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Arts Council England announces Renaissance Major partner museums and details of the new museum development fund

24 January 2012

Museums and Libraries

Arts Council England has today (Tuesday 24 January 2012) announced the 16 Major partner museums (see Notes to Editors) who will together receive approximately £20 million a year in funding for the next three years (April 2012 – March 2015) as part of its Renaissance programme for regional museums.

The awards follow the Arts Council’s assumption of responsibilities for museum development from the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2011. It is the first time major Renaissance grants have been awarded for a three year period via an open application system against published criteria.

The awards are also made in the context of the strategic goals in Culture, Knowledge and Understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone the document that sets out how the Arts Council is placing museums and libraries firmly at the heart of the organisation, its work and its vision for the future.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “The announcement of our 16 major partner museums is a significant step forward in the Arts Council’s closer relationship with the wider cultural sector.

“They have all been chosen for the excellence of their work, their innovative approaches to connecting audiences with their collections, and for their compelling plans for the future. We are excited to be working with them and we’re confident that together they have the skills and ambition needed to provide the sort of inspirational leadership and direction that will benefit museums and audiences across the country.

“We received many more strong applications than we were able to fund and we recognise there will be disappointment, but major partner funding is not the only way the Arts Council is supporting regional museums. We believe that the opportunities for investment, skills sharing and support available through the other parts of Renaissance will benefit many more museums of all shapes and sizes across the country.”

The 16 major partners represent a diverse range of museums across England, including local authority and university museums and independent trusts. Several successful applications came from consortia, meaning that 23 museum services will receive support through this part of Renaissance.

The Arts Council received 29 eligible applications for major partner funding, requesting a total of £116.4 million over three years. The 16 successful applicants requested £23.5 million a year against an annual budget of approximately £20 million. The exact amounts of each major partner’s award will therefore be finalised as part of the negotiations of their funding agreements and published in April.

One year’s transitional funding will be available to unsuccessful applicants who currently receive support from the MLA Renaissance hub scheme, to help them adjust to these changes. Levels of transitional funding will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

More details of the Renaissance Museum development fund are also announced today. This new fund will help to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the museums sector by enabling the sharing of expertise and knowledge, to maximize the benefits to audiences and communities. Applicants will bid to deliver development support for museums through local museum networks. The Museums development fund will open to applications on 7 February 2012 and close on 7 March 2012, with a total of £8 million available between 2012 and 2015.

Details of the Renaissance Strategic support fund – anticipated to be around £15 million a year – will be announced in the autumn. Strategic support will complement Major partner and Museums development investment, and will focus on any gaps or development opportunities not addressed by the other funds.

The final part of the Arts Council’s reworked Renaissance programme is the ongoing development of National programmes, including Accreditation, Designation, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the PRISM fund, support for national campaigns such as Kids in Museums and Museums at Night, and subject specialist networks.

Arts Council England is confident that the various funding streams of its Renaissance programme will work together to provide a comprehensive package of support, driving excellence and delivering long term change in museums in England, with the aim of attracting more visitors to museums and enabling people to experience them in new and innovative ways.

Notes to editors

The 16 Major partner museums are:

o Beamish and Bowes Museum

o Birmingham Museums Trust (Birmingham City Council; Thinktank)

o Bristol City Council

o Cumbria Museums Consortium (Tullie House; Wordsworth Trust; Lakeland Arts Trust)

o Horniman Museum & Gardens

o Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

o Leeds Museums & Galleries

o Manchester Partnership (Manchester City Galleries; Manchester Museum; Whitworth Art Gallery)

o Museum of London

o Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

o Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter and Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery

o Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

o Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

o University of Cambridge Museums

o Oxford University Museums and Oxfordshire County Museums Service

o York Museums Trust.

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.