multi-million pound donation gives Illuminated River project the green light for next year". Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  26. ^ "The Illuminated River Foundation". Arcadia Fund. 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  27. ^ "Illuminated River". The Developer. Retrieved 2019-05-31.