Arts Council England (ACE) has awarded more than £22.7m to 66 organisations as part of its Capital Investment Programme.
The funding supports cultural organisations to “adjust buildings and equipment so that they can operate safely post-pandemic and improve access, seize on technological opportunities, and reduce environmental impact”.
Awards range from £100,000 to £750,000, with many of the applicants planning upgrades to ensure environmental sustainability going forwards.
Successful museum recipients include:
New museum on the Isles of Scilly (£750,000)
The Council of the Isles of Scilly will use this funding to redevelop the Town Hall into a new museum and cultural centre. The old museum has been closed to the public since 2019 due to the poor condition of the building. The new venue will welcome artists, the local community and visitors into a fully accessible space, thus enabling a flourishing creative and cultural hub in the heart of the Isles of Scilly, an arts council priority place.
Firstsite, Colchester (£696,525)
The winner of the Art Fund Prize Museum of the Year 2021 will use its award to upgrade all the existing light fittings with LED equivalents, replace the floor in its studios and expand hearing loop facilities. A nearby building used by community groups including Refugee Action Colchester will be refurbished and repaired.
Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library (£585,000)
Preston City Council’s award will be used to refurbish the special exhibitions galleries at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library. A new environmental control plant will be installed and the upgrade will enable the gallery to host more complex exhibitions with a wider range of partners and national institutions, supporting high-quality cultural experiences in Preston.
The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, Nottinghamshire (£460,000)
This funding will allow the museum to enhance existing buildings, gardens and equipment, so it can create new digital content, an auditorium and broadcast suite in the Memorial Hall and improve the visitor experience.
Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum (£300,000)
The award will be used to create Darlington’s Rail Heritage Quarter. By offering augmented and virtual reality experiences and play, the museum hopes to attract new audiences while offering the chance to develop skills and create employment opportunities.
Historical Diving Society, Gosport (£237,000)
The society’s award will be used to make improvements to its museum; to increase the viability of the space and safeguard its future as a key cultural site in an ACE priority place. Improvements include the installation of a ramp and lift and preventing further water ingress. The society plans to display larger sections of its collection and provide an inclusive programme of activities that are relevant to the local community.
East End Women's Museum, London (£200,252)
The funding will support the opening of a physical museum space in Barking to host exhibitions, workshops, social events, and learning opportunities – all centred around the local community.
The Brunel Museum (£135,674)
Funding will enable the museum to make vital building updates to ensure it is fully accessible, as well as create improved gallery spaces for the display of the Thames Tunnel watercolours.
Darren Henley, chief executive officer at ACE, said: “World class creativity and culture needs a resilient and sustainable infrastructure to allow it to flourish.
“With these investments in the buildings, equipment and digital systems of cultural organisations across England, we are helping to secure the future of that infrastructure, and making sure that people from every part of the country can continue enjoying all the benefits it delivers for years to come.”
The arts council uses its priority places to guide the Capital Investment Programme, and 78% of funding will go to organisations outside of London.
“We were hugely impressed not just by the quality of all the applicants to our Capital Investment Programme, but by the sheer number of organisations that share our vision of a fit for the future cultural sector. I’m delighted we were able to increase our budget from £20m to £22.9m so we could support even more change,” Henley added.
Meanwhile applications are now open for the next round of funding from the Museum Estate and Development (Mend) Fund and the Cultural Development Fund (CDF). The Mend fund will distribute £63.3m in this round towards urgent museum maintenance and infrastructure works, while the CDF will invest £30.8m to boost access to arts and culture in areas with low levels of cultural engagement.