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£2 million fund to support museums through the COVID-19 crisis announced

As the doors of Britain’s museums and galleries begin to open from today, Art Fund has announced that further funding and resources will be made available in response to the challenges being faced by UK cultural institutions.

After consultation with hundreds of museum directors and professionals in its Covid-19 Impact Report, Art Fund will make more than £2 million available in additional funding. This provision will take the form of Respond and Reimagine grants, as well as strategic partnerships designed to support museums through their reopening period and beyond.

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, said:

“The future of our museums and galleries, which are so vital to society, is far from certain. Art Fund is putting every effort into helping museums through the current crisis, informed by our recent report into what museums and galleries need, and following the exceptional immediate response from public funders which provided a lifeline for many organisations.

“We encourage all those at immediate risk or reimagining future ways of working to get in touch. However, these steps alone will not secure the future – more help is required. We are now fundraising so we can continue to support museums and galleries and we’re calling for everyone to come together now to help museums and galleries adapt and thrive during the biggest challenge in our lifetime.”

Following the temporary closures of cultural organisations across the UK, Art Fund surveyed the sector to identify how it could best support as many museums as possible through this period. Drawing more than 400 responses, the Covid-19 Impact report showed that 56% of directors were worried about the viability of their organisation, and 85% were concerned over attracting visitors back. 98% of respondents shared details of cancelled exhibitions, conservation, community projects and more. Four key areas of need emerged: the future of collections and exhibitions, digital skills and infrastructure, reopening and encouraging audiences back, and supporting a passionate and skilled workforce.

To provide much-needed support during this crucial time, Art Fund is making £1.5 million available this year in Respond and Reimagine Grants, with applications now open to qualifying organisations.

This flexible and responsive funding will meet immediate needs in the four priority areas of collections, audiences, digital and workforce, costs to support reopening, as well as encouraging creative and innovative projects as organisations look to reopen with fundamentally different operating models.

Apply for Respond and Reimagine Grants here.

Three new strategic partnerships will help reach smaller museums at serious risk; build skills among the workforce; and respond to the need to re-focus on collections. The Covid-19 Impact report showed that 12% of respondents were not eligible for existing emergency funds, 68% of staff would find free online training helpful; and that there would be fewer toured-in or blockbuster exhibitions.

A £280,000 partnership with the Museum Development Network will distribute additional grants prioritising museums that have not yet received emergency public funding and smaller museums fulfilling specific cultural or local needs. £150,000 will be provided in seed funding for the newly established Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring to support an ambitious programme for co-curated, collections-based exhibitions to tour nationally. A £35,000 collaboration with Clore Leadership to support sector professionals will build skills, competencies and connections for current and future resilience and innovation.

Art Fund’s existing programme will also be bolstered with an additional £250,000 for Small Project Grants and Network Grants – flexible, quick-turnaround funds to support museums in reaching audiences and developing professional networks – that have been open and helping organisations improve digital infrastructure, reach audiences and develop networks from the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Art Fund also has free digital services available to help museums with ticketing, crowdfunding and audience engagement, including Art Tickets, to help organisations with capacity and timed tickets as museums navigate reopening. Free development opportunities, including online training, new case studies and other learning resources are being made available at artfund.org.

Explore Art Fund’s professional development opportunities here.

About the author – Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.

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