Museum funders relax grant conditions in light of Covid-19 pandemic

Plans to adapt or create new funding programmes in response to crisis
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
Culture and heritage funding bodies are radically reshaping their agendas in response to the Covid-19 emergency.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund said in a statement this week: “We want to reassure everyone we fund that we will be as flexible and supportive as we can be, during this very challenging time.
“If you are concerned about the impact of the Coronavirus on your heritage project or organisation, please get in touch with your investment manager/senior investment manager or speak to the team in your local area or country office. This will help us get a fuller understanding of the extent of the challenges and what support may be needed.
“We’ll be reviewing our funding approaches as we build up a clear picture of the potential impact on those we support. We will be working with other national heritage stakeholders, funders and the government to see what support we might be able offer together.”
Arts Council England has announced it will adapt or create new funding programmes to respond to the crisis.
In a statement, it said: “Our number one priority in the coming months is to support people who work in the arts, museums and libraries.
“Our emergency planning covers all our funding streams including those that support individuals, small organisations who receive project funding, Music Education Hubs, Creative People and Places (CPP), and National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).
“We have a number of important decisions to make about how we adapt or create new funding programmes to respond to the Covid-19 emergency, and what we will do about our future investment process for NPOs. We will update you on these decisions as soon as possible.”
The arts council has confirmed that it will relax grant conditions on its funding programmes, and said it would be in touch with each NPO and CPP over the next 10 days to talk this through.
The statement continued: “This is a situation without precedent. The most important thing this week is for people to take time to consider the impact of this emergency on what they do, to start thinking about how to respond and what will be needed in terms of support.”
Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS), which closed its office this week, has published advice to its current grantholders, confirming that it will be flexible around project timescales and how money is used.
Its current funding schemes remain open to applications. MGS said that it would also continue to accept claims for salary costs, even when the postholder is unable to deliver a project as planned.
The chief executive officer of MGS, Lucy Casot, said: “These are challenging times as we try to navigate this uncertain period and make the best decisions we can for our workforce, our visitors and our families with the available information in a swiftly changing Covid-19 situation [...]
“We want to be visible and accessible to you throughout the time ahead using all the technology available to us. We are all here for each other at this time. We will stay in touch and please do the same.”
MGS is planning a social media campaign to highlight how “museums and galleries can continue to entertain, educate and inspire by signposting digital resources that will continue to give access to museums for those stuck at home and be helpful to those caring for children in the coming period”.
Artists responding
Artists and creative practitioners have begun responding to the pandemic. Bristol artist Luke Jerram, who created the renowned Museum of the Moon installation, unveiled a new glass sculpture this week depicting the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 (pictured). The sculpture, which was commissioned by a US university, is two million times larger than the virus itself.
Museums Journal is monitoring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it develops. Contact in confidence to tell us how the crisis is affecting you or your organisation

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