Art Fund names first recipients of £2m Reimagine grants - Museums Association

Art Fund names first recipients of £2m Reimagine grants

Funding will support 22 museums to work more deeply with their communities
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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Ely Museum is undertaking a project to deliver re-imagined audience engagement activities to local families
Ely Museum is undertaking a project to deliver re-imagined audience engagement activities to local families © Ely Museum

The national art charity Art Fund has revealed the first recipients of its new £2m Reimagine fund, which was set up to help organisations build expertise, capacity, connections and access as they navigate their way to recovery from the pandemic.

The £658,331 worth of grants will go to 22 cultural organisations across the UK, including museums, galleries, historic houses, trusts and networks.  

Among the grantees are Clifton Suspension Bridge, which will explore the history of couples from all over the world who got engaged at the bridge, and Two Temple Place in London, which will stage an exhibition of 70 years of ceramics by women of colour from West Africa through the diaspora to the UK.  

Engaging young people in the community is at the heart of several projects; the Charles Causley Trust in Cornwall will focus on creative writing, while Ely Museum is undertaking a project to deliver reimagined audience engagement activities to local families. The Vindolanda fort in Hexham will create an online children’s exhibition.

The new Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum, a new national network set up this year by National Museums Liverpool, also received funding to build on its work.

The disability charity Accentuate and cultural development organisation Screen South will lead on a project to reinterpret collections through a disability lens, in partnership with nine museums.

The Blind School Pioneering People and Places Screen South

Art Fund director Jenny Waldman said: “Art Fund’s new Reimagine grants will allow many more museums to understand, and work deeply with, their communities. Museums often produce what seem like miracles on a shoestring, but they need enhanced resources - such as in digital, specialist support and staffing - to truly build for the future. We are proud to support these impressive projects, something we could not have done without the exceptional generosity of our members and donors.”  

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The second round of grants will be announced in November. The deadline for submissions for the third and final round of 2021 Reimagine grants is 11 October and these will be announced in December.  

Organisations are able to apply for support of between £5,000 and £50,000. Demand for grants has been high, with 71 applications in the first round asking for a total of £1.9m, which Art Fund says demonstrates the continued level of need in the sector.  

The grant stream was made available in response to the needs outlined in Art Fund’s survey of museum directors in the UK, which was published in May 2021. It is partly funded by the charity’s Together for Museums fundraising campaign, which raised more than £1.1m from more than 4,000 donors.

Smaller grants (between £5,000 and £15,000)

Nottingham Contemporary – Caption-Conscious Ecolog, £11,025

An ambitious research and commissioning initiative. It will produce a series of talks and workshops, a new caption-conscious moving-image commission and an access toolkit.

Redbridge Museum – Reimagining Redbridge Museum, £15,000

The project will create a temporary exhibition space within the redeveloped permanent Redbridge Museum local history exhibition which reopens in 2022.

The Charles Causley Trust – Expanding our Visual Arts Offer: Communities, Networks and Young People, £14,900

This will produce an artistic commission and residency at Charles Causley’s house with a series of engagements with young people which draw inspiration from the writing and locations of Charles Causley’s Launceston and the reinterpretation of the English Heritage castle.

National Museums Liverpool – Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum, £11,000

Led by National Museums Liverpool in partnership with Museum of London, Black Cultural Archives, Bristol Culture, Hull Museums and Glasgow Museums, the Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum will be the first national network of its kind to share current discourse and create a narrative thread to fully represent slavery and its legacies in the UK.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge – The Union – £15,000

This project, in collaboration with artist Emily Sorrell, invites couples who got engaged at the bridge to become members of The Union to honour their contribution to the landmark’s human history.

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival – Engaging Neighbourhoods, £7,500

Six Calderdale groups will work with artists to interpret a shared theme, exploring relationships with the local and global environment, culminating in a public sharing of the work.

Riba – Becontree Centenary Reimagined, £15,000

Working with local partners, Riba will mark the centenary of the UK’s largest housing estate, Becontree Estate in east London, with new in-gallery and public realm artistic and architectural commissions, events and learning programmes, engaging residents and national audiences.

Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum – Impressions of a Welsh Regiment, £9,585

This project will improve access to collections by digitisation enhancing the digital offer to a global audience. Digitising the museum’s art collection will provide a valuable resource for a variety of activities, including outreach to schools, community groups and under-served reach audiences.

Mount Stuart Trust – Stitching Recovery, £14,725

Mount Stuart Trust will work with creative partnership Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way on a community quilt-making project and exhibition. The project will include an exhibition of quilted works by the artists, and working with island communities on Bute to weave their own stories into newly created quilted pieces.

Larger grants (between £15,000 and £50,000)

Screen South/Accentuate – Reimagining Disability Collections, £49,915

This project will be delivered in partnership with nine museums: Museum of Liverpool; Black Country Living Museum; Thackray Museum of Medicine; National Railway Museum; Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean Museums; Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Hastings Museum and Historic Dockyard Chatham. It will explore new co-production methodologies with Disability Heritage Co-production Groups of D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people, seeking to reimagine and reinterpret collections through a disability lens.

Ely Museum – People and Place: Engaging East Cambridgeshire, £39,548

This project will deliver re-imagined audience engagement activities to the communities of East Cambridgeshire, including family sessions and sessions for under-fives. A creative project in collaboration with a local secondary school will produce a work to be displayed at the museum.

CVAN – Fair and Equitable Practice, £49,995

This project is about repositioning the Contemporary Visual Arts Network for England (CVAN) to strengthen the sector nationally. CVAN will support the sector to address systemic issues of inequality, decarbonisation, and relevance through an alliance and collective development. It will present a national professional development programme aimed at England’s visual art sector.

Project Art Works – Creative Pathways for Neurodivergent Artists, £40,000

Project Art Works is a collective of neurodivergent artists and activists who have this year been nominated for the Turner Prize. Its programmes evolve through creative practice and radiate out to awareness-raising in the cultural and care sectors, promoting more diverse representation in programming and relevancy for audiences. The Reimagine grant will support the development of this work.

Two Temple Place – Exhibition 2022: Body, Vessel, Clay, £50,000

Two Temple Place’s 10th annual exhibition, Body Vessel Clay, and programme of learning, participation and events will be supported by the Reimagine grant. Running from January to April 2022, the exhibition will span 70 years of ceramics, celebrating work by women of colour from West Africa through the diaspora to the UK.

Ushaw Historic House – The Hidden Treasures of Ushaw, £40,000

This project will explore new technologies to share collections digitally to welcome a wider variety of people. An interactive outdoor adventure trail with the museum’s contents will support new audiences to uncover the hidden stories and treasures at Ushaw. Augmented reality will bring the collections to life outdoors through a specially created app using tag and tag-less AR and GPS. Gamification will improve user engagement.

Norton Priory Museum and Gardens – The Mindful Museum, £43,500

Norton Priory will revisit its Augustinian roots to provide a 21st century place for wellbeing and mindfulness. Using the archaeological site and collection as inspiration and its modern, purpose-built facilities, Norton Priory will provide restful, imaginative and mindful activity to all.

Artlink Hull – 87 Gallery, £48,559

87 Gallery is a contemporary visual art gallery and artist space developed by Artlink Hull. The Reimagine grant will enable a 12-month programme of exhibitions and public engagement activities, as well as two new gallery staff roles, which will play a central role in developing the future strategic direction and programming of the gallery.

Block Universe – Digital Engagement Strategy Development, £34,795

This grant will support Block Universe (BU) to reimagine its activities following the pandemic by creating and delivering a new digital engagement strategy. This will include a new website, targeted digital engagement programme, a new hybrid digital and live public programme ‘Mutations’ in May 2022 and online earned income activities.

Society of Genealogists – Reimagining how we work and engage with people, £50,000

The society’s 8,000 pedigree rolls tell the stories of many extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Conserving and making these family trees available to many people is challenging due to their size, age, fragility, and handwritten nature. In collaboration with Imperial College and Socially Bright, software will be developed to make these family trees available to people in an engaging and virtual way.

Broadway Gallery and Studio – Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, £28,000

The grant will enable the recruitment of an arts and heritage officer to support the delivery of a community-driven cultural engagement programme built around three core strands: a new exhibition programme, workshops and artistic development activity; community consultation to create a new cultural programme that directly reflects community need and maximises engagement; and the piloting of new activities to engage those groups disproportionately affected by Covid.

Vindolanda Trust – Digital Bibliographies, £24,300

The Vindolanda Trust will create an online children’s exhibition in partnership with Newcastle University and Creative Assembly. The exhibition, through mentorships, will be developed by a student at Newcastle’s Games Lab. It will be targeted at seven to 11-year-olds and it will be an interactive space featuring two characters from Roman Vindolanda supported by content from Vindolanda Trust and Creative Assembly.

The Story Museum – Young Curators: Minecraft Museum, £45,995

In this co-curation project with young people aged 14-18, the Story Museum and participants will exchange skills in curation and narrative gaming, using the collection as inspiration to create a digital version of the Enchanted Library gallery, along with three new digital story realms in Minecraft. These will be added to the collection and participants will design and host events for the public.

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