NMDC has published ‘Good Practice Guidelines for Reopening Museums’ with support from DCMS and the Museums and Galleries Working Group. The guidelines should be read in conjunction with other relevant regulations, for instance, on opening lab facilities, green spaces and shops, which are available from BEIS, DEFRA and the Department for Education. Important issues include:
All employers must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment, in conjunction with unions or workers.
The default remains that staff should work remotely if they can, with social distancing wherever possible for those returning to work, and consideration of ‘fixed teams or partnering’ where one person works with only a handful of others. Employers should be mindful of vulnerable groups, those with childcare responsibilities and the importance of the Equality Act and not discriminating against those with protected characteristics.
Measures for public safety may include timed ticketing, one way systems, reducing or ceasing use of interactives, reserving lifts for those with mobility issues and reconsidering use of outside space in new ways – for example encouraging picnics if café facilities are limited. There should also be a cleaning rota for toilets, with accessible toilet facilities available.
Museums should be confident that when they reopen, they will be able to offer services in keeping with their charitable objectives and public purpose.
Consider the business case for reopening – many venues are expecting 30% of previous visitor numbers, affecting financial viability. Issues include staff availability, whether to shorten or lengthen opening hours, and whether it is possible to work at a loss for a period to support visits from the local community.
Large scale non-essential transport will be slow to return, so audiences are likely to be more local. Museums should consider the risks associated with travel for staff, volunteers and visitors.
Museums also need to consider their local contexts – for example, some university museums may open in line with the rest of a campus, others, linked to wider tourist economies will need to work together with bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, schools and tourist boards.
The guidance will continue to be updated as museums begin to open from this week and the sector learns from shared experiences, it will also be kept up to date with the latest Government guidance. NMDC (full guidance), HSE (toolkit for risk assessment)
The Scottish Government has published guidance for museums, galleries and heritage attractions in Scotland. It looks at what organisations of all sizes should undertake in planning for reopening, with a strong emphasis on consulting with employees, volunteers and trade unions. The guidance will be regularly reviewed, in line with the three weekly reviews of lockdown guidance overall. Scottish Government,
AIM and the Museum Development Network publish reopening checklist
To complement the NMDC publication, AIM and the Museum Development Network have also published a checklist, addressing topics from consulting people to addressing wellbeing and making the best use of networks. AIM
ICON has also published guidance for organisations which do not have extensive in-house conservation expertise, which are now attending to collections that have been held dormant for a significant period. ICON
Government £1.57bn package of emergency grants and loans for the cultural sector
The Government has announced a £1.57bn package of grants and loans for the cultural sector, to help it weather the effects of Covid-19. The funding breaks down as follows:
£1.15bn of grants and loans to be spent in England, consisting of £270m in repayable finance on generous terms and £880m in grants.
£100m for national cultural institutions in England and for English Heritage.
£120m to restart construction on capital investment projects paused in England due to the coronavirus.
£188m for the devolved administrations consisting of £33m for Northern Ireland, £97m for Scotland and £59m for Wales.
Detail and individual awards will be organised working alongside ACE, NLHF, Historic England and other specialist bodies. Culture Minister Oliver Dowden said “I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations…I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.” Neil Mendoza, recently appointed Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal said that the package is the result of “intense work over many weeks to create a vital and necessary national cultural stabilisation package for arts, music, heritage and museums”. In a statement, NMDC said “this funding is a signal that the Government is committed to supporting our essential national and regional institutions through this challenging time. The capital investment will help avert a secondary crisis for existing grant holders that are already part way through capital initiatives, ensuring that these vital projects can deliver their intended public benefits.”Gov.uk, Arts Professional, M + H, The Art Newspaper, NMDC (statement)
Also: Scroll for further funding announcements this month.
Images this month: RAF museum, National Gallery and Ironbridge Gorge among the first museums to reopen
Ironbridge Gorge was among the first museums to open this week, with its grounds and a number of its museums open through a timed ticket scheme. It has produced a short film to talk the public through its new measures. Derby Museums Trust, Tullie House, the RAF Museum and Wallace Collection are also among those opening in the first week of July.
The National Gallery will be among the earliest of the larger nationals to reopen on July 8th, with others opening over a longer period, to reduce the impact on public transport. The outdoor areas of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have been open for some time, but not buildings or greenhouses. Visitors are required to book a time slot for arrival in advance, but can stay for as long as they wish once within the grounds. Kew Gardens, Arts Industry (Ironbridge Gorge), Ironbridge Gorge (film introducing reopening) Guardian (National Gallery), RAF museum
Tate sites plan reopening for late July with 30% of previous visitors
Tate Modern and Tate Britain will reopen in late July, and expect an estimated 30% of previous visitor numbers, given the constraints of social distancing. Director Maria Balshaw says that one way of making up for lost revenue will be through prolonging exhibitions, though she adds “along with the whole of the cultural sector we will be facing a really significant financial challenge. We won’t know the scale of that until we reopen, and the situation is changing on a weekly basis.”ARTnews, The Art Newspaper
The bear-whale : Oxford Museum of Natural History reveals its architectural secrets on its 160th birthday
Meanwhile the Oxford University Museum of Natural is celebrating its 160th birthday with a short film about its magnificent architecture, including a carving of a bear-whale, initially created to mock Darwin’s theory of evolution, now a reminder of how the institution got it wrong, permanently set in stone. The museum is expected to reopen in September, with an exact date to be published in the next few weeks. OUMNH
Museum rates, taxation and business interruption insurance
Exeter City Council wins landmark victory on rateable value of RAMM museum buildings
Exeter City Council has won its long-running court case, establishing the rateable value of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. As a result of the case, the rateable value will be set at £1, backdated to April 2015; its previous rateable value was £445,000. The latest round of litigation began when the Valuation Office appealed against a ruling made in August 2018 in favour of Exeter City Council, leading to its case being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice. The Valuation Office has now been refused any further appeals. The result should have implications for many other museums, which will now also be able to drastically reduce their rates payments. Councillor Rachel Sutton said “like all other local authorities, Exeter is facing huge financial challenges and the new rateable value will represent a substantial saving at a critical time… our hope all along was that this judgement would also benefit other museums and the communities they serve. We are extremely grateful to ACE and NMDC. Without their support this landmark case would have been too costly for us, as a district council, to pursue.” NMDC Chair and SMG Director Sir Ian Blatchford said: “This ruling is excellent news for museum colleagues who have waited years for a definitive judgement on a long standing issue. Many of the museum valuation cases that are currently paused in anticipation of this result will hopefully now progress to sensible conclusions. Too much time and energy has been wasted already. We applaud our colleagues in Exeter their efforts and endurance to reach such a significant outcome for the sector.”RAMM, Museums Journal
Museum organisations ask Government to use new insolvency laws to protect museums collections
The Collections Trust, AIM and MA have called for the Government to use the recent Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 to protect museum collections when holding bodies go into administration. Usually, when any organisation including a charity goes into administration, the receiver must treat all holdings as financial assets to be maximised for creditors. To avoid collections ending up in 'fire sales' the group says that the Government could bring in further regulations under statutory instrument, offering temporary protections, and giving sector bodies time to intervene. Collections Trust, Legislation.gov.uk
On average, charities are expecting to lose about a quarter of their income over the next year. In response, group of charities and sector bodies have produced a Gift Aid Emergency Relief paper, asking for Gift Aid on donations to be increased from a quarter to a third. UK Fundraising
Art world brings a class action against insurance companies in business interruption claim
A number of art world organisations are pursuing a class-action lawsuit against insurers which have so far refused to pay out against insurance plans for business interruption. Since Covid-19 became a notifiable disease on 5th March, policies covering ‘notifiable human contagious or infectious disease’ would appear to allow claims, but this has not been accepted by the insurance industry. 50 organisations, including contemporary art galleries, museums and sole traders (which did not want to be named in Art Newspaper reporting) are seeking recompense ranging from £50k to £35m in a ‘no win, no fee’ action supported by the law firm Charles Russell Speechlys. The Foundling Museum in London is also considering a business interruption claim. Director Caro Howard said “this collaborative approach offers a potentially invaluable route for the museums and heritage sector, particularly for independent museums who rely heavily on commercial activities such as venue hire and retail. For organisations like ours, whose trading income has been decimated by the pandemic, the possibility of an insurance claim could offer a valuable lifeline.” Meanwhile the Financial Conduct Authority is reviewing insurer responses to business interruption claims, holding out the possibility that insurers will be required to change their approach. Findings are due to be published at the end of July. The Art Newspaper, Financial Conduct Authority
Fall of Colston statue focuses debate on the past and present of black history and modern racism
Events in early June, when some Bristol protestors for Black Lives Matter pulled down and dumped a statue of 18th century slaver Edward Colston in Bristol dock, have focused attention both on who is represented in the public realm, how museums deal with the legacy of slavery and empire, ongoing issues of decolonisation and the under-representation of BAME people in the history sector. Responding to the damage to the Grade II monument, no museum or person in public office has condoned the manner of the statue’s removal, but many have pointed to the failure of a long public process to either remove it by legitimate means, or replace an inscription which still described Colston as ‘one of the most virtuous and wise sons of the city’.
Calling for the statue to be put on display at MShed, Bristol, Mayor Martin Rees said that the decision is “part of an historical moment… [but] this is not condoning criminal damage… it is up to us to make sure that we record this moment for future generations to understand the journey Bristol has gone on.” Also responding to the removal, Historic England said “statues can offend but we cannot support deliberate damage to historic monuments. We believe that the best course of action is to provide as much information as possible about these monuments – their history and the context in which they were erected.” Historian David Olusoga has commented extensively on the events, saying that the statue should have been removed much earlier. He also warned against getting trapped in an engineered culture war over statues rather than substantive issues: “if forced to choose between a proper national debate on racism or the statue wars, which is it to be?” He added that “heroic figurative statuary is a dated form of memorialisation. What tends to energise our imagination in the 21st century are not bronze effigies of the great and the good, but innovative public art.” Meanwhile, Lea Ypi offers the long view, reflecting on the removal of statues of the dictator Enver Hoxha in Albania 30 years ago, arguing that “focusing only on whether statues should stay or go obscures how unjust histories are still borne by current structures” – he says that unless countries also revisit curriculums and how history is told, the inequalities some historic figures embody will comfortably survive their removal from public space. Guardian (Olusoga – statue wars), Guardian (Olusoga, Colston), Guardian (Albania), The Art Newspaper, The Art Newspaper (Bristol Mayor comment), English Heritage (statement), MShed, Independent
International Slavery Museum describes its role in the light of Colston and #BLM
Richard Benjamin, Director of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool has been discussing the aftermath of the Colston statue felling and the role of his museum to The Art Newspaper podcast. He said that while he did not condone the forcible removal of Colston, it came against a background of a failure to progress the issue through legitimate means, adding “I have to say that the statue itself became more interesting to me as a museum director once it had been thrown in the dock, because I thought then that there was a much broader narrative that one could tell. You’re not advocating that, but was the statue of any interest to us physically, the answer to that is no: it was the narrative and discussion around it… you’re not erasing history, you’re expanding people’s understanding of it.” He said his museum has for a few years been part of an international network discussing issues including statues and street names – having recently had informal discussions with groups from Hamburg and Glasgow, as well as a longstanding relationship with the Smithsonian. He says that what is represented in the public realm, modern racism and under-representation of black people in the museum sector are all interlinked and need addressing together. He hopes that a long-delayed development project which will increase the museum’s profile will now take off, adding that the International Slavery Museum is well-placed to offer leadership: “people need to realise how globally important we are as a museum, people come to us to follow the journey we have been on.”Art Newspaper
Also: The Mary Rose Museum has accepted the resignation of the David Starkey from its Board after his racist comments on a YouTube broadcast. It was among a number of institutions which has severed links with the historian. Art Newspaper
Bristol museums conserve Colston statue, as consultation on its future is planned
Ray Barnett, Head of Collections and Archives at Bristol Culture has commented on future plans for the statue of Colston. He said “The statue of Colston which was tipped into Bristol Docks on 7 June was retrieved by Bristol City Council and has been moved to a location in the city so that museum conservators can dry it out and stabilise it. Banners and signs from the Black Lives Matter protest were also collected and have been photographed and catalogued. The Mayor of Bristol has indicated that it is likely that the statue and banners will be displayed in one of the city's museums but that consultation with the community will also be taking place to ensure the best solution is found. The museum team are prepared to help create such a display as part of their remit is to reflect historic and contemporary issues in the city, as demonstrated in particular at M Shed museum. The protest around the statue and Black Lives Matter have become a very significant aspect of life in the city and indeed around the world, one which the we wish to fully reflect.” Fran Coles of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is now working to conserve the statue and described its state to BBC’s Front Row – including the discovery of a magazine from the 1890s within. The conservation is being carried out to retain the red paint thrown on the statue during the protest. Bristol Museums, BBC Radio 4 (from 17mins 30)
Mayor announces Commission to consider representation in London’s landmarks
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, aimed at diversifying who is represented in the capital’s landmarks including BAME and LGBTQ+ communities, women and disabled people. Despite London’s diversity, its statues, plaques and street names largely reflect Victorian Britain. The Mayor has previously expressed support for a broader spectrum of memorials in the capital, including to Stephen Lawrence, the Windrush generation, a museum or memorial remembering slavery and a national Sikh war memorial. The Commission will also consider landmarks currently in place, discuss which legacies should be celebrated, and recommend practices and standards. Sadiq Khan said “our capital’s diversity is our greatest strength, yet our statues, road names and public spaces reflect a bygone era. It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade and while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been wilfully ignored. This cannot continue. We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is – that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated.”Art Newspaper, Mayor of London, Art Newspaper,
Also: Two statues are to be erected outside Hackney Town Hall next year, to honour the Windrush generation. Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said “it’s not an answer to the statue conversation, but I think it’s an early down payment on righting some of that wrong, and a chance to see more diverse people represented in a public realm”. Arts Industry, The Art Newspaper
Virtual Classrooms: How to build a digital approach for September
GEM is offering a webinar on how to run events with schools unable to visit museums on site. The event will be led by Frances Jeens of the Jewish Museum who will describe the audience research, build and delivery of its Virtual Classrooms approach. This programme was developed during lockdown but will continue to be part of the museum’s permanent offer. The event is free for GEM members and £5 for non-members; it takes place on 8th July from 10 – 11am. GEM
MA conference goes virtual for 2020 - and is free with membership
The MA has decided to postpone its Edinburgh conference and is instead offering an event in digital format through the week of 2nd November. Participation is free for all members of the MA. Museums Journal
In an age that is addicted to short-term thinking, whether that’s the next quarterly report or election cycle, how can we plan for long term challenges like climate change and pandemics? This event brings together three speakers with a track record in thinking further ahead – Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics, public philosopher Roman Krznaric and cultural thinker Brian Eno. They will point to examples of long-termism, ‘cathedral thinking’ and the seventh generation thinking of indigenous peoples, as well as looking at the neuroscience that might be harnessed to change how we plan. The event will be broadcast on 23rd July and is free, with a suggested donation of £5. Salon London
‘No Going Back’ – the ‘bioregional’ approach to redesigning museum work
Happy Museum is running a series of events to consider how to build back museums with a different set of priorities in the light of major change events such as Covld-19 and Black Lives Matter. It argues that the metrics used to measure success for years, especially ever-growing footfall – have not been in line with sustainability and have overlooked social justice. The first event covers the topic of museums as places to connect the local and global, with speakers including Isabel Carlisle of the Bioregional Learning Centre and Clare Cooper of the Cateran Ecomuseum. The event takes place online on 10th July from 2pm. Tickets are free. NB: This event is close to being sold out, but a recording will be available to all afterwards via the Happy Museum website. Happy Museum
Apply to Culture Reset to reimagine the future of arts and culture
Culture Reset is a practical rapid response programme, to help 192 arts and cultural producers, makers and directors develop more relevant and impactful practice. All participants will leave the three-month programme with an expert peer-reviewed action plan to reset their cultural approach. Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the programme is seeking cultural workers, from museum professionals to theatre makers, library managers, writers or artists who want to be part of the transformation of the sector in which they work. The deadline for applications is 9th July and the programme itself runs from 20th July – 11th September. Applicants are particularly welcome from outside urban centres, from under-represented communities and are welcome from anyone freelance, furloughed or currently unemployed. Culture Reset
ICOM event: post-Covid-19 – reopening museums around the world
A recording is available of ICOM’s event on the global reopening of museums, created in partnership with NMDC. The event is chaired by Duncan Dornan, Head of Museums and Collections at Glasgow Life, with speakers Dr Ambika Bipin Patel, Professor & Head Museology, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, Nicola Mah of the ICOM Singapore Secretariat, Bryan Robertson, National Galleries Scotland and Jolanta Gumula, Deputy Director, Polin Museum, Warsaw.ICOM (YouTube recording)
Be a Trustee event – with bursaries for low income and under-represented groups
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy is running a virtual training course on the responsibilities, financial obligations and fundraising expectations for Trustees of arts and cultural organisations. It is particularly keen to attract demographics currently under-represented on boards. 2019 research by NCVO found that seven out of ten trustees are men with a median age of 61 and only 0.5% of trustees are aged 18 – 24. Other data shows that 2.9% of trustees are women of colour. Tickets for the event are £62 - £67+VAT, however there are £10 tickets available for those from under-represented groups or who would struggle to pay the full fee. Arts Fundraising, NCVO, NfpSynergy
Reopening webinars – from tourism to e-commerce and catering
The Association of Cultural Enterprises is offering a series of webinars on reopening (both recordings of past events and future broadcasts). Topics centre around commercial aspects of running a venue, ranging from legal issues, tourism, catering and e-commerce, events and hire as well as how to keep customers and staff safe. Association for Cultural Enterprises
VisitBritain is offering a series of recovery webinars through July and August exploring how businesses serving tourists can adapt. Topics include speaking to customers in a post-covid world, using travel technology, looking at additional ways to support accessibility and addressing sustainability and overtourism, asking how the sector can ‘reset the dial’ as it reopens. VisitBritain, VisitBritain (general reopening resources)
Digital Boost site helps small businesses and charities develop digital skills
DCMS is promoting a new resource, Digital Boost, which offers free digital advice for small businesses and charities that have been impacted by coronavirus, provided by expert volunteers. Options include speaking one-to-one with a digital expert, workshops on topics including SEO and payment systems and a library of online learning content. Digital Boost
AIM has made available most recordings from its recent ‘Road to Recovery’ virtual conference with speakers including Tate Director Maria Balshaw on dealing with uncertainty and ALVA’s Bernard Donoghue, addressing both visitor sentiment and reopening plans alongside reflections on the tensions between nostalgia, history and the need to diversify the sector. AIM
Museum Toliets: creating clean, safe and accessible spaces
The Museum Toilets twitter feed captures an issue which is now among the top public concerns as venues reopen. It recently held a webinar on how to address the issue, which remains available online. Museum Toilets (twitter feed), Museum Toilets (webinar)
VisitScotland webinars discuss marketing for reopening - and a period of more localised tourism
VisitScotland has published a series of webinars, discussing how Scotland is approaching reopening, with many lessons applicable across the UK. Its Director of Marketing & Digital Vicki Miller explains how the body will encourage people back in stages – first inviting Scots to explore their own area, with encouragement of UK tourists not likely to begin until the autumn, and with a mindfulness of the wishes of rural communities. Like many places across Europe, Scotland is also considering how the pause can be used to address problematic over-tourism to some areas, with recovery based around more balanced models.
Discussing ‘the new normal’ Senior Tourism Insight Manager, Chris Greenwood said that he anticipates more contactless, pre-planned and curated travel, with bookings for everything from restaurants to visitor attractions where tourists would have previously just turn up. Online booking will also allow venues to spread pent-up demand over a period. The Scottish Government seems open to the idea of regionally specific re-opening; especially in places like the Outer Hebrides which has no cases of covid, and need to balance economic benefit with social impact. Greenwood suggests that as flights resume, airlines will favour models that deliver passengers directly to a destination, without changing at hubs like London, and conceivably there will be a market for ‘self isolation’ holidays in remote cottages. However, even before the virus, visitors were thinking more deeply about their carbon footprint and the number of holidays abroad: hence there is an overlap between the necessity for more localised tourist destinations, and decisions that some consumers were making anyway. He expects the adaptation period to continue for another six to 18 months, whether the ultimate result is a vaccine or permanent change to social patterns. VisitScotland (marketing recovery), VisitScotland (the new normal), VisitScotland (the recovery of tourism), VisitScotland (impact on the events business), VisitScotland (current advice from the Scottish Government)
'We're Good to Go' industry standard and mark launched for tourism sector
VisitBritain has launched a new UK-wide industry standard for tourism businesses, signalling when a venue is adhering to Government and public health guidance, and is safe to visit. The scheme is free to join. Organisations must first fill in an online self-assessment, before receiving certification and the 'We're Good To Go' mark for display at their site and online. Necessities for museums and galleries wishing to meet the standard include timed tickets, one way systems and regular deep cleaning. Visit Britain, Gov.uk, (full govt guidance on reopening tourist attractions)
Break from the madding crowd? – balancing locals and tourism for the future
The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam reopened on 1st June, receiving 750 visitors over a six hour day, dramatically down on its 6,000 a day previous footfall. It is also reorienting to a local public, in a place previously mostly attracting tourists. Its first visitor, Emma Oveheul told the New York Times “in the last years there were always such huge groups of people, now is a good opportunity to be here without all the enormous crowds.” Her view reflects a wider discussion about tourist and local needs across Europe. In Venice, there has been a socially-distanced protest event by locals, opposing a new pier which would bring even more boatloads of those whose presence in the city lasts for just a few hours. Campaigners there want a new paradigm which encourages different kinds of tourism: more art lovers to museum and heritage sites and more students to study and then stay and make a home, rather than huge crowds of cursory visitors. These concerns are balanced against the economic advantages of what is now a huge industry: in The Guardian Neal E Robbins records that before Covid-19, tourism was the largest sector on the planet, supplying one in 11 jobs. The 25 million tourists who travelled the world in 1950 were projected to grow to 1.8bn international arrivals in 2030. Robbins argues that now people should be encouraged to become more mindful about where they visit: “we need to end our passivity as tourists and see destinations as people’s homes, not just attractions. We should acquaint ourselves with local conditions and be ready to refrain from travelling if authorities listen only to monied interests and fail to foster local livelihoods and protect the local environment.” The contraction of tourism presents huge economic problems for many venues, but as in Scotland’s emerging plans, a change in approach may also offer opportunities for some destinations able to present themselves as offering authenticity and balance. New York Times, Guardian (Venice), CBC (Rome), New York Times (Van Gogh museum)
Europa Nostra has opened its annual awards for applications, and museums in the UK are welcome to apply during the transition year. The four areas covered by the awards are conservation, research, dedicated service and education, training and awareness raising. There is no entry charge, and two webinars during July will cover both how to apply for the awards, and the case study of a recent winner, the Iron Bridge conservation project at Ironbridge Gorge. Europa Nostra, Europa Nostra (upcoming webinars)
M + H Awards shortlist announced including new Sustainable Project category
The shortlist for the M + H Awards has been announced, including in the new Sustainable Project of Year, where the six finalists include IWM which has created the first Museum Passivhaus storage building in the UK, the Museum of Oxford which used mostly borrowed and reused materials to create its 'Queering Spires' temporary exhibition and the National Trust's Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant climate adaptation project, which used a pump from the river Wybrnant to generate electricity and reduce humidity in an historic farmhouse. There are more than 14 other categories - the winners in each one will be announced in September this year at a virtual event. M + H
A France-based not for profit has launched its new Arts Explora Award, offering three prizes worth €150,000 in total, to support innovative projects that increase access to the arts and culture, especially those focusing on inclusion of disabled, young and excluded groups. The fund is particularly keen to hear of approaches which use digital, and control environmental impact. There is no entry fee, and organisations from across Europe and including the UK can apply. The prizes are available both for existing projects that need expansion, or new ones which can be launched with the prize money. The closing date for applications is 25th September, and there will be an award ceremony at the Institut de France later in the autumn. Arts Explora, Arts Explora, M + H
ACE and universities seek to rebrand arts and humanities as 'Shape' subjects
In a plan to give back weight to arts, social sciences and humanities subjects, ACE and universities are rebranding them as 'Shape', standing for 'social sciences, humanities & the arts for people & the economy', contrasting with the popular term STEM for science and maths based subjects. One architect of the plan Julia Black, professor of law at the London School of Economics (LSE) says "the humanities can sometimes be dismissed as ‘soft subjects’ and not given the same credit, which matters when it comes to basic education and to funding research. They can be a bit of a blind spot and that is damaging.” Former ACE Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette also supports the scheme, and criticised “a growing trend in government to judge the success of a course by the salaries earned on graduation."Guardian, Guardian
Proposals to open local museums as school spaces to aid reopening
The My Primary School is at the Museum project piloted using local museum sites as the full-time home for primary school classes for up to 11 weeks, using collections as a route to teaching across the curriculum, including maths to history and science. Now organisers are suggesting that it is a model whose time has come – with the potential for museums to offer schools vital additional space to reopen while observing social distancing – and providing income to museums in the form of ‘rent’ from the Government for the space, allowing them to survive and be useful, despite a collapse in traditional visitors. Although there are precedents for schools spreading out into other public spaces – in Copenhagen children are currently using the Telia Parken Football Stadium for classes – museums additionally have the capacity to enhance learning, with many practical issues already addressed by the pilot. MPSM is also conducting a short survey (link below) to help develop the plan. My Primary School is at the Museum, MPSM (toolkit), MPSM (survey)
Art Fund reveals new and adapted funding, including £1.5m ‘respond and reimagine’ grants
The Art Fund has announced its new adapted funding programme, designed to support museums, galleries and their workforces through the coronavirus. Strands are as follows:
‘Respond and reimagine grants’ are now open for applications, with £10k - £50k available per project, and up to 100% of funding covered. These funds could cover immediate support for staff, equipment and training for those reopening, and for reimagining what happens next – including trying out riskier projects which may or may not work out as planned. The Art Fund intends to distribute £1.5m through this fund during 2020. The first round closes 7th July, with decisions by 31st July; the second closes 17th August (decision 21st September) and the third 12th October (decision 9th November).
A partnership with the Museum Development Network will distribute £280k in support to museums that have not yet received public funding and smaller museums fulfilling specific local needs.
£150k supports the newly-created Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring, to programme co-curated collections-based exhibitions to tour nationally.
A £35k collaboration with Clore Leadership will help professionals to build skills.
Existing Small Project Grants and Professional Network Grants have been topped up with an additional £250k for quick-turnaround support to help museums reach audiences, build digital infrastructure and develop professional networks.
Art Fund’s Director Jenny Waldman said “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.”Art Fund (overview), Art Fund (respond and reimagine)
Small businesses at tourist destinations can apply for up to £5k in support from a new £10m Kick Starting tourism package, drawn from the European Regional Development Fund. The fund can be used for a broad range of interventions including new technology, legal or financial advice, online systems or new equipment. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (announcement)
ACE has announced that its rolling National Lottery Project Grants programme, suspended for months because of the Covid-19 emergency, will reopen on 22nd July with a budget of £59.8 million available until April 2021. It will aim for quick decisions and distribution, given the needs of independent organisations, artists and freelancers in the current climate. The requirement for 10% match funding with be abolished, and the fund will be divided 50:50 between organisations and individuals, as some programmes aimed at individuals remain unavailable. There will also an external advice giving programme to help the fund reach a wider group of applicants. ACE
MGS part of £497k sector resilience and sustainability training programme
NLHF has given £497k for an 18 month long resilience programme for heritage organisations and businesses in Scotland, delivered by a partnership between Museums Galleries Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland and greenspace scotland. It will be focused around four issues: board development, community engagement, financial planning, and business resilience and will look to produce immediate and long-term impacts. The programme aims to upskill up to 80 people from up to 40 organisations. MGS (overview), MGS (expression of interest survey.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced an extension to its £50m Heritage Emergency Fund with a deadline running until 31st July. It has two tiers:
Grants of £3k - £50k to cover costs for the next four months to help organisations become more stable, as well as to make longer term plans.
Grants of £50k - £250k, again to cover costs for four months and longer term planning, but for organisations significantly funded by NLHF in the past which can point to contributions to the local community.
MGS offers reopening grants from its new Covid-19 Adaptation Fund
Museums Galleries Scotland has announced a new £332k Covid-19 Adaptation Fund that will help museums to adapt with items such as PPE, cleaning equipment and screens for safe reopening. £62.7k of the fund has been contributed by the Art Fund. Accredited museums can apply for up to £7.5k, non-accredited museums up to £1.5k and partnerships £10k.
MGS is also working with Scotland Excel to enable museums to access the procurement contracts they provide to all Scottish local authorities. This will allow museums to buy direct from listed suppliers with no minimum order: contact [email protected] for details. MGS, Scotland Excel, Museums Journal
Also: The Art Newspaper has been assessing whether the Covid-19 shift by trusts, foundations and sector funding bodies from supporting capital projects to offering unrestricted funds, will have a long-term effect on major building projects. The Art Newspaper
The Wolfson Foundation has awarded the Paisley Museum, Scotland with £200k towards its £42m regeneration project which is part of a wider culture-led regeneration of the town. The National
An analysis of how ACE spent its £70m Emergency Response Package shows that of 13,700 applicants, 73.2% of individuals and 64.6% of organisational requests received support. It includes £2.3m given to small museums, with grants to 103 non-portfolio museums ranging from £1k - £35k. Arts Professional, Museum Journal
The Scottish Government has given a £1m interest free loan to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which will be paid back over six years. The Edinburgh Fringe is worth £200m to the Scottish economy, but the Fringe Society said that it was ‘facing insolvency’ without a rescue package. Arts Professional
‘Finding the motivation cliff edge’ – making it easier to give difficult times
The Digital Works podcast has been speaking to David Burgess of Apollo Fundraising about how to fundraise during Covid-19 and who is doing it well or badly. Burgess argues that giving can be a way of individuals to take back control despite restrictions, and that this may not be a bad time to ask, especially if organisations are prepared to reveal their vulnerable side. However, he says that too many cultural organisations make it difficult to impulse-give small amounts – and do not put a donation button with an easy process next to the vast amount of digital content currently being given away for free. He says that many will fall off the ‘motivation cliff edge’ if the barriers to giving are too high. Elsewhere, the New Policy Institute reports that although many potential small donors are themselves in financial difficulty, this is not the case for everyone - the richest 20% of the population have been saving during lockdown, possibly by as much as a collective £23bn. Digital Works, Guardian
Growing market for craft finds outlet in museum shops
The Crafts Council reports that there is a growing interest in craft products, with 73% of adults buying a craft object in 2019, comprising a total of nearly 25 million. In a significant shift, 32% of buyers are under 35. Some of this resurgence is attributed to e-commerce sites like Etsy, but 21% of face-to-face buyers purchasing through a museum or gallery shop, and 21% of online buyers bought through museum or gallery online sites. Average spend on craft items is relatively high, averaging at over £100 per item for most consumer segments. There is also an overlap in approach between craft makers and museums in seeking to provide activity sessions which take visitors behind the scenes of how to make and conserve objects. In showcasing unique, often local items from craftspeople, museums have the potential to develop a profitable line, which reflects growing public interest in sustainability and a reaction against the throwaway society. Crafts Council (full report), Museums Journal
The Government has placed an export bar on the marble figures of two Celtic hounds, excavated from the villa of the Emperor Antinous in the 1790s. Only two other similar sets are known to have survived antiquity. The asking price is £2m + VAT and the bar initially extends to 2nd October. Gov.uk
Around a third of public ‘comfortable’ in museums and indoor space
An Ipsos Mori poll published in early July shows that 49% of the public are ‘not very’ or ‘not at all comfortable’ with visiting a museum or indoor exhibition at present. 34% say they do feel comfortable, less than the 51% comfortable visiting regular shops or 40% going to hairdressers. However, museum visits are more popular than bars and restaurants (60% uncomfortable), cinemas and theatres (59%). Similarly, a survey in Scotland showed that 51% of the public had concerns that ‘might’ or ‘definitely will’ affect how they return to cultural venues. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal (Scotinform survey)
ALVA attractions recovery tracker shows younger visitors quicker to return
The third wave of the tracker run by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions shows that 10% of usual attraction visitors, or around 4 million people, have already made a visit as lockdown has eased, typically to country parks and gardens. Positive publicity around the reopening of zoos has also increased public confidence. Early returners have been more likely to be young (16 – 34) and include those who aren’t usually visitors, including locals seeking a change of scene. Deterrents to visiting include fears about how other visitors will behave, and anxiety about toilets in particular; the ‘advanced booking only’ feature has a positive effect in persuading people that sites will be well-controlled and not overcrowded. AIM
Taking Part statistics explore lockdown cultural activity - from exercise near heritage sites to virtual museum tours
DCMS has been tracking how people have been engaging with its sectors during the pandemic through its Taking Part statistics. Covering a fortnight in mid-May, the figures show that a tenth have used a place with heritage associations to take exercise, 7.4% have taken a virtual tour of a museum or gallery and 3.8% have researched items from a museum or gallery collection online. Half have taken part in artistic activities at home and 8.4% have watched a live arts event online. Gov.uk
Creative activities during lockdown: up among under 30s, but down among those living alone
Dr Daisy Fancourt has described some of the first results of UCL’s research into creativity for wellbeing during lockdown to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. She said that the study, now following 90,000 people found that 95% were engaging in some creative activity, most commonly listening to music, with two thirds reading fiction and 20% singing. Two thirds say their use of the arts has not changed, but 22% report an increase, notably the under 30s possibly because they now have more time. However, people also turn to the arts when going through stress, financial problems and job loss, and the study shows promising evidence that it acts as a coping mechanism. However, there is also a decrease of 26% in the use of arts among those living alone. Fancourt says this is a challenge for the sector and should shape a sense of who will need more targeting. BBC (from 13.30 mins), Covid Social Study
Historic Royal Palaces expects to ‘exhaust reserves’ this year
Historic Royal Palaces has revealed that it currently has £33m in reserves, but expects to exhaust these this year. It released a statement which said “in common with all museums and heritage sites, we have lost nearly all of our income for the past three months. Since we’re dependent on international tourism – two thirds of our annual visitors are international – we expect our recovery to be slow.”Museums Journal
DCMS committee hears about impact of Covid-19 on arts and culture
The DCMS committee has been hearing evidence of the impact of Covid-19 on cultural sectors, beginning with music and theatre, forms which have struggled the most to find a model that allows them to operate. Although facing different circumstances to museums, the interrogation of what can and can’t be monetised digitally is a question that arises across culture. Issues discussed include:
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of UK theatre said that although some performances have been streamed, filming them in the first place had only been viable through the profits from long live runs. The donations arising from streamed shows of old performances have been relatively tiny – digital alone therefore does not offer a route to sustaining the industry, which will need supporting for longer than other sectors that will be ready to reopen when lockdown lifts. Consistently across commercial and subsidised models of theatre, 70% said they will have exhausted reserves and be facing closure by Christmas. Many will have to decide by early August whether they can put on Christmas shows.
Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union said that because of the way music is now monetised, bands that can command £10 - £15k per festival gig are now penniless because they earn so little from the streaming of their music. He suggested that this model needs to shift, so that this type of cultural asset is profitable at a social distance, as it has been in the past.
A significant number of freelancers in the sector work with a mixture of casual PAYE and freelance contracts which mean that they are not eligible for any of the Government support schemes. Many have not been paid since March and are at risk of exiting the sector.
Also: The Berliner Ensemble theatre group has released pictures of its auditorium modified for social distancing, with all but 200 of its 700 seats removed. However, it’s not clear how the new plans will work economically. Dezeen
NCA’s Chair says arts sector faced coronavirus with ‘no fat left to cut’
The National Campaign for the Arts has published its annual Art Index, which has tracked the heath of the sector since 2007 across a variety of metrics. It shows that local government funding is down by 43% since 2008, business contributions are down a third since 2012 and philanthropic giving has dropped 10% in three years. Cultural organisations have, however become increasingly adept at generating earned income, rising 47% in the decade from 2007 – 8. However, NCA Chair Sam West says that this left a sector with ‘no fat left’ when faced with shutdown: “it’s bitterly ironic that the arts sector’s resourceful response to the 2008 financial crash is now the very thing that makes it vulnerable to the Covid-19 crisis, with theatres closed and income from tickets and bars dropping off a cliff.” Evening Standard, NCA (full report), Arts Professional, NCA (introduction), Arts Industry, Museums Journal
LGA advises local authorities to write a cultural strategy
The Local Government Association is encouraging local authorities to write a cultural strategy, arguing that culture is the ‘glue that brings and keeps our communities together’. Shortly before lockdown, it published ‘Cultural Strategy in a box’ as a guide through the process, including issues such as auditing and valuing distinctive local assets and how to form strategic partnerships with bodies including ACE or individual cultural institutions. LGA
Displaying collections online: tips for smaller museums
The Collections Trust has brought together a number of affordable ways to display collections online, aimed at smaller museums - from albums to audio descriptions and podcasts to timelines. Each comes with examples of how various options have been deployed by cultural organisations. Collections Trust,
Design competition asks how museums should be reimagined to address climate
AHRC has launched a new international design competition, seeking ideas that will reimagine museums so that they can help society move to a low carbon future and deal with the effects of climate change, given their unique potential to help societies address feelings of loss, insecurity and hope in positive ways. The competition is open to everyone from architects and designers to museum professionals, academics and the general public. Eight finalists will receive £2.5k to further develop their idea for display at Glasgow Science Centre, ahead of and during the delayed COP26 meeting, which will now take place in November 2021. The deadline for competition entries is 15th September 2020. AHRC, Museums for Climate Action
Julie’s Bicycle open letter calls for ‘just and green cultural recovery’
In an open letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, environmental and cultural consultants Julie’s Bicycle have asked for a cultural recovery that addresses equality and environmental issues. It points out that the £111.7bn sector is larger than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, oil and gas industries combined and as well as attracting tourism has been a world leader in addressing environmental issues. ACE has undertaken the largest programme of environmental literacy anywhere, and is the first to make addressing sustainability a condition of funding. Its specific requests include that larger organisations should adopt science-based net-zero pathways; that specific R&D funds are reserved for cultural organisations; a focus on communities, inclusion and place-making and a Government task force on green creative skills. 750 organisations and leaders have so far signed the letter, including Tate Director Maria Balshaw, Alexandra Palace CEO Louise Stewart, Richard Mantle of GM Opera North and also NMDC. Julie’s Bicycle (letter), Julie’s Bicycle (complete list of signatories), Museums Journal
Also: English Heritage reports that since Stonehenge closed to visitors in March, a family of hares has set up home at the site, alongside grazing deer. Chief Executive Kate Mavor says ‘in some ways it is rather nice to remember that it does sit within a landscape’. Guardian