ACE has topped up the funding agreement for MDOs to continue the current model until 1 August 2012

ACE confirms interim museum development funding

Geraldine Kendall, 23.11.2011
But MA fears that delay between contracts may unsettle other funding sources
In a letter to museum hubs, Arts Council England (ACE) has confirmed that funding for museum development will be extended until a new delivery model comes into place in August 2012.

The current funding round had been due to end in March next year. The letter states: "In order to make sure that museum development support continues, we would like museum services to deliver the current models of museum development provision up to 1 August 2012.

"This obviously extends beyond the end of your current MLA funding agreements and therefore the arts council will provide the necessary funding for the period April to July 2012."

Museums Association director Mark Taylor welcomed the news but said the delay in confirming the funding may have led some local authorities and other funders to rethink their support of museum development in the meantime.

Taylor said: “The problem is museum development officers (MDO) are not all entirely funded by the Renaissance money. Funding also comes from local authorities.

“The delay [between contracts] has brought more uncertainty. Many MDOs work freelance and they are worried.”

Taylor added: “I think it is true that [MDOs] have been mucked around and there has been a lot of indecision - but in actual fact the money hasn’t been taken away and it is not going to be.”

The announcement comes after ACE’s director of museums and Renaissance, Hedley Swain, stood up at the Museums Association conference last month to apologise for the delay.

The arts council has committed £3m a year for three years from 2012 for museum development.

Following the scrapping of the Renaissance hubs earlier this year, long-term contracts for delivering museum development in each region are to be put out to tender next February when the Renaissance major grants programme has been announced.


At a meeting yesterday between ACE and the MDO committee, the arts council reassured MDOs that it will take further steps to ensure employers and other funders are fully aware of the extension.

According to Renaissance West Midlands MDO Glynis Powell, who attended the meeting, the MDO committee told ACE that it warmly welcomed the announcement of interim funding but had concerns that those working freelance or on portfolio projects would find it hard to extend contracts.

ACE representatives said that though the organisation can't make any promises of funding after 1 August because of the open bidding process, it would be willing to contact employers, match funders and other business partners directly to offer reassurance about the interim period.

This could help lend weight to negotiations in cases where MDOs were having difficulty extending their existing contracts, said ACE.

Powell said: “They were aware that in some cases a letter isn’t enough. We were very happy that they responded to that.”

A conference for MDOs will take place at the STEAM railway museum in Swindon on 13 June 2012. For more details see

ACE apologises to MDOs for mucking them around


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MA Member
23.11.2011, 16:45
As an MDO it would have been nice for ACE to write to us as well to allay fears. Planning is very difficult when you don't know if you're going to be around after March and a 3 month contract extension isn't that much better!
I worry that local authorities won't include MDOs into their yearly budget if their main funder isn't prepared to offer more of a guarantee financially that MDOs are supported and here to stay?