Simon Stephens, Issue 119/03, 01.03.2019
Looking to the next 25 years of lottery support
This year is the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery, which has provided more than £40bn for good causes since 1994. The UK’s heritage has been a major beneficiary of lottery cash, with £8bn awarded to more than 44,000 heritage projects. And just under £3bn of that money has gone to 5,500 projects within museums, archives and libraries.

This has included huge grants for high-profile capital schemes across the UK, but there has also been lottery support for numerous small-scale projects in museums, ranging from community archaeology to workforce initiatives.

The money has been channelled through the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has just announced a rebranding to become the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), while also unveiling its plans for the next five years (see news, p7).

There are lots of changes that should have a big impact on how the fund supports museums. One of these is devolving responsibility across the UK – from now on, 80% of all funding decisions will be made in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and three areas of England (the current figure is 45%).

The NLHF also wants applicants to up their game on inclusion, and will expect projects to be more accessible and reach a broader range of people. There will be additional support for applicants from organisations that work with groups that are under-represented in heritage – young people, disabled people, minority ethnic and LGBT+ communities and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Another new requirement is for every heritage project to be environmentally friendly, reflecting the vital importance of sustainability. The NLHF also wants to help museums become more sustainable themselves in terms of their finances.

The NLHF has become a key funder for museums in so many areas of their work, particularly as other sources of money continue to decline. And all of its ambitious plans for the sector will have to be delivered by a smaller number of staff – the organisation expects to lose 20 of its 300 staff as part of an internal reorganisation.

With such wide-ranging responsibilities, it is vital that the NLHF has sufficient resources to support its work as it looks forward to the next 25 years.

Simon Stephens, editor, Museums Journal