Your application: three key considerations - Museums Association

Your application: three key considerations

Sarah Briggs
Collections Development Officer, Museums Association

The 21 December deadline for our Digital Innovation and Engagement funding stream is fast approaching. The fund is generously supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to provide a series of grants of up to £50k to scale up and evaluate the new ways of working that museums have developed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Given the year that museums have had, and with many museums still unable to open their doors to the public, it isn’t surprising that interest so far has been incredibly high.

It’s clear from some of the ideas we’re already seeing coming through to this fund that Covid-19, whilst catastrophic, has also been catalyst for change and innovation. It has led us to think about how we can help you to keep and extend the gains of your digital work in 2020.

We understand the time and effort that goes into funding applications and, especially with many staff still furloughed, that resources are at a premium. As such, Sarah Briggs, our collections development officer, would like to share a few things to consider before putting pen to paper to apply to this fund.

1. Who is the work for?

Firstly, ask yourself who the work is really for – a key criterion for this funding is that the work must seek to engage at least one underrepresented audience/community (as defined by the applicant).

If you are looking to do work with your existing audiences, or if you just need infrastructure, then this is probably not the right fund for you. It’s incredibly important that you can show some evidence of need or demand from an underserved audience.

You might want to produce a fantastic podcast about your collections for a community that doesn’t visit – but how do you know they want to listen to it? Be realistic about the demand for your outputs, and if you are able to show demand from a new or expanded audience, or have evidence of need that inspired the project, then please chat to us about your idea. 

2. How will this project help your organisation achieve its goals?

Secondly, think about how this standalone project will help your organisation achieve its goals, at least in part. Does it fit into long term strategies? It’s important to articulate how this work is a stepping stone on your overall journey. And how will you learn from what you do? We’d like to see strong evaluation to share what works.

3. How is the work innovative?

Finally, think about how your proposed work is innovative to your organisation. Is it a new approach, does it reach new audiences, or is it an entirely new way of working? Tell us what methodologies or experience you are building on.

Next steps

We’d recommend reading Mindsets for Museums of the Future, produced by The Liminal Space, another partner in this funding stream. The work will encourage museums to think differently about their role and will offer some support throughout this journey.

If you’re interested, you can find all the information about the fund, the criteria and the application process on our Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund page and in its downloads section.

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