The Museum of London's Streetmuseum app - one of 22 case studies in an HLF digital report

HLF says digital content must be free

Sharon Heal, 05.07.2012
Access to digital content will be a condition of funding
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will make access to digital content a precondition of funding for all of its projects from today.

The announcement is part of the HLF’s new strategic framework for 2013-2018, which says that digital content must be free of charge for non-commercial uses; “usable” for five years from completion of the project; and available for 10/25 years depending on the size of the grant.

HLF also announced support for digital-only projects such as websites and apps for the first time.

The kind of activity it might now fund includes: engaging people with digital heritage assets such as film archives and sound recordings; collecting and making accessible data about collections; using digital technology to enhance the visitor experience; and providing a heritage experience off-site, for example through mobile technology or social media.

Mark Taylor, the director of the Museums Association, said: “What I like about the digital policy is its consistency. Everybody knows where they stand. Providing achieving this is within the grasp of all size of projects and we end up with material that everybody can access, I think it is a great step forward.”

The new strategic framework reiterates existing principles of investing in learning and diversifying and broadening audiences but also highlights new areas investment such as programmes encouraging financial and environmental sustainability.

For example transition funding of £10,000-£100,000 will be available for organisations that have had previous HLF investment that want to review their business plans. And small grants of £3,000-£10,000 will be available to boost fundraising under the Catalyst scheme.

The publication of the framework comes against the backdrop of a doubling of the money available from 2012-2013 from £180m to £375m.

Digital participation

A digital report from HLF containing 22 case studies is available online. Among its findings it says a lot can be achieved with little investment, and that organisations should use the enthusiasm and specialist knowledge available within an organisation.

The report also recommends that organisations make use of free social networks and platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Do not assume people will pay for the use of a digital facility; evidence shows a dramatic decrease in user numbers if a charge is introduced.

Case studies highlighted include The Grand Tour created by the National Gallery; I like...Museums an online directory of 80 museums located in the North East of England; and the People’s Collection Wales.

Guidance notes on the digital funding are available on the HLF website from 11am today.