Dove Cottage, part of the Wordsworth Trust

Significant areas of England left without Renaissance funding

Sharon Heal, 24.01.2012
No funding for East Midlands and Museums Sheffield to appeal decision
The Arts Council England today announced its 16 major partner museums that will be funded as part of the Renaissance programme.

There are some newcomers on the list such as the Cumbria Museums Consortium, which includes the Wordsworth Trust and the Lakelands Arts Trust, which weren’t previously part of the hub structure.

But there were also some significant losers.

There is no major partner museum in the East Midlands despite the fact that Derby and Nottingham museum services applied as a partnership.

And Museums Sheffield, which also made an unsuccessful application, has vowed to appeal the decision.


Is the distribution of ACE Renaissance funding fair?

Nick Dodd, the chief executive of Museums Sheffield, said: "This is bitterly disappointing news. Funding from the outgoing Renaissance in the Regions scheme has transformed the quality of museum and gallery provision in Sheffield over the past 8 years.

"We know we put together a compelling case for continued funding under the new Arts Council grants programme, which met all the published criteria.

"This decision will have a devastating impact and leaves Sheffield, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands grossly under-funded by the Arts Council in comparison with other parts of the country.

"We fully intend to appeal and will be questioning the Arts Council’s strategic and geographical distribution of this public money."

An ACE spokesman said: "Yorkshire has an incredibly strong museums offer, which was reflected in the high quality of applications we received from the region, and it was with regret that we couldn’t fund Sheffield Museums as a major partner.

“We recognise the excellent work Sheffield Museums have been doing and we are already speaking to them about how we can support their ambitions for the future through other parts of the Renaissance programme."

Twenty-nine applications were received in total which means at least 13 museums or consortia lost out.

Maurice Davies, head of policy at the Museums Association, said that some museums that lost out were doing fantastic work and he hoped ACE would address any geographical anomalies through the Strategic Support Fund.

The major museums will receive approximately £20m a year for the next three years. The exact amounts of each award will be published in April.

One year’s transitional funding will be available to unsuccessful applicants that currently receive Renaissance funding and will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

The Museums Development fund opens to applications next month, with a total of £8m available between 2012 and 2015.

For list of major grant awards and funding map, click here


This story was updated at 3.24pm


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MA Member, MJ Subscriber, MP Subscriber
30.01.2012, 09:00
The most recent comment makes a good point, the cake is getting smaller and the jam getting thinner so why in gods name have we seen services who were doing well with £650,000 P/A of Renaissance funding be given as much as £2M P/A? The truth no one wants to admit about the old program is that money was wasted on vanity projects, bad ideas and poor management. Many services who did good work at the old funding level could in reality have managed with 30% less thereby freeing up funds for new entrants and many of the deserving medium sized services that did not get a seat at the Renaissance table. If ACE really wanted great Art for EVERYONE they should have considered this route. What they have created is a bigger divide than the North/South divide. Unfortunately it will be just as permanent as those that missed out will be so far behind in three years this set up will be permanent.
MA Member
27.01.2012, 22:18
I don't envy the ACE in their task of sharing out the money amongst the many applicants. I am sure everybody put in a compelling case, but the cake can only be shared out between so many and the cake isn't getting any bigger, in fact it's getting smaller.

The issue is do we want centres of excellence in each region or do we want to spread the jam more thinly? The next question is do the big museums, with their great collections and expertise, really deliver more bang for their buck than smaller, perhaps more nimble and flexible, museums. Each museum is an individual so a one size fits all approach will never work. All we can hope (perhaps naively) is that the decision is fair and based on objective criteria, rather than politics.
MA Member
26.01.2012, 21:57
Plot a line from York to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge and Norwich. What are you left with? The wasteland that is the East Midlands, the 'Bermuda Triangle' as my colleague described it. To those that have, more will be given...
26.01.2012, 11:02
We were a hub museum who got turned down for funding and are now looking at redundancies within the immediate future which will undeniably affect our service
MA Member, MJ Subscriber, MP Subscriber
24.01.2012, 23:12
It has been an interesting day and whilst not everyone will be in the position that Sheffield faces there are still some probing questions to ask.

Why has money flowed to those who are by and large stable or comfortable already? Reward success by all means but encouraging growth is also a route to excellence.

What level of consideration was there for communities of need in distributing this money? London has a Cultural offer which is the envy of the world but there remain holes in provision elsewhere.

Will ACE be transparent about the stage 2 'balancing the portfolio' process? Again we must hope this will be the case or they may expose themselves to accusations of cronyism or bias regardless of fact.

Finally the question for those hub museums that were unsuccessful, what are the implications for their services? Anything more than a dozen jobs would seem to be a complete failure by them to plan effectively for the worst and best case scenarios.