Failed Renaissance applicants speak out

Former Hub museums say loss of funding will hit jobs and service provision
Profile image for Rebecca Atkinson
Rebecca Atkinson
Museums and consortiums of museums that lost out on Renaissance funding have spoken about the impact this will have on their services.

Arts Council England (ACE) last week revealed the 16 successful applicants to its £20m Renaissance major grants programme. It also confirmed that there were 29 eligible applications for the funding, which runs from April until March 2015.

Click here for a list of Renaissance major grant allocations

Museums Sheffield, one of the unsuccessful applicants and a former Renaissance Hub museum, said the decision would result in the loss of about 45 professional posts and “greatly reduced” educational activity.

Another application that missed out was led by by Hull Museums, also a former Renaissance-funded museum, as part of a consortium with East Riding and North Lincolnshire museum services.

Simon Green, assistant head of service for culture and lifestyle at Hull City Council, said: “It’s clear that no funding stream is ever 100% secure and we have to accept that. But there will be impacts. About 10 posts are potentially affected and there will be increased pressure around spending.”

He added that although talks with ACE had been positive, he has questions about the underlying rationale of the funding spread and provision for deprived audiences.  

Former Hub Chatham Historic Dockyard put in an application as part of a consortium with Maidstone Museum and Art Gallery and the Royal Engineers Museum Gillingham.

Bill Ferris, chief executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard, said being turned down for Renaissance funding would reduce the organisation’s ability to deliver services.

“There will be some staff affected by the decision as well as programmes and we are working to minimise impacts,” he added. “It was obvious that not all former Hubs would be successful and I am sure, like us, most will have worked on Plan B.  The main thing now is for clarity on future ACE funding so that this can further inform actions to be taken.”

Film by Museums Sheffield about ACE decision

West Midlands

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, part of Coventry Heritage and Arts Trust, joined forces with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Compton Verney, both in Warwickshire, in its application to ACE.

Ludo Keston, chief executive officer at Coventry Heritage and Arts Trust, said being turned down for funding was disappointing.

“We have been a Renaissance museum for eight years and I’m not going to pretend that it won’t hurt,” he added. “About 19 posts are reliant on Renaissance money and there will be pressure on services such as learning and inclusion.”

Further details of other Renaissance funding streams – including transition funding for former Hub museums – is expected in the coming months, and Keston said that Coventry would be looking at these opportunities with interest.

A thematic consortium between the University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life, the University College London Museums and Collections, the Museum of East Anglian Life and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, was also unsuccessful, as was a consortium of museums from across Staffordshire led by Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

Unsuccessful applicants are not able to appeal the decision, although ACE has a complaints procedure for museums that feel their applications were not handled correctly.

ACE has also provided applicants with feedback and is holding meeting with them to discuss future opportunities and funding streams.

In a statement regarding Museums Sheffield, the funding body said: “We know that not everyone will agree with all our funding decisions but ACE’s job is to make the choices we believe will best ensure that as many people as possible across the country have access to great art and culture.”

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.