Fierce contest for HLF cash

Simon Stephens, Issue 109/2, p11, February 2009
Applications for lottery money for capital projects are hugely oversubscribed
Museums and galleries are likely to continue to face fierce competition for lottery money, according to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The latest set of first-round applications was more than three-times oversubscribed.

The HLF board gave first-round passes to four schemes at a meeting held late last year. They were a £4.7m application to redisplay the history collections at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; £4.5m to restore Cardigan Castle; £3.1m for the redevelopment of the Grade I-listed Stowe House in Buckinghamshire; and £3m to help the National Trust protect Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

First-round passes provide development funding for organisations to create detailed proposals and secure full grants.

Rejected first-round applications included schemes at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge; Killhope, the North of England Lead Mining Museum; and the Ditchling Museum in East Sussex.

HLF funding has been hit by the government diverting lottery money to support the London Olympics in 2012. The organisation also has less to give after a change in its policy over providing funds in advance. It will distribute £220m in new awards in 2008-09, falling to £180m a year from 2009. This compares with £330m in 2005-06.

HLF director of operations Bob Bewley said museums and galleries "had not done badly" in obtaining grants during the past year. In October, London's National Maritime Museum won £5m to create new galleries, while the Roman Army Museum in Northumberland benefited from a £4m award.

Bewley advised applicants to meet the HLF's learning outcomes and to work closely with HLF officers in the early stages of their bids.

The HLF announced second-round awards totalling £15.6m for four projects: the Canterbury Beaney, a museum, art gallery and library in Kent; Leeds City Varieties Music Hall in West Yorkshire; Antrim Castle Gardens in Northern Ireland; and Preston Hall Museum in Stockton-on-Tees.