Wisbech and Fenland Museum (c) Evelyn Simak via Geograph / CC BY 2.0

ACE grants £2.3m emergency support to smaller museums

Jonathan Knott, 17.06.2020
More than 100 institutions have received up to £35,000 each to help them survive and adapt to the coronavirus pandemic
Arts Council England (ACE) has awarded £2.3m to more than 100 museums outside its national portfolio as part of an emergency support package for the cultural sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The awards range from less than £1,000 to more than £35,000. They are intended to help the recipients respond to the immediate pressures of the crisis, enabling them to stabilise and plan for the future.

The largest chunk of money went to museums in the north of England, which received a total of £0.7m. Recipients in this region included Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (£34,380), the Silk Heritage Trust in Macclesfield (£32,484) and the Vindolanda Trust which manages Hadrian’s Wall (£34,771).

Museums in the south east received £600,000 with other ACE regions receiving £500,000 or less for museums.

In total, 103 museum grants were awarded, with a further 80 applications from museums unsuccessful.

The awards made to museums form part of £47.7m awarded to 2,182 organisations outside ACE’s portfolio. This includes £7m for visual arts organisations, £11m for combined arts organisations, and £11.5m for theatres.

In addition, ACE has awarded £17.1m to individuals working in the cultural sector for similar purposes. This includes a total of £137,063 awarded to 62 museum professionals.

Not included in these figures is a further £4m ACE has awarded to cultural workers through a series of benevolent funds.

This means that across all cultural forms, 9,666 individuals and organisations have received £64.8m through ACE’s grants announced today.

This includes £13.1m for BAME individuals and BAME-led organisations, and £8.5m for D/deaf or disabled individuals and disabled-led organisations.

The overall success rates were 73% for applications from individuals and 65% for those from organisations.

To complete its £160m Covid-19 emergency support package for the arts, ACE will soon announce further funding of up to £90m for organisations in its national portfolio and Creative People and Places lead organisations.

Almost 90% of the support package is funded through National Lottery receipts.

One recipient of today’s grants was Wisbech and Fenland Museum in Cambridgeshire, which received £16,121 to help it engage audiences with its collection digitally and support staff to work remotely.

The museum’s curator Robert Bell said: “It is going to be a great summer and we will be adapting and doing all the things we would normally do but slightly differently and often in new ways. The museum team are busy planning how we can reopen safely and we’re also developing new digital resources for schools. We thank ACE for its timely support which will help us maintain our connections with our community.”

ACE's director of museums, Kate Bellamy, said: “These grants have provided thousands of organisations, including museums, with a lifeline that will help them to survive the immediate impact of Covid-19 over the summer months.

"Some will be using their grant to pay the bills, others to keep staff employed, continue to work with their collections and to find new ways to engage their audiences. All are vital to ensuring that we maintain a solid foundation so that the sector can build on as we emerge from the crisis.”

Darren Henley, chief executive at ACE, said the organisation “has never awarded so many grants, in such a short space of time, to so many creative people".

The funder’s chair, Nicholas Serota, said: “This urgent financial support has provided a lifeline to the many creative individuals and organisations across England that make up our vibrant cultural sector, for whom Covid-19 has dealt a devastating blow.”

Serota said that support from the government and culture ministers had been crucial “to protect and sustain a cultural sector that can be a catalyst for national renewal, as we emerge from this crisis".