Scottish Executive unveils Recognition funding scheme - Museums Association

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Scottish Executive unveils Recognition funding scheme

The Scottish Executive has agreed to fund a Scottish equivalent of the English museum's Designation Scheme, for museums with 'nationally significant' collections.
Jane Morris
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Last month it announced a grant of £1m over two years to be managed by the Scottish Museums Council (SMC).

Under the scheme, museums can apply to become one of Scotland's Recognised Collections of National Significance. The applications will be considered by a panel of experts chaired by Douglas Connell, former chairman of the Scottish Arts Council's Lottery Committee.

Museums will have to demonstrate 'that the collection is of such importance and quality that it is worthy of formal recognition as a Recognised Collection' and, as a secondary requirement, the organisation's 'commitment to collections management and public services'.

At the time of going to press, no museums had made formal notifications of interest, but it is likely that major local authority collections, such as those in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen, will be among the candidates. Once a museum is Recognised it can apply for a share of the fund.

According to the SMC, the chief difference between Recognition and Designation is that museums will be able to apply for Recognition each year (Designation had fixed rounds), and the funding can be used for revenue, not just one-off capital projects.

Joanne Orr, the director of the SMC, said it was an important step for non-national Scottish museums. 'For years, central government wanted nothing to do with funding non-nationals. But the Scottish Executive is now recognising the importance of the collections outside the nationals.

'We have high hopes that we can use this scheme to improve standards of public service delivery and collections management, and show the executive that our museums are worth more investment in future.'

The executive currently gives £1m a year to the Regional Development Challenge Fund (RDCF) until 2007, and a further £440,000 a year to three industrial museums - the Scottish Mining Museum, the Scottish Maritime Museum and the Scottish Fisheries Museum. The executive has said that as soon as these three museums gain Recognition, the £440,000 will be added to the central Recognition fund.

The future of the RDCF is currently unknown, but Orr hopes the money will continue. There are options in year two of Recognition for Recognised museums to partner with museums
that are not in the scheme.

Fergus Waters, the director of the Scottish Mining Museum, welcomed the scheme. 'It is a really important initiative by the Scottish Executive,' he said. 'We will have to go through the same Recognition process as everyone else, and if we are successful we will have to argue our case for funding along with all the other Recognised museums.'

Jane Morris

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