Museums Sheffield, one of the recipients of Major Partner Museum funding for 2015-18

Arts council unveils museum funding shake-up

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 14.07.2016
Major Partner Museums scrapped but new opportunities open up
Major Partner Museums and other ringfenced museum funding streams are to be abolished in a radical shake-up announced today by Arts Council England (ACE).

From 2018 onwards, all arts council funding for museums in England will be integrated into the existing National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), Grants for the Arts and strategic funding programmes. The changes come after a survey conducted by the research consultancy ComRes with 1,000 stakeholders found widespread support for the proposals in the culture sector.

ACE plans to introduce three funding bands for NPO applicants: grants between £40,000-£250,000; grants between £250,000-£1m; and grants of more than £1m. Less administrative burden will be placed on those applying for smaller grants, and the length of funding settlements will increase from three to four years.

The NPO programme will also include a new category, Sector Support Organisations, which will be available to organisations that offer support services to the sector rather than producing arts and culture themselves.

The arts council’s director of museums, John Orna-Ornstein, said the changes would open up NPO funding to many more museums: “There will be the potential for smaller museums to apply for funding - it means a broader range can be part of our portfolio.”

Meanwhile the arts council will broaden the eligibility criteria for its Grants for the Arts programme, which at present only offers grants to museums for arts-focused activity. The scheme will be renamed Grants for the Arts and Culture and will be open to a wider range of museum-related activity.

“This will be a really exciting new source of funding for a whole range of activities – for many museums, Grants for the Arts and Culture will be the best source of funding,” said Orna-Ornstein.

ACE also unveiled plans to strategically target particular places and audiences, in order to build on its goals of improving diversity and reaching communities with little cultural provision. This will include a new place-based scheme that will complement its existing strategic funds.

The funding changes are also intended to foster closer partnerships between arts and culture organisations, said Orna-Ornstein.

There is concern in the sector that the integration of funding streams will increase competition between organisations, according to the ComRes consultation, but it also found that stakeholders believe that “this competition may lead to greater excellence throughout the arts council’s funding streams”.

The arts council will publish full guidance for NPO applicants, as well as further details of Grants for the Arts and Culture and strategic funding, in October this year. NPO applications for 2018-22 open on 26 October and funding decisions will be announced in June 2017.

Comments

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22.07.2016, 11:58
This seems pretty rad to me... just surprised that a week on, there's no comments posted! Personally, my cynical side is working overtime but I'm intrigued by the thought of an 'extended 'Grant for the Arts AND CULTURE' programme. Should that herald a slight shift from art-based education to all-embracing cultural education, then I'm all for it :)