Arts Council England Update: May 2012

Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Mary_GodwinBy Mary Godwin,Relationship Manager Museums, Arts Council England

Here is a general update summary which I hope is of interest. If you have any queries or concerns that you think I may be able to help with, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Tel: 01392 229277 Mob: 07712 854914.

Museum Development Funding

We continue to work steadily through the process of distributing grants to the museum sector through the various Renaissance funding strands. The most recent major funding award in the South West has been for Museum Development. The full announcement giving details of the museum development funding awarded across the country can be found here.

Museum Development funding will continue to be spent largely on the network of Museum Development Officers that operate across the country, providing a great local advice and support service. It will also be used to provide training opportunities to respond to the needs of museums and to support local museum networks. The nine organisations and partnerships that have successfully bid to run Museum Development, and the total amounts they will receive to deliver the service from August this year until March 2014 are:

  • Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery & Archives; Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery; Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery; South West Federation of Museums & Galleries – £1,192,000
  • Herefordshire Heritage Services; The Marches Network – £832,000
  • Leicestershire County Council – £719,887
  • Manchester Partnership (with Cumbria Museums Consortium) – £880,000
  • Museum of London – £650,190
  • Norfolk Museum & Archaeology Service – £1,141,000
  • Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove; HCC Arts & Museums; Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust; Oxfordshire County Museums Service – £1,400,000
  • Tyne & Wear Archive & Museums – £416,000
  • York Museums Trust – £840,000

In the South West we are fortunate that over the next few years our museum development service will be delivered by a partnership of museums and organisations that have already been doing this work successfully over many years and which combines the ‘clout’ and backroom resources of some major museums – Bristol City Museums, RAMM Exeter and Plymouth City Museum – with the grass-roots connections of the South West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries. I’m very much looking forward to working with the South West Museum Development Partnership to ensure we offer great support for museums across the region.

Renaissance Strategic Funds

The criteria and processes for distributing the third major round of Renaissance funding are currently being developed. This has a working title of ‘Strategic Support’ and although I still can’t provide any detail, we do know that this funding programme will be for time-limited, high- impact strategic projects which will make a big difference to the museum sector. Partnerships and a ‘joined-up’ approach will be encouraged and museums that have received Major Grants won’t be able to apply. As soon as more details of this funding stream emerge I’ll ensure they are communicated widely.

National Programmes

The final part of the Arts Council’s reworked Renaissance programme is the continuation and development of various national programmes, including Accreditation. For national statistics on the Accreditation scheme which might be of interest, click here.

Other national programmes are Designation, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the PRISM fund, support for national campaigns such as Kids in Museums and Museums at Night, and Subject Specialist Networks.

(See here for SS Great Britain’s Museums at Night jelly story!).


The Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM) fund was established in 1973 to further the preservation of items or collections which are important in the history and development of science, technology, industry, and related fields. The fund awards grants towards the costs of acquisition and conservation of such items. Applications can be submitted at any time of the year, and will be assessed subject to budgetary constraints. We aim to give a decision within two months of receiving an application. See the website for more infformation.

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund

Managed by the V&A using funds of £750,000 for 2012/13 provided by Arts Council England. The Fund supports the purchase of a wide range material for the permanent collections of non-nationally funded organisations in England and Wales. Recent grants include a collection of memorabilia relating to Donald Campbell’s waterspeed record attempts at Coniston (Ruskin Museum, Coniston), a chair commissioned from Frank Baier (Crafts Study Centre, Farnham), a collection of Dundas family papers (North Yorkshire County Record Office) and an early medieval sword pommel cap from Marston Maisey (Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes). Demand is always very strong and funds are allocated to enable as many acquisitions as possible to be made. Each year the Fund considers about 250 applications and enables acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead.

For more info visit their website.

Heritage Lottery Fund

I recently met with the South West HLF team to talk about projects and priorities across the region. They are keen to encourage applications, including small ones, so don’t hesitate to have a word with them if you have a project idea. The centenary of the First World War is on the horizon and there is specific info. about funding for this on their website.

  • For info on all their grant schemes click here.
  • For WWI projects click here.

If you want to receive a regular update email newsletter from HLF sign up at this link.

Museums and Arts Funding

Museums are also eligible for funding for arts-based activity through other Arts Council grant programmes, including the relatively easy to apply for Grants for the Arts, which operates on an ongoing basis throughout the year – it’s the arts equivalent of HLF ‘Your Heritage’ i.e. it’s lottery funded. Relatively few museums in the South West have been awarded funding from grants for the Arts and although it’s very competitive, I’m keen to encourage you to consider applying. If you have an idea we can offer pre-application advice, so please do get in touch. Lottery regulations stipulate that Lottery funds distributed by the Arts Council must be invested in arts activities, so museums and libraries can only apply for work that is primarily arts-focused. You can find out more information about all the different Funding programmes on the Arts Council’s website.

Arts Award

Museums are also encouraged to take a look at, and hopefully get involved with, Arts Award, the Arts Council’s national programme for developing young people – a kind of arts equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme which is operated by some schools and other organisations. You can find out more at

Working with Children and Young People A new publication, Engaging Children and Young People in Arts and Culture, is a toolkit that has been produced for ACE aimed at arts organisations and people working with Children and Young People and is aimed at helping to develop and deliver successful arts and cultural activities. Copies have been sent to ACE National Portfolio organisations (NPOs) and arts/arts education teams within each local authority. It will have relevance to museums too. If you do look at it and have any comments on its usefulness I’d be pleased to get your feedback. The publication is available online to download as a PDF at (n.b. it’s a large file of about 10mb).

Other Useful Info.

At the recent Devon Museums Group Annual Forum at Torquay Museum there were some very interesting presentations, including one from Sam Hunt of AIM, who talked about their grant schemes. For more info. on AIM funding visit here.

We also heard from an organisation called Community Matters. They provide lots of resources and information for small community organisations, including quite a lot that’s relevant to museums. They also have a tool (you have to buy this) for evaluating your social impact which might be very useful for museums who need to communicate their value to funders such as local authorities at this time of cuts. Their website is here.

Other websites that may be useful include:

And finally. . . . .

Congratulations to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter for reaching the final four museums of this year’s prestigious (and lucrative!) Art Fund Prize competition. It really is a great museum and highly deserving of an award so fingers crossed for a South West winner!!