Art Fund has unveiled more than £2m in grants and strategic partnerships to support museums and galleries through the reopening process and help them rebuild in the aftermath of Covid-19.
The national art charity has launched a new £1.5m funding stream, Respond and Reimagine Grants, to help institutions meet their immediate needs and “reimagine future ways of working”.
The fund, which opened to applications this week, will meet immediate needs in four priority areas: collections, audiences, digital skills and infrastructure, and workforce. It aims to encourage “creative and innovative projects as organisations look to reopen with fundamentally different operating models”.
The fund comes in response to an Art Fund survey of museum directors during lockdown, which found that 56% of respondents were worried about the viability of their organisation and 85% were concerned about attracting visitors back.
In addition, Art Fund has established three new strategic partnerships to offer more targeted support. The first, a £280,000 partnership with the Museum Development Network, will help smaller museums at serious risk.
The partnership will distribute grants prioritising museums that have not yet received emergency public funding, as well as smaller museums that fulfil specific cultural or local needs.
A further £150,000 has gone to the newly established Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring (Magnet) to help create co-curated touring exhibitions after lockdown. This funding will support an “ambitious programme for co-curated, collections-based exhibitions to tour nationally”.
The network’s first collaborative project, Hair, Untold Stories, will launch at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London in October 2021 before touring to Museums Sheffield and Tullie House in Carlisle.
The third partnership is a £35,000 collaboration with Clore Leadership to support museum professionals to build skills and connections for “current and future resilience and innovation”.
An additional £250,000 has been put into Art Fund’s existing funding streams, Small Project Grants and Network Grants, which have been open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to help museums improve digital infrastructure, reach audiences and develop networks.
The charity has also made several free digital services available to support museums and galleries with ticketing, crowdfunding and audience engagement. These include Art Tickets, a ticketing tool that helps organisations manage capacity and timed visits required by social distancing, and the charity’s existing digital fundraising tool, Art Happens.
“The future of our museums and galleries, which are so vital to society, is far from certain,” said Art Fund director Jenny Waldman. “Art Fund is putting every effort into helping museums through the current crisis, informed by our recent report into what museums and galleries need, and following the exceptional immediate response from public funders, which provided a lifeline for many organisations.
“We encourage all those at immediate risk or reimagining future ways of working to get in touch.”
Waldman said Art Fund was continuing to fundraise in order to “help museums and galleries adapt and thrive during the biggest challenge in our lifetime”.