Seven English museums have received grants totalling £15m from the UK government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to help them survive the Covid pandemic.
The largest award of £3m went to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which manages five of Shakespeare’s family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Tim Cooke, the trust’s chief executive, said the organisation had been badly hit by the financial impact of the pandemic, meaning the funding was “vital and enormously welcome at this critical time”.
The grant will help the trust continue its work until March next year, keeping Shakespeare’s birthplace open to visitors introducing new digital and learning initiatives. Its other four sites are currently closed.
London’s Design Museum was granted £2.97m and the Black Country Living Museum Trust in the West Midlands received £2.56m.
The Design Museum said the money was a “lifeline” that would help it endure a drop in visitor numbers due to the pandemic. The museum says that its major exhibition on electronic music, Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers, has sold out every day since the venue reopened in July. Despite this, footfall is only a third of its previous level due to Covid restrictions.
The other grants went to Birmingham Museums Trust (£1.87m), the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (£1.86m), London Transport Museum (£1.75m), and Dulwich Picture Gallery (£1.36m).
The museums are among 35 cultural organisations receiving grants of between £1m and £3m in a £75m tranche of the Culture Recovery Fund announced at the weekend. Another set of grants of this amount, and £270m worth of loans, will follow in the coming weeks.
Museums Association director Sharon Heal said: “We very much welcome this additional funding for museums from the Culture Recovery Fund. Museums across England have worked hard to reopen and sustain an offer for the public in these challenging times and this funding will make a critical difference for the successful recipients over the coming months.”
Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, said: “The Culture Recovery Fund has already helped hundreds of organisations, of all types and sizes, in villages, towns and cities across the country. It has provided a lifeline that will allow these organisations to continue to play an integral role in their communities and produce new artistic work that will entertain and inspire us all.”
More than £300m worth of grants of up to £1m from the Culture Recovery Fund were announced earlier this month.