New opportunities for museums in England as ACE reopens project grants - Museums Association

New opportunities for museums in England as ACE reopens project grants

Updated criteria allows some applications from individuals and for work involving SSNs
Jonathan Knott
Arts Council England (ACE) has reopened its National Lottery Project Grants with updated criteria that allow new types of application from the museum sector.

Applications for museum and collections projects under the scheme are now open to individuals as well as organisations, provided that the plans involve an Accredited museum.

Before ACE suspended the programme in March, only Accredited museums or organisations that support them could apply for this strand of the grant scheme, which focuses on delivering a museum’s core purpose.

ACE says that projects must “involve and benefit at least one Accredited museum, its work and its visitors”. They can focus a wide range of areas such as programming, digital work or touring, and must involve some element of public engagement.

Organisations that can apply include support organisations or networks, funders, and research organisations as well as museums.

In a further change, organisations can now apply for project grants for work that involves subject specialist network (SSN) activity that benefits Accredited museums.

National Portfolio Organisations and national museums can apply for these grants to support SSN activity on behalf of their network – as long as the network includes Accredited museums.

Applicants for SSN activity grants must also show how their project develops public engagement with museums and their collections.

The national activities strand of project grants, which can be used for national touring or nationally significant work, is continuing.

And as before, any type of museum can apply for project grants for arts-focused projects.

All other strands of ACE’s project grants are also reopening, but ACE is expecting applications to reflect the changed circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. A previous requirement for projects to include match funding to a minimum of 10% of the amount applied for has also been removed.

ACE's guidance on changes to the scheme's criteria says: “We understand that the context applicants to project grants will be working in is very different in the post Covid-19 world. We will be taking the current context into consideration when we make our decisions, and we expect that the type of applications we receive will reflect the changed circumstances.”

It adds: “We want to make sure that individual applicants are well supported through project grants, particularly while other programmes for individuals like Developing your Creative Practice are not available. As we make decisions we will be making sure that the success rate for individual applicants is at least the same as it is for organisations.”

In contrast, ACE's chief executive Darren Henley has said the £1.57bn government support package for the cultural sector will be focused on supporting organisations.
The changes to the project grants criteria apply until April 2021.
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