ACE and NLHF Recovery Funds: up to £3m in grants or limitless loans
The £1.57bn announced last month by Government to support culture and the creative industries has now been devolved to grant-giving bodies, including NLHF, Historic England and ACE. There will be a first round of £622m available now, with a remaining £258m to be shared across grant bodies in a second round later in the year.
In the current round, ACE will oversee £500m of support to arts and cultural institutions, including museums and performing arts venues but not libraries. Detail is as follows:
Grants are available from £50k - £3m.
A loan scheme is also available at 2% interest, with a four year payment holiday and 20 year term, which will be announced in full on 10th
Organisations can apply for a grant or a loan, but not both – and sums over £3m are only available as loans, with no upper limit.
ACE’s first funding round is open from 10th August with a deadline of 21st August, and the second round runs from 21st August – 4th It is anticipated that 75% of grants are likely to be given in round one.
The NLHF and Historic England are administering a £92m Recovery Fund to distribute between them for heritage, offering individual grants of £10k - £3m. The funding must be spent by 31st March 2021 on either essential overheads, becoming more resilient in future or testing and consulting on activities to diversify income streams. Non-accredited museums are welcome to apply for these funds, as are conservators, contractors, specialists and suppliers. Applicants for up to £1m will know whether their bid has been successful by the end of September.
BFI will also be administering a £30m fund for the film industry. A Cultural Recovery Board chaired by Damon Buffini and including Chairs of ACE, HE, NLHF and BFI, Neil Mendoza and Emma Squire, and will make decisions on applications above £1m. Museums Journal, NLHF (Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage) NLHF (detail), BFI, M + H
£54m in recovery grants for the Welsh cultural sector
The Welsh Government is distributing £54m to cultural organisations including museums and heritage sites, in partnership with the Arts Council of Wales. Full details of the distribution of these funds is being finalised, and a grant programme should open in mid-August. The MA recently gave evidence to the Senedd about the impact of Covid-19 on the museum sector in Wales, and has called for museums to receive a ‘strategic and equitable’ share. Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales said “with many arts organisations facing the imminent threat of insolvency, and freelancers struggling to see when they’ll secure their next paid work, these funds ease the immediate threat of a collapse in the creative sector.”Welsh Government, Arts Council of Wales, Museums Journal, Museums Journal
£4m Museums Resilience and Recovery Fund for Scottish museums
The Scottish Government has launched a £4m Museums Resilience and Recovery Fund to support the independent museum sector in recovering from Covid-19, especially around un-furloughing staff and reopening. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said “sadly, many of these wonderful institutions are now at a critical juncture in making decisions about whether they can afford to reopen, looking at possible redundancies, cancelling events and putting off critical repairs. I am pleased to announce this much needed support for the sector to help them get through the rest of the financial year.” MGS will be administering the fund and hopes to launch it as soon as possible. Scottish Government, MGS, Museums Journal
National museums reopen across the UK – inviting early returners to enjoy collections without the crowds
The V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum are among those reopening this month. Pre-booking will be necessary and it is anticipated that visitor numbers will be down by around 80%. Natural History Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon said that “this is a fantastic opportunity to experience all three of our museums without crowds”. He added “we think that demand will outstrip supply, but that's a guess because we're in a period of mass uncertainty at the moment”. Only the Science Museum will be open seven days per week, and all three will find it more costly to open than remain shut, but will survive this financial year through the Government’s £1.57bn support package, described by Science Museum Director and Chair of the National Museums Directors' Council, Sir Ian Blatchford as ‘resoundingly good’. However, he added that he did not expect normality to return until Spring 2022.
National Museums Scotland has begun opening some sites, with the National Museum of Scotland due to reopen on 19th August. There will be timed tickets and cafés and shops will also be open, although taking only cashless payments. Meanwhile Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales has been opening sites since 4th August. It has been losing £400k per month during closure and is not expecting to recover costs on reopening due to the limits of social distancing. National Museums Northern Ireland sites began opening with Ulster Museum on 30th July and is implementing an 'access for all' strategy with dedicated booking slots for older people, and people with special educational needs, among others. Two National Museums Liverpool sites were among the earliest to open, alongside the National Gallery and Wallace Collection. Guardian, Museums Journal, NMS, NML, Museums Journal (NI) NMNI
NHM’s ‘tiny meteorite’ is heading back to Mars to give useful data to Perseverance robot
A meteorite which was blasted from Mars, landed on earth 700,000 years ago and has been cared for by the Natural History Museum since 2000, is now being sent back on a seven month journey to Mars during 2020. The piece of basalt, about the size of a ten pence piece, will be delivered to the US Perseverance Rover, which will then use it to calibrate its detectors as it searches for signs of past life on the planet. NHM’s Principal Curator of Meteorites, Professor Caroline Smith said “Every year, we provide hundreds of meteorite specimens to scientists all over the world to study. But this is a first for us: sending one of our samples approximately 100 million km away back home, to further our knowledge of Mars.”Guardian, Telegraph, NHM (meteorites on display), NHM (Mars mission)
Art Fund plans five winners and a shared prize of £200k for Museum of the Year
The Art Fund has increased the prize for its annual Museum of the Year award by 40% to £200k and has announced that it will be shared between five winners. The decision is in response to the problems and financial pressures facing museums. After the winners are announced on 12th October, Art Fund will host events and online activity to celebrate the work of UK museums. As in previous years, the Museum of the Year partnership with the BBC will continue, with national coverage of the award ceremony. Art Fund, M + H, Art Newspaper, Museums Journal
Kids in Museums Awards for museum work under lockdown – from offline packs to live broadcast zoology
Kids in Museums has published a shortlist of museums for its annual Family Friendly Museum Award, this year shaped around activities offered by museums to young people under lockdown. 26 museums were chosen from 400 nominations in categories including best film, website activity, social media activity, international museum activity and Going the Extra Mile. Featured projects include Colchester and Ipswich Museums’ Museum From Home activity packs, which offered things to do offline; National Museums Liverpool’s My Home is My Museum, which encouraged children to make a museum at home and the Zoology Live! Online Festival designed by the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology. Winners will be announced in October. Museums Journal, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance (Colchester/Ipswich case study), NML, Museum of Zoology (Zoology Live short films), Kids in Museums, Museums Journal (links to all projects)
Fantastic for Families shortlist includes The Whitworth and The Beaney
The Family Arts Campaign has announced a 30-strong shortlist for its annual Fantastic for Families Award. Six museums are highlighted, including the National Maritime Museum and the Whitworth under ‘best family venue’ – Manchester Museum and the Museum of London Docklands for reaching past barriers to engage new audiences, and The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and Barnsley Museums as leaders in age-friendly events. Winners will be announced on 9th September. Family Arts Campaign
Also: The National Lottery is seeking nominations of individuals who have done exceptional work for their community during Covid-19 for awards under several categories, including heritage. Winners will receive a £3k cash prize for their organisation and a National Lottery Awards trophy. NLHF
Birmingham and York museums among those facing redundancy discussions
A number of museums and heritage bodies have announced that they will be entering into redundancy discussions as they face drastic reductions in commercial income as a result of the coronavirus:
Birmingham Museums Trust has announced that half of its staff are at risk of redundancy. It said that it continued to be in discussions with ACE and Birmingham City Council, as well as waiting to hear more details of the bailout fund. It has so far raised £35k through a public campaign, but needs significant additional funding. BMT Chair Niels de Vos said that BMT does not have large reserves adding that “since April a large proportion of our staff have been furloughed and with this scheme coming to an end, we sadly can’t save everyone’s jobs. Only when visitor numbers and spend return to pre-coronavirus levels will our business model break even again.” BMT continues to be highly inventive in its fundraising and programming plans with a summer of events including a pizza and wine evening at Sarehole Mill and summer theatre at Blakesley Hall. BMT, BMT (public fundraiser), Museums Journal, The Big Ham, BMT (summer special events)
York Museums Trust is also entering into redundancy consultations with staff, having lost £1.5m to date, as over 70% of its income comes from visitors. Prior to distribution details of the Government cultural relief fund being announced, Chief Executive Reyahn King said “we have exhausted every type of government aid currently available, negotiated rental agreements and tirelessly sought other ways of reducing our costs, but we are now in a position where we have to make some very difficult decisions.” YMT is also experimenting with entry charges; York Art Gallery is now free entry to increase the diversity of visitors, with the hope that they will support the gallery through donations and special exhibitions. Minster FM
Tate Enterprises and The National Gallery Company Ltd, both commercial arms of their respective institutions, are planning redundancies in the light of reduced footfall, which Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson anticipates will be ‘a lot less than half’ in coming months. i newspaper, Art Newspaper
The National Trust is contemplating redundancy for 1,200 employees. It has lost £200m this year, and is hoping to cut its spend by £100m. National Trust
The Florence Nightingale Museum, which reopened on 1st August, has made a ‘small number of redundancies’, and is finding it challenging to sell tickets to a Central London venue. It is also selling its own museum facemasks online as part of its fundraising efforts. Florence Nightingale Museum, Florence Nightingale Museum (shop)
The House of Illustration has made four posts redundant and will remain closed until it opens at a new location in 2022. Museums Journal
The Southbank Centre is among many arts venues also making redundancy announcements. It is facing a minimum loss of £5.1m by April next year and says it may have to cut 400 jobs, or two thirds of its workforce. Art Newspaper, Guardian
A third of US museums in AAM survey fear closure, or do not know if they will survive
A survey of 750 US museum directors by the American Alliance of Museums shows that a third fear that their institution will close permanently because of the financial impact of coronavirus, or did not know if it would survive. 56% have reserves to survive for only a further six months, and 64% of directors anticipated a reduction in education and other public programming. Children’s museums and science centres seem most at risk, with almost half fearing they would not survive: these tend to be more reliant on ticket income and have a higher proportion of tactile exhibits. Art Newspaper
‘Supporting Leadership’ report on the role of assistants in culture
A University of Oxford report ‘Supporting Leadership’ has explored the role of assistants in cultural sector leadership. This group has previously been overlooked in sector research; new findings are based on comment from 124 leaders and assistants. The report found that although individual staff describe good experiences, many feel unnoticed and under-valued. One former worker comments “people often underestimate administrative support roles but they’re the madly paddling feet underneath the gliding swan” – another says “many still view support roles as typists and tea-makers.” Turnover is high: a third in the study were looking for other work and only 31% expected to be in the same role in three years’ time. Suggestions to improve the roles include mapping out tasks in detail and choosing an appropriate job title, and a better-designed recruitment process with opportunities for development built in. Support staff appreciate the chance for varied work, relationship building and insights across the whole organisation, but are also demotivated by a lack of control of their work, the risk of becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for tasks, isolation and low pay. Arts Professional, Oxford GLAM, Museums Journal
US philanthropist funds Met internships to diversify museum sector workforce
Following a $5m gift from philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, The Metropolitan Museum in New York has announced that it will begin a fully paid internship programme. Arsht said “paid internships are an important step towards increasing opportunities and supporting equity in the art field. This, along with an enduring focus on themes of resilience, lifting up artists from a variety of backgrounds through the museum's performance programming, forms the foundation of my gift." Art Newspaper
Government publishes further details of points-based immigration from 2021
The Government has published further details of its points-based immigration system, which will shape who is allowed to work, live and study in the UK. Skilled workers will have to carry out tasks needing qualifications at A level equivalent or above, with a minimum salary threshold of £25.6k. Employees at a lower salary of at least £20,480 will be admitted in a shortage occupation or if they have a relevant PhD. Gov.uk
75% of employers in arts, entertainment and recreation sectors use furlough scheme
Government statistics show the number of employers per sector who have made use of the Job Retention Furlough Scheme. 75% of employers in ‘Arts, entertainment, recreation and other services’ have furloughed staff through the scheme – a similar figure to manufacturing and construction. However, 87% of accommodation and food services employers used the scheme, the highest for any sector overall. Nationally, the average JRFS usage was 60% of all employers. Regionally, although London furloughed the greatest number of workers at 1.29m, the percentage of workers furloughed was virtually the same across every UK country and region, hovering at around 30%. Gov.uk
DCMS Committee report calls for CJRS to extend beyond October for creative industries
The DCMS Parliamentary Committee has published a report on the effects of the coronavirus on its sectors, including the creative industries. The report expresses regret that the package of £1.57bn in funding took so long to arrange, leading to closures that may have been avoided.
Its recommendations include:
Extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme flexibly and tailored to specific sectors in the creative industries, beyond October and until income returns to sustainable levels.
Support should reach creative freelancers, not just high profile institutions, and be given to organisations that have not previously received public subsidy.
The Cultural Renewal Taskforce should address the lack of co-ordination in finding technological solutions between artforms and sectors.
Some cultural work, such as filming and touring, cannot easily resume because insurance is now unavailable – DCMS should work with insurers to provide a long term pandemic re-insurance scheme, and emergency insurance for some cultural events.
A temporary change in legislation so that if a museum becomes insolvent, its collections cannot be liquidated to generate money for 12 months.
DCMS should create a Tourism Data Hub to assess visitor intentions for 2021, so the tourism industry can make informed plans.
DCMS and the Treasury should create a data voucher scheme, so that everyone can access cultural and other resources that have moved online.
Also: London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for an extension the furlough scheme for selected sectors, including retail, culture and hospitality, to prevent a surge in unemployment. In June, the number of Londoners on furlough rose to 1.29m or 30% of the capital’s eligible workforce – employers have taken over the payment of national insurance and pensions for these workers since 1st August, and the furlough scheme is planned to end entirely in October. Mayor of London
Glasgow Life appeals to Scottish Government over deficit of ‘tens of millions’
Glasgow Council has appealed to the Scottish Government to give more financial support to Glasgow Life, which runs the city’s major cultural and sporting assets, including 11 museums. Council leader Susan Aitken says that the charity now has a deficit of ‘tens of millions’. Tourism has grown rapidly in the city in the past few years from 1.9m to 2.5m visitors, with museums such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Burrell Collection an important part of that draw. Before the coronavirus struck, a £774m tourism spend supported 30,000 jobs in the city. However, since lockdown Glasgow Life, which was expecting to generate £38m over the year has had close to zero income. Museums Journal, Herald Scotland
Janeites to the rescue – mixed news for literary museums
The Guardian has offered a snapshot of how some museums devoted to literary figures are faring as they reopen. Often independent, and therefore reliant on ticket sales and particularly financially vulnerable, the museums nevertheless represent some figures who have a fiercely loyal following. Jane Austen’s House in Hampshire has fundraised £95k - £20k above its target, and the Charles Dickens museum has also raised £40k, which has helped alongside a National Lottery Grant, although Director Cindy Sughrue says ‘we’re not out of danger yet’. Elsewhere, the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth is hoping to reopen at the end of August, but has funding secure only until the end of September, and Wordsworth Grasmere’s Director Michael McGregor says that it has been supported by an ACE grant, but is ‘desperate to get open and start generating income.’ Guardian
Latest Government guidance includes mandatory facemasks in museums
Following new Government guidance, mask wearing will be mandatory in museums, galleries, places of worship and cinemas from 8th August. Live performances and pilot larger gatherings in conference centres have been delayed for a fortnight to mid-August. NMDC, Gov.uk
The Mayor of London’s office has published a checklist of things to consider when running an event during social distancing, from artist needs to insurance, food and finance. Mayor of London
The Government has published details of its Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which allows restaurants and cafes to offer a discount to diners and reclaim up to £10 per head. This applies to all sites, including museums and galleries, offering eat-in dining, but not take aways or food vans. uk
Visitor economy guidance was last updated on 31st July. Although many business and dining events in conference-type spaces are suspended until at least 1st October, some events for under 30 people are permitted. Gov.uk, VisitBritain (summary of main points)
‘We’re Good To Go’ and other tourism toolkits and resources
VisitBritain is offering toolkits and signposting for visitor attractions and tourist amenities preparing to reopen. By mid-July, 30,000 businesses had acquired the ‘We’re Good To Go’ consumer mark to be displayed at attractions and online. It is also offering a toolkit for its ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign, encouraging visitors to plan ahead, and a resources hub for tourism, launched in mid-July. Its series of business recovery webinars also continues. VisitBritain (Good To Go), VisitBritain (Know Before You Go), VisitBritain (general signposting), Visit Britain (webinars)
Planning for summer and autumn museum visits for school-aged children
Guidance from the Government says that activities for groups of school-aged children can take place over the summer, but advises that groups should be restricted to 15, and that for children over 13, issues such as use of public transport and activity in mixed settings should be considered. GEM Director Rachel Tranter comments “families will be visiting museums this summer as museums begin to re-open. It's really important to consider their needs to ensure a Covid secure experience that works for families to build confidence. In terms of school visits we know that some teachers have been making enquiries about school visits in the autumn term. We encourage museums to be confident that they have the measures in place to ensure a Covid Secure service before confirming any bookings and encourage consultation with local schools. We have been working with the Clore Duffield Foundation, Engage and Head of Learning throughout the UK to provide guidance which will be available soon via the Space for Learning website”.Space for Learning,CLA (scroll to bottom)
Changing Places toilets to become mandatory in new public buildings
Changing Places toilets will become mandatory in new public buildings including shopping centres and art venues, following a change to building rules in England. It is expected that this will result in around 150 new Changing Places toilets each year, benefitting 250,000 people. Campaigner Zack Kerr described the announcement as ‘nothing short of life changing’. Gov.uk, BBC
Theatrical and live music venues, which have struggled the hardest to find a financially viable model during social distancing, are beginning to find models that might work when reopening begins, possibly from mid-August. However, one rather than two metre distancing is crucial to this. Gavin Green of theatre consultancy Charcoalblue says “It changes a theatre’s potential capacity from about 33% to more like 67%, which begins to look possible. It’s still not quite enough to make the top-end commercial shows stack up, but it starts to look like a real audience, rather than playing to an empty room.” Meanwhile some music venues are looking at projecting linear patterns onto arenas, which are both aesthetic and guide audiences to safe viewing spaces. Ventilation which enters the room from below, and then exits through the roof may also prevent the drift of virus across audience spaces. These innovations may also be applied to conference spaces. Guardian
Lincoln Castle and the nearby Collection Museum are offering priority access with a reduced number of tickets for visitors who are shielding, for one hour each week. The scheme will continue for at least two months after the Government advice to shield ended on 31st July. Museums Journal
Tourists initially return to seasides not cities – but plans for more ‘balanced’ city economies stay in place
Tourists are heading initially for coasts rather than cities as they emerge from lockdown. As well as anecdotes of crowding at beaches and resorts such as St Ives, figures from lastminute.com show visits to Skegness up 800% over a fortnight in July, and Scarborough up 500%.
Cities have remained quieter, with The Telegraph among those suggesting itineraries for visiting sites that would usually be thronged with people. York, where one in four of the working population are in jobs related to tourism, is particularly struggling, with Labour MP Rachael Maskell saying that it is at an ‘economic crossroads’. The City of York has launched a £100k campaign to attract visitors back. Meanwhile Bath and Edinburgh have lost international tourists and are refocusing on the domestic market which is likely to be less profitable – with shorter stays and lower spend. Nevertheless, both cities remain committed to plans made pre-coronavirus, aimed to find a better balance between tourists and locals – and make the economy overall less reliant on tourism. Bath has lost £17m in tourist spend since lockdown, but Bath Council has said that it ‘can’t go back to dependence on mass tourism’. Leader of Edinburgh City Council Adam McVey said that the city would also be sticking with a strategy ‘very much focused on moving away from the idea of generating growth for growth’s sake’. Guardian (seasides, Edinburgh, Bath) Guardian (the view from Brighton), BBC (Bournemouth), Guardian (York), Telegraph (city staycations)
Coventry plans to begin its City of Culture year in May
Coventry has announced that it will be launching its delayed year as City of Culture from May 2021 – May 2022. All 127 of the city’s schools will be involved, and it will feature a look at the city’s involvement in the birth of rave, and its identity as a city of peace and reconciliation. Its Creative Director Chenine Bhathena said “with support and resources the cultural community can play a significant role in the reset of the UK and we plan to shine a spotlight on culture’s important role in this recovery.”Coventry City of Culture, Arts Industry
Heritage Digital launches to increase free digital skills training in the sector
Heritage Digital has launched, making it easier for those working in the sector to gain free digital skills training. The programme is funded by NLHF and runs to July 2021, delivered by Media Trust, Charity Digital and Naomi Korn Associates. Sessions so far have covered engaging audiences online, making good use of data and addressing privacy and security. The work is informed by a 2019 digital skills survey, in which 77% of respondents said that their organisation’s digital skills ranged from acceptable to very poor. However, most organisations have the very basics of a website (96%) and at least one social media channel (88%). The work is therefore shaped to help develop a strategic approach so that the heritage sector does not get left behind as the battle for public attention becomes more competitive. A related report highlights success stories including the National Trust’s Spring Blossom Festival during lockdown and a well-thought-out approach to copyright underlying 14 – 18 NOW. Heritage Digital, Heritage Digital (report with case studies), NLHF
The Museum Ideas 2020 conference will now be free and online, with a date and programme to be announced in October. Organisers have also announced the 2021 conference, which will be on the topic of representation, solidarity and social justice. Museum iD
Family friendly in a socially distanced world: Kids in Museums events and advice
Kids in Museums is offering webinars throughout August looking at how to reopen museums in a family friendly way in a socially distanced world, available to Scottish, Welsh and West Midlands museums. It is also offering tailored training for Front of House staff open to all, and audits of museum sites on reopening. Kids in Museums
Connecting Culture – virtual international gathering to rebuild following Covid.
Experience UK is holding a virtual conference and expo ‘Connecting Culture’ to bring together professionals from the museum and heritage sector, and discuss how to respond and rebuild post-virus. It will also showcase UK companies which can offer expertise to museum and heritage attractions globally. The event takes place on 9 – 10 September. Tickets are free. Experience UK, Connecting Culture (booking)
Towards a National Collection: ‘speed dating’ events for IROs and academics
AHRC’s ‘Towards a National Collection’ project aims to break down the barriers between the UK’s cultural heritage collections, and open them up to new research opportunities. Four webinars will take place in August, followed by ‘speed dating’ opportunities between academics and Independent Research Organisations (IROs), which include some museums. Events take place on 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th August. National Collection
Museum Freelance Network offers ACE project grant advice
The Museum Freelance Network is offering a session on ACE project grant opportunities with ACE’s Isabel Churcher. The event takes place at 9am on 19th August and is free. Museum Freelance, Museum Freelance (tickets)
Bursaries available to join Emerging Curators Group
The British Art Network is offering 1k bursaries for 15 people to join its Emerging Curators Group this year and help further establish their careers. The group will meet from October 2020 – June 2021; applications from those under-represented in the sector are especially welcome, and you can apply if you are not currently employed. The deadline for applications is 15th September. Tate
Grants to attend IIC’s ‘Practices and Challenges in Built Heritage Conservation’
A variety of grants are available to help conservators in the UK and abroad attend the International Institute for Conservation’s Congress ‘Practices and Challenges in Built Heritage Conservation’ – which looks at the intersection between collections and the buildings in which they are housed. The event is online from 2 - 6 November with some live hub events and broadcasts from Edinburgh. Those either unemployed or facing financial challenges following the coronavirus can take up a number of free attendance options. There are also bursaries specifically for UK conservators from the Anna Plowden Trust. IIC (grants for UK conservators) IIC (international options)
IoF cultural fundraising survey to inform government policy
The Institute of Fundraising and University of Sheffield are conducting a survey on the effects of Covid-19 on arts and cultural organisations, to assist fundraisers and shape advocacy to Government. The survey is relatively detailed and takes around 25 minutes to complete. The deadline for submissions is 14th August. IoF
House of Lord Committee asks how we can ‘press the reset button’ following Covid-19
The House of Lords Covid-19 Committee is seeking public views about the long-term implications of the pandemic for the economy and society. It is encouraging responses from both under 18s and adults – discussion packs are available to shape conversation with both groups. It is seeking responses from a broad range of people around three questions: have there been positives from the pandemic; what are you most worried about; what do you hope changes for the better. Parliament UK
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has launched a Comprehensive Spending Review, with outcomes due to be published in the autumn. It will focus on recovery from Covid-19, making the UK a ‘scientific superpower’ including work towards zero carbon by 2050, and strengthening the UK’s place in the world. Organisations are invited to make representations about the CSR. Gov.uk
Brunel Museum seeks views as it goes ahead with transformation programme
The Brunel Museum is reopening on 10th August with plans to go ahead with its development programme, led by its new Director Dr Cathy Pütz. This includes conserving the Grade II building, which sits above Brunel’s tunnel beneath the Thames and creating a conditioned environment for recently-acquired Thames Tunnel watercolours by Marc Brunel. The museum is seeking views on its development in a five minute survey. Brunel Museum, Brunel Museum (survey)
AHRC seeks nominations of creative greats of the 21st century so far
The Arts and Humanities Research Council is creating its first digital collection, ‘the Museum of Boundless Creativity’, part of a campaign to promote the importance of the creative sector during coronavirus. It is inviting the public and sector to use 150 words to nominate the people, ideas and objects that have shaped the UK’s culture during the 21st century – ideas to date range from Netflix to Minecraft and Wolf Hall to free national museum entry. The deadline for suggestions is 5pm on 7th August; 20 selected winning entries will be live online for two months from September. AHRC
Experimental statistics track number of visitors to reopening national museums
In mid-July, DCMS began collecting daily visitor statistics from the museums it sponsors, to track the effect of reopening on visitor numbers. Results from the first two weeks (from 13th – 26th July) showed footfall at around 8 – 9% of the normal visitor average for the three DCMS-sponsored museums then open. These were The National Gallery, Wallace Collection and some National Museums Liverpool sites. These figures should become a better guide to the level of visitor return as more museums open and are added to the statistics in coming weeks. Gov.uk
ALVA publishes its 2019 visitor statistics, with an appeal to the public to support recovery
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has published visitor figures for its members during 2019. Overall, these show a rise of 5.59% visitors overall with nearly 145m individual trips made to 266 sites. Destinations in London were the most visited (taking the top 11 spots) with a total of 70m visitors. Stand out figures include:
The British Museum remains the most visited attraction overall, with 6.23m visitors – its 7% rise in visitors in 2019 is partly due to its Manga exhibition, which also attracted its youngest and most diverse audience ever.
The National Museum of Scotland was the most visited outside London at 2.21m.
Footfall increased by a remarkable 73.73% at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, due to the popularity of the Dippy and Leonardo da Vinci touring exhibitions – this is now among the Glasgow Life venues facing serious difficulty this year from coronavirus loss of revenue.
Tate Britain also grew footfall by 42% through popular exhibitions such as Don McCullin and Van Gogh.
The Museum in Docklands grew its audience by 11.7% through targeted marketing to five local boroughs, as well as the free exhibition ‘Secret Rivers’. Many museums are likely to pivot to more local marketing this year.
ALVA Director Bernard Donoghue said that the figures show how popular and well-loved these sites are, and important to both the economy and people’s wellbeing. However he added: “all of our members… face a very difficult future and exceptionally challenging times and so ALVA is making a special request of the public to spend their precious time and money at their local visitor attraction, to help them to survive and recover.”Museums Journal, ALVA (table of figures), ALVA (overview), M + H
Report explores how museums and VR businesses can develop new audiences through partnership work
The immersive technology sector is growing rapidly, and is expected to be worth £294m in 2023, up from £118m in 2019. A new report by Digital Catapult for UKRI explores how the cultural sector can take advantage of ‘more engaged, spatial and embodied ways of learning’ and how it may be crucial for museums and heritage institutions in particular to use these approaches to engage new audiences. The report is also aimed at businesses creating immersive content, talking them through audience segmentation: for example, currently those coming to VR through gaming do not overlap much with gallery goers. Museums and gallery venues have been successful venues for immersive events, such as ‘We Live in an Ocean of Air’ by Marshmallow Laser Feast – which brought a giant sequoia forest to the Saatchi Gallery. However many companies don’t have access to Audience Finder type technologies that would allow them to partner with appropriate museums. Audience of the Future, Marshmallow Laser Feast (We Live In an Ocean of Air)
Also: 26 winners of the Media & Technology MUSE awards, run by the American Alliance of Museums include many VR and AR projects and give a snapshot of strong work in the field from across the US. AAM
CreativeXR projects turn audiovisual into a physical experience, and build storyworlds around art
20 projects will share £400k in the third round of CreativeXR funding, which supports the development of cutting edge immersive projects which are likely to become a feature across artforms in the future. Projects include ‘(Hi)story of a Painting’, which builds educational storyworlds around iconic works of art and ‘Child of Empire’ an interactive docufiction based on the partition of India and Pakistan. Arts Industry, CreativeXR
NLHF digital guide covers issues for the way we work now: from public wifi to homeworking
National Lottery Heritage Fund has published a new guide for heritage organisations to help them keep information safe and protect people’s privacy when working online. Topics covered range from homeworking to using public wifi safely, online videoconferencing and social media with an emphasis on child protection. NLHF
Collections Trust to create framework for better data sharing in museums - first imagined in 1990s
The Collections Trust has received funding and mentoring from the Open Data Institute (ODI) to help it explore how 1,700 museums can share data with each other and other users. CT says that there has been discussion since at least 1995 about how to bring together museum collection content in a future-proof infrastructure, and that currently
‘the UK is just about the only European country that lacks this capability’. It adds that the barriers are not technical or financial, but more to do with strategic vision, and that the ODI’s expertise in other sectors should help with drafting an initial framework. The project will draw from existing work – ranging from Art UK’s data harvester, to AHRC’s major £19m project ‘Towards a National Collection’. Museums Journal, Collections Trust, ODI
Also: The Collections Trust conference ‘Dynamic information for dynamic collections’, is going ahead on 1st October and will include sessions on better data sharing. Speakers, sessions and booking information will be available from early September.
Two UK museums join Facebook and Instagram advertising boycott
Imperial War Museums and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales have joined the boycott of Facebook advertising, to highlights its role in spreading hate and disinformation. The campaign has also attracted support from major companies including Adidas and Unilever. Peter Austin, IWM’s Assistant Director of Communications said “stopping the unchecked spread of disinformation and hate is something that’s very close to the core values of IWM…we have new Holocaust and second world war galleries opening next year. To be seen to advertise on a platform that has not done enough to stop the unchecked spread of hate and disinformation would not be something that aligns with what we believe in.”Museums Journal, Inews, Guardian
Mayor of London’s Commission on Diversity in the Public Realm is launched
The Commission on Diversity in the Public Realm has been launched by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to address how to represent a broader range of London’s figures than is represented in the city’s largely Victorian statuary. Formed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, organisations already signed up to the Commission include Black Cultural Archives, Iniva, Historic England and Arts Council England. These will work beside up to 15 independent members who are yet to be recruited. The group will review existing public art in London, devise best practice, and make recommendations on new commissions in forms from statues to plaques, street art and street names. The Mayor said "for too long our public spaces have neglected the achievements of many in our city. The range of people immortalised in our statues, memorials and buildings have left a restricted view of the past that fails to show our capital’s great diversity. It’s time for this to change."Arts Professional, Mayor of London
World Museum brings forward gallery rethink in the light of Black Lives Matter
The World Museum in Liverpool has decided to bring forward a redesign of its World Cultures Gallery in the light of Black Lives Matter. The current display is described by curator Emma Martin as ‘racist’ and supporting a world view based on colonial thinking. The World Museum’s founding collection came from the estate of the 13th Earl of Derby in 1851. The museum has been conducting a public consultation since May last year and is also working with figures including filmmaker Leo Asemota and the comedian Daliso Chaponda. It hopes the result will be a redisplay that is more ‘diverse, inclusive and tolerant’. Art Newspaper
Also: RSA’s series of filmed events on important contemporary issues, Bridges to the Future, features a discussion between historians David Olusoga and Mary Beard on the debate about how we should address statues of the past in the light of Black Lives Matter – and their differing reactions to a range of figures from Colston to Nelson. RSA
University of Cambridge collects outcomes from the statue debate
The Cambridge Heritage Research Centre is conducting a six week research project to track the social and practical outcomes of the debate about statues in public space. It will be tracking comment across four newspapers, the statements of advocacy groups and responses from institutions. It will be interviewing some organisations, including museums – but if you have insight to contribute, please contact [email protected]University of Cambridge
Museum of the Home announces plans to ‘reinterpret and contextualise’ Geffrye statue
The Museum of the Home has announced that it will retain a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye, which stands above the central doorway of its site at a group of 1714 former almshouses. The museum consulted the local community about the statue’s future following the Black Lives Matter protests, because part of Geffrye’s fortune came from the transatlantic slave trade. Overall public opinion was in favour of removal, but ‘full of nuance and different opinions’ and the Board has decided to instead recontextualise the statue to ‘tell the history of Geffrye's career and his connections with the forced labour and trading of enslaved Africans’. The current statue is a 1912 replica, replacing a 1724 original, removed when almshouse residents moved to a new site in Kent. Museums Journal, Museum of the Home
Horniman plans to reinvent its natural history gallery to address climate
Horniman Museum Director Nick Merriman has written for The Ecologist describing the evolving plans to address the climate emergency through its museum collection where environment, ecology and human cultures sit side by side. Plans include redesigning the natural history gallery to discuss human influence on climate, as well as creating a Sustainable Gardening area to encourage greener lifestyles. Research shows that people can be put off from facing environmental problems by their enormity, so the museum’s ‘Nature and Love’ project will appeal to people’s love of family, in particular the next generation. Ecologist
A new guide ‘Museums and Disaster Risk Reduction’ explores how museums across the world can address disaster risk, and ‘build back better’ when setbacks occur. Listing 30 major global risks, which are variously geopolitical, economic, societal, technological and environmental, it helps museums to identify threats and score their likelihood. It also highlights how creating plans for emergencies fits well with wider aims such as sustainable tourism, widening participation and protecting cultural and natural heritage. Case studies range from the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, to arts and culture projects with remarkable outcomes – in 2004, almost all the inhabitants of Simeulue Island in the Indian Ocean survived a tsunami, in part because of a song about a previous 1907 tsunami, kept alive by oral tradition, which gave people guidance about how to react. Curating Tomorrow
Also: Meanwhile the Dutch city of Arnhem becomes the latest to organise increased green cover, to address the effects of global heating. It is removing 10% of its asphalt over the next decade, making way for grasses and plants to deal better with both downpours and droughts. The work will especially focus around busy districts such as shopping centres and also include ‘cooling down’ points such as ponds and tree cover. Guardian, Fast Company
Community Life survey shows that ‘arts and museums’ attract charity giving from 4%
The Community Life survey tracks population behaviour relating to belonging and engagement in community, as well as volunteering and charity giving. Findings for 2018 – 19 show that 75% of people said they had given to charity in the past month – the same figure as for recent years. People are progressively more likely to give with age – rising from 55% in 16 – 24 year olds, to 85% among the over 75s. Medical research is the most popular charity type, cited by 27%, animal welfare received 19% and conservation, the environment and heritage 9%. Arts and museums were the least cited category at 4% apart from ‘other’ at 2%.
The 19 – 20 data also shows that:
64% of respondents said they had volunteered in any way in the previous 12 months, and 39% do so at least once a month.
53% want to be involved in local decision making, but only 27% feel able to influence local decisions
76% said their neighbourhood was a good place to live; 63% felt they belonged to their immediate neighbourhood and 84% felt they belonged to Britain.
How can museums radically change their income model?
Former co-Director of the Design Museum, Alice Black has written for Arts Professional about the need for ‘thinly capitalised’ and vulnerable cultural institutions to substantially change, rather than just tweak, their approach to earning a living. She says “trends that were already underway, affecting the way we work, live and consume, are dramatically accelerating and will force a realignment of business models for this sector.” She points to the newspaper industry, where paywalls appear to be working better than advertising in offering a sustainable income, backed by ‘uncompromising quality’. She also argues that while typical £70 a year membership schemes attract relatively well-off supporters, little-and-often payments, backed up by special offers and CRM systems would allow for higher volumes. However, the modest size of most museums makes this commercialisation difficult – she also suggests a combined, multi-institution approach to IT, HR and purchasing will allow museums to save money and focus on core artistic skills. Art Professional
Also: The Institute of Fundraising has published a new short guide to fundraising in the time of the coronavirus, in partnership with THINK consulting solutions. The report segments likely supporter behaviour (older people are more likely to remain loyal; younger people may give to a new cause) and considers new aspects of digital fundraising – with platforms such as Twitch and Tiltify helping some charities raise significant income. Culture Hive
ACE gives £33m to 196 NPOs to help them survive to the end of September
ACE has announced that its Emergency Fund has given a total of £33m to 196 National Portfolio Organisations that would not otherwise have survived to the end of September. ACE said that a number of organisations did not receive support from the fund because they could not demonstrate that they were threatened in the very short term – but these are still facing ‘significant long-term financial challenges.’ ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley said that the remainder of the fund, plus recently-announced Government funding would be used to support the sector in the next few months. ACE
National Lottery Project Grants reopen, with opportunities for freelancers and networks
Meanwhile, National Lottery Project Grants resumed during July, with revised terms to support a wider group of museums and networks. Although all applications must involve an accredited museum, non-accredited museums can be part of a bid and a requirement for 10% match funding has been removed. NPOs and national museums can bid for funds to support Subject Specialist Networks. Funds are slightly down on what was available for the period last year (£59.8m vs £65.2m). Museums Journal, Museum Freelance Network (advice webinar), Arts Professional
LGA urges councils to support culture, leisure, tourism and sport during Covid-19 recovery
The Local Government Association has published advice for local councils, ‘Creative Places – supporting your local creative economy’. The paper aims to help councils understand the creative sector better, while emphasising that it has been hit harder and for longer than many other areas of the economy. It gives advice on how to map the local creative economy, and set and deliver goals to support it.
The LGA has also published a brief paper on the impact of Covid-19 on culture, leisure and sport, based on interviews with senior council officers between April – June this year. Many have expressed concern about the prospects for these services, which with the exception of libraries, are a discretionary spend. It is estimated that councils spend £2.2bn annually in these areas, but are now facing an estimated £7.4bn gap in finances. LGA (council officer interviews), LGA (supporting creative industries)
Welsh Government launches capital grant fund for museums, archives and libraries
The Welsh Government has opened its capital grant fund for museums, archives and libraries for 2021 – 22. Capital grants are available up to £150k in Band A and £300k in Band B. The deadline for expressions of interest is 14th September. Gov.uk
Historic England awards £50k to explore creating a metal detecting best practice body
The Association of Detectorists has been granted £50k by Historic England to explore becoming a not-for-profit institute to promote responsible metal detecting and to demonstrate how the pastime has been beneficial in the investigation of archaeological sites. The funding will set up an advisory board and a feasibility study, with support of bodies such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme. PAS recently announced that there have been 1.5m finds by the public since reporting began in 1997, 90% of which were discoveries by metal detectorists. Museums Journal, Evening Standard
Heritage Alliance paper looks at Britain’s future relationship with the EU
The Heritage Alliance has published a short paper looking at heritage issues in Britain’s changing relationship with the EU. It asks for clarification of the UK’s future relationship with the Erasmus student exchange scheme, and more work to address replacing the estimated £450m in EU funding which the heritage sector has received over the last decade. It points to a heritage skills gap currently filled by EU workers and calls to maintain some EU standards, including the Air Quality Directive and Habitat Directive. Heritage Alliance
Art History A level, delivered free at museum sites, now available online
A chance to study an Art History Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) in a condensed course on Saturdays is being offered free to state school pupils. They will have the option of either attending regular events at the Wallace Collection or National Gallery, or learning entirely online – although this cohort will also be offered opportunities to visit and take up work experience at a number of museum sector venues. The EPQ is the equivalent of half an A level, and students will have the opportunity to obtain an A Level in Art History if they study the remaining modules in a second year. Art History A level was saved from being abolished in 2016, when Pearson announced that it would develop a qualification. The charity Art History in Schools continues to campaign to make the subject more widely available in state education. Art History Link Up, Art History in Schools
50 cultural projects for people shielding at home: from phone calls to Scratch nights
The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance has published a short report ‘How creativity and culture has been supporting people who are shielding or vulnerable during Covid-19’. As well as listing around 50 projects devised by museums, arts and cultural groups, it looks at some of the commonalities of the work. Most projects took part with government, health or third sector partners and used a mixture of on and offline approaches – mindful that some shielding groups also face digital exclusion. In total, the projects reached around 100,000 people including those with dementia, facing mental health difficulties and vulnerable younger people. Many of the organisations delivering work are themselves financially at risk because of the coronavirus. Case studies in the report include Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, which reached 100 people who are shielding through phone and newsletter; and Intermission Youth which worked with 30 young BAME people in Greater London with a programme including a Zoom Scratch night, film production and online support and mentoring by phone. Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance
Largest surviving fragment of Roman mosaic floor from Dorset among items at risk of export
DCMS has placed an export bar on a remaining fragment from a 4th century AD floor mosaic, depicting a leopard leaping on an antelope. It comes from a Roman Villa in Dewlish Dorset – the rest of the mosaic has been destroyed except for one smaller fragment now at Dorchester Country Museum. The asking price is £135k, with an export bar to 16th October, with a possible extension to 16th January 2021. An export bar has also been applied to a set of ten hand-drawn maps showing the defeat of the Spanish Armada, with a value of £600k. Gov.uk (mosaic), Gov.uk (Armada maps)
Also: Germany has announced that it will increase its budget for acquisitions to the federal art collection from €500k to €3m this year, as a way of supporting artists and gallery networks during the pandemic. Art Newspaper
New planning rules to protect cultural built heritage
The Government has announced changes to planning rules to protect cultural buildings in England, including theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues from being demolished or redeveloped. Councils will have to take the temporary impact of Covid-19 into account when considering applications for change of use. Jon Morgan, Director of the Theatres Trust said that this meant that theatres made vacant by operator liquidation could be revived as community assets. Gov.uk
Unwelcome museum visitors – from carpet beetles to grey silverfish
Museums are dealing with a heightened risk of damage to collections by insects as a side-effect of lockdown. The closure of museums coincided with the insect mating season, and the emptiness of whole venues has also given opportunities for bugs to spread. Nick Booth, Head of Collections at the SS Great Britain Trust says “we used to have to worry about objects being damaged by visitors, now we’re worried because they’re not here to ward off the pests.” British Museum staff are also holistically managing the threat of pests attracted by increased dust, and the South West Museum Development Programme has now launched a campaign to support organisations in its region to deal with the problem. Art Newspaper, Telegraph