National Gallery launches ‘pay what you wish’ scheme in response to cost of living crisis
The National Gallery has launched a new ‘Pay What You Wish’ scheme in response to the cost of living crisis. The offer covers Friday evenings for the whole run of its ‘Lucian Freud: New Perspectives’ exhibition, with tickets available for as little as £1, down from the £26 it would cost on Saturday mornings or £24 on weekdays. Visitors can also attend Gallery Friday Late talks and events. Director Gabriele Finaldi said that “the cost of an exhibition ticket can sometimes make it difficult to visit. While most of our temporary exhibitions are free, the Pay what you Wish scheme will enable practically anyone who wants to see the Freud centenary show to do so.” Although pay what you wish schemes have grown in popularity in London, this is the first time the offer has been applied to a ‘blockbuster’ exhibition Times, Independent, National Gallery
The Natural History Museum is working in partnership with Alexa to share its natural history knowledge through the device. Topics including oceans, marine life, dinosaurs, environment and climate will be covered. Users can also ask Alexa about the museum itself, hear a fact of the day, or take quizzes on natural history topics. NHM’s Dan Phelan says “Bringing our world to Alexa means we can expand imaginations, and inspire children to become advocates for the planet.”M + H
Images this month: Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Images this month come from Royal Observatory Greenwich's ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ competiton. The winner is Gerald Rhemann for ‘Disconnection Event’, a rare photograph of a piece of Comet Leonard's gas tail being disconnected and carried away by the solar wind. The image is now on display alongside the winners of the other categories in an accompanying exhibition. RMG
Energy Bill Relief Scheme offers six months’ support to charities and businesses including museums
The Government has announced the details of its relief scheme which will reduce the cost of energy for non-domestic customers, initially for the next six months to the end of March 2023. Organisations do not need to take action to receive the discount which will be automatically applied. However, if an organisation has signed a fixed deal before 1st April 2022 it will not be eligible for the scheme even if the fixed deal hasn't come into force yet - it is the date when the agreement was signed that matters. For all other businesses, the Supported Wholesale Price is now £211 per MWh for electricity and £75 per MWh for gas. This is half the expected price of energy for this winter – however, many bills will still be around twice as expensive as last winter. The scheme will be reviewed after three months. Gov.uk, Heritage Alliance, Museums Journal
AIM cost of living survey – plus comment from the sector on affording bills
AIM has published the results of its cost of living survey, based on responses from 350 museums during September. The replies came in both before and after the Government published the details of its relief scheme. Findings include:
Half of museums think they can absorb cost of living in the short but not long term, with 70% having unrestricted reserves for three or more months.
Energy costs are the main pressure for 70%. These museums on average expect a doubling of energy costs from 20 to 45% in the next 6 – 12 months – but there is wide variation with some facing up to 90% increases.
40% of organisations have or plan to scale down activity including reducing public offer, reducing events, or delaying or cancelling gallery refreshes and capital projects. One in six are planning restructuring or redundancies.
Rebuilding visitor numbers is still a work in progress: around half found visitors and income over the summer were in line with their projections or up to 29% below. A third had visitors significantly below projections.
40% of respondents said they are working on reducing energy consumption, and 20% are seeking grants for energy efficient heating and lighting.
Help with energy bills is the main ask from most museums, in part delivered by the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. However, there will still be sharp increases for many. The Heritage Alliance is among the organisations calling for museums and heritage sites to be among those receiving support after March 2023.
AIM Director Lisa Ollerhead also spoke to The Art Newspaper podcast about the cost of living. She said that museums were having trouble before the energy crisis, especially those reliant on international visitors, and that it is a ‘tired sector’ with people still recovering. She emphasised that there is regular sector co-ordination across MA, NMDC, Art Fund and others to speak to funders and Government, saying “it’s really important that we have a set of clear, coherent asks that we have all agreed is the best for the sector.” She added “we know the kinds of support that are on the minds of people in DCMS and in Government and we are wanting to understand particularly the non-CRF Covid interventions such as VAT cuts and business rates relief, and what kind of impact similar interventions might have on the utilities.” She also touched on the capacity of museums to act as warm banks, saying “We are definitely hearing from a lot of our members that they are feeling that responsibility. Museums are community spaces, they are civic spaces, and they want to be able to offer that to people if they are struggling and cold at home… But it is a big challenge for museums to pay their own bills and keep themselves warm”.
Paula Orrell is Director of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), another body collecting data on the impact on the sector. She says “It’s not just the energy increase; it’s also the impact of inflation affecting the cost of materials, transport and labour. Another issue is how the cost of living is affecting the ability to recruit, as people are not wanting to enter a sector where the pay is so limiting.” Both she and MA Director Sharon Heal are calling for a cultural recovery package similar to the offer during the pandemic. Orrell adds ”other businesses [in other sectors] are in a stronger position because they’re regarded as valuable. We need to be seen as essential. Not as a cost.” AIM, Art Newspaper (Lisa Ollerhead from 24mins in), Apollo, Heritage Alliance
MA suggestions to support communities through the cost of living crisis
The MA has published a range of suggested options for museums wanting to help their communities through the cost of living crisis. A range of small interventions can make a difference, including spare clothes boxes, free museum tickets through food banks, warm spaces for vulnerable groups with activities such as e.g knitting, making free food available in cafes and training staff to signpost to wider support. Colchester and Ipswich Museums service is currently crowdsourcing a wider list of ideas. Museums Journal
The view from Europe: from symbolic switchoffs to identifying critical cultural infrastructure
In mid September the Network of European Museum Organisations released a statement emphasising that the challenge to museums from the energy crisis is something that is repeating itself across Europe. It reports museum energy bills increasing by up to 400%, compounded by a lack of investment in the public cultural sector meaning that buildings are behind in installing renewables, as well as facing additional challenges when dealing with heritage buildings. NEMO is calling both for increased financial support to museums to address significantly larger bills, and investment in more energy efficient infrastructure. Changes at cultural institutions across Europe range from the largely symbolic - the Louvre will turn off the lights on its glass pyramid at 11pm instead of 1am - to preparation for more serious restrictions. In Strasbourg, France eight municipally run museums will close two days per week, although there has been some backlash to the decision. In Germany, culture minister Claudia Roth is identifying which cultural institutions are ‘critical infrastructure’ to be prioritised in a gas emergency. In German public buildings, heating is already switched off in corridors and restricted to 19° C maximum in rooms. NEMO points to the importance for social cohesion in museums remaining open, adding “the closure and/or reduction of services of museums has a minimal impact in terms of energy savings but does have a significant impact on the cultural and social fabric of Europe in this challenging time.”NEMO, Artnet, (Strasbourg closures), Artnet, Art Newspaper
New Government plans 'squeeze on Government departments' - with local councils contemplating cuts to services
The new Government led by Prime Minister Liz Truss has said that there will be an effective reduction in spending across Government departments, with no increase in funds from last year despite the steep rise in inflation. Truss confirmed that departments were being asked to find efficiencies, but has not specified which ones in particular will be targeted. Cllr James Jamieson, the Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, said that without the ability to raise tax, there will need to be 'severe cuts next year'. He added: “those cuts will have to start before next year, because you can’t do them overnight on April 1st. That will mean that we will be reducing our services that everybody sees. That may be a leisure centre, that may be less fixing of roads." Telegraph, Twitter, ArtNet
Museum of Homelessness finds first permanent venue in Finsbury Park
The Museum of Homelessness will be moving into a permanent venue at Manor House Lodge, Finsbury Park after seven years of work from temporary settings. It has a ten year lease on the building from its key partner Haringey Council. Programming will include performances, talks and workshops developed by people with experience of homelessness, plus three artists in residence in its first year. It will also offer an open access professional standard arts studio for people experiencing homelessness and will house the national archive and collection for homelessness, poverty and social action. Practical surgeries on housing and legal rights will also be on offer. The venue is expected to open in Spring or Summer of 2023. Co-founder Matt Turtle said “we are excited about transforming this precious site into a museum space like no other, a place where people can hear stories they won't hear anyone else and receive practical support when they need it.”Arts Professional, Museum of Homelessness, Museums Journal, M + H
Also: The Museum of Homelessness is also one of five heritage projects funded by NLHF to be nominated for Project of the Year. Voting is open until 5pm on 12th October. NLHF
Museums close to mark the death of the Queen – plus reflections of her life through art
Museums across the country expressed condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth II, in the 70th year of her reign. Many opened books of condolence during the ten day mourning period and were closed on the day of the funeral. There has also been reflection on her impact on the visual culture of the country. Acknowledging that she was happier outdoors than as an art connoisseur, The Art Newspaper podcast discussed her role as custodian of the Royal Collection. Meanwhile, Art UK has drawn together all 143 works in public collections that feature the late Queen: beginning with a bronze sculpture by William Lamb from 1933, and ending with her 2016 statue by Douglas Jennings now on display in Gravesend, Kent. The National Army Museum has very recently unveiled a bust of the Queen, showing her aged 18 as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. It is likely that there will now be a new wave of commissions to celebrate the monarch’s life. Museums Journal, Art UK (timeline of 143 images of the Queen), Art UK, Art Newspaper (podcast), Art Newspaper, Art Newspaper, Art Newspaper, BBC
The fourth plinth and potential sites for a statue of the Queen
There has been speculation about whether the ‘fourth plinth’ in Trafalgar Square, used since 1999 as a site for modern art installations, will now be replaced by a permanent statue of the Queen. Co-chair of the Public Statues and Sculptures Association Holly Trusted said “there was always the feeling that the fourth plinth project was keeping it warm and that ultimately, it would be for the Queen. But we don’t want to see the contemporary being relinquished, so a constructive solution would be to have a fifth plinth in Trafalgar Square, which might be better suited for contemporary sculpture.” Cook Prue Leith, who as Chair of the RSA campaigned to use the fourth plinth as a contemporary art space, argues that the location is not prominent enough for a statue of the Queen, and suggests that a raised grass area outside Westminster Abbey would be an ideal place for an equestrian statue. Former NPG Director Sandy Nairne also favours a more prominent spot. He said “I’m not aware that anybody has done any kind of planning for the options for a statue to the Queen. But it needs to be splendid and wonderful. We would all need to feel it matched her reign.” The fourth plinth has recently been refreshed with a new sculpture of pan Africanist John Chilembwe, who fought against British colonial rule. The office of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said that the current showcase of contemporary art will continue as programmed for at least the next four years. BBC, Times, Guardian, Art Newspaper, Art Newspaper
Reorganisation of royal patronage of arts organisations
The Queen was patron of more than 50 arts organisations, and one consequence of her death will be a rearrangement of which royals become or remain patrons of various cultural bodies. A spokesperson for London Symphony Orchestra said “after the period of mourning all of HMQ’s charities, and indeed all of the King’s charities when he was Prince of Wales, will be working with the Palace to determine how the royal patronage is taken forward.” Design Museum Chief Executive emphasises that securing the right royal patron can be important. He said “It matters hugely and creates many more funding opportunities, both nationally and abroad.” For example, Art Fund has highlighted how the Queen’s position as patron, which she held from 1953, helped when it was seeking funds to acquire ‘Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I’ for Royal Museums Greenwich in 2016. Guardian, Art Newspaper
King Charles makes plans to turn Balmoral into a museum
Reports suggest that the King is planning to turn some royal palaces into museums, including Balmoral, used by the late Queen as her summer residence. The castle is now likely to be much less used, and could be opened up to the public with an exhibition about the Queen’s life as early as next summer. A source told The Daily Mail “Looking at the number of properties and the number of working members of the Royal Family, the King will be looking at the properties and asking: ‘What value does this give to the public?'”M + H, Independent, blooloop
Visit Britain sentiment tracker shows significant impact of cost of living
The latest sentiment tracker from VisitBritain covers views collected in the first week of September. Findings include:
Perception that the cost of living crisis will get worse is up 4% since August to 80%. Interestingly, there is also a 3% increase in the perception that ‘the worst is yet to come’ with Covid to 24%.
Adults feeling their financial situation is ‘alright’ has declined 5% since August to 15% - with only 7% feeling lucky and secure, 51% are cautious about money (up 2% since August) and 25% describe themselves as ‘hard hit’ (also up 5% since August).
Comfort with everyday activities in the light of the pandemic is unchanged at 3.2 out of 4.
However, there’s a decline of 3 – 5% in confidence that people will be able to take an overnight trip in the final three months of the year, in October (69%), November (69%) or December (63%).
Various aspects of the cost of living, including cost of holidays and fuel, fill the four top reasons for not taking a trip in the next six months, while 45% cite general cost of living.
National Trust sees visitor numbers begin to recover – but says the climate emergency is its greatest threat
The National Trust’s annual report for 2021 – 22 has described the year as one of post-pandemic recovery, with audiences, members and visitor spend growing substantially from the previous year, although generally not at pre-Covid levels:
Visitors rose from £13m to £20m
Membership rose to 5.7m after falling to 5.4m the year before.
Commercial sales rose £19.3m to £132.2m, although that remains at less than two thirds of pre-pandemic levels
The charity is conscious that it needs to provide ‘value for money’ as the cost of living crisis continues, but also says that climate action and nature loss are its top concerns. Director of Land and Nature Harry Bowell said that there are plans for restoring peatlands, planting and establishing trees and creating new areas of wetland, adding “but it is not just the land that climate change impacts. From historic houses ever more at risk of damage from torrential rainfall and heat spikes, to protecting collections from increasingly damp and humid conditions, we have to consider the impact of climate change on everything we look after." Museums Journal
Supporting teachers to arrange school trips to museums and galleries
A new report from Art Fund and the Clore Duffield Foundation explores what supports teachers to arrange school visits to museums and galleries, and highlights some of the blocks. School visits to museums and galleries are still lower than pre-pandemic, and one teacher response to a recent survey highlights the challenges: "I am 30 minutes away from Tate Britain, but going on a free gallery trip takes up to six hours to plan, including sending letters home and chasing permission slips, permission from management, risk assessment, collecting health information, cancelling school dinners, checking students have travel passes and packed lunches etc. I have one and a half hours per week planning time for all my classes." The Art Fund report highlights the information to make easily available to teachers (from curriculum areas you support to proforma risk assessments) to tip the balance in favour of arranging a trip. It says that the best channels to communicate with teachers are newsletters (used by 72%) followed by social media (54%). It also points to its own Teacher’s Art Passes, for teachers at schools with more than 16% receiving free school meals, as increasing the use of museum visits in teaching. Art Fund’s new Great Escape programme and funding offer may also be a good way to develop stronger connections with primary schools: see the ‘Funds open for applications’ section for details. Art Fund
Stuart Andrew MP has been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, with the role of Minister for Sports, Arts and Ceremonials. This includes work with libraries, museums and Eurovision. Twitter (Andrew), Gov.uk
Lord Kamall has been appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, with the role of Minister for Civil Society, Heritage, Tourism and Growth.He also takes on responsibilities for Civil Society and Youth from Nigel Huddleston. Twitter (Kamall), Gov.uk
Damian Collins has also been reappointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, focusing on tech and the digital economy. Twitter, Gov.uk
Julia Lopez returns to the post of Minister of State, which she last held in July 2022. She will focus on media, data and digital infrastructure. Gov.uk
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay is no longer working for DCMS Gov.uk
Nigel Huddleston MP is leaving DCMS to join the Whip’s office. Gov.uk
Also:The Art Newspaper has published an overview of the career of new Secretary of State for Culture Michelle Donelan. Donelan was previously Minister for Further Education, with a career before politics including posts at World Wrestling Entertainment and BSkyB’s History Channel. The Art Newpaper
Julie’s Bicycle publishes full programme for We Make Tomorrow 2022
Julie’s Bicycle has published the full programme for its one day conference, We Make Tomorrow 2022. The day will look at social and justice issues alongside environment and consist of a mix of performance, conversation and workshops. Topics covered will include community-led practice and place-making, funding climate justice, mitigation beyond net zero, creative responses and health, wellbeing and resilience. The day will be MC-ed by climate activist and school climate strike coordinator Noga Levy-Rapoport, with contributions from over 30 speakers including: Saleemul Huq, Ahdaf Soueif, Nathan Thanki, Magid Magid, Fehinti Balogun, Eric Njuguna, Harpreet Kaur Paul, Helen Starr, and Islam Elbeiti. The event also features Civic Square on its doughnut city models and MAIA, an artist-led social justice organisation. Birmingham Museums, Happy Museum and NMDC are among a number of Friends of this event. It takes place in person and online on 13th October, with live elements at Birmingham Rep & Library. Tickets are from £22 - £117. Julie’s Bicycle
TEG is offering a new workshop on the economics of touring exhibitions. It explores economic and partnership models that venues can employ to tour nationally, drawing from case studies and examples of good practice. Topics include structuring a touring programme, how to approach building a consortia of venues to work with, budgeting, fundraising and sustainable touring. The workshop takes place over two three hour sessions online on the mornings of 23rd and 30th November. Tickets are £59 for TEG members and £89 for non-members. TEG
A New Direction – Cultural Sector masterclasses for working with young people
A New Direction is running a series of Cultural Sector masterclasses – online workshops for creative learning professionals that explore current topics affecting children and young people programmes. Topics include learning from failure (28th September), inclusive progression routes in the arts (18th October), trauma informed practice (15th November), and supporting schools to teach for creativity (9th March). All events are free, and further dates and topics will be announced soon. A New Direction
Gardening in a changing world – for private gardeners and public parks
The Garden Museum is hosting an evening with Darryl Moore whose new book ‘Gardening in a Changing World’ looks at recent developments in horticulture, ecology and plant science- as well as transformations driven by the climate crisis. He offers insights into how we should design and inhabit green spaces in response, ranging from private gardens to public parks. The event takes place on 11th October from 7 – 8pm. Tickets are £15 in person and £5 for the event livestream. Garden Museum
The Equity of Recruitment - a "Fair" Process? - A Curating for Change Sector Forum
Curating for Change is running a sector forum describing how to deliver inclusive recruitment practice for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent applicants. The event is partly based on its own recent experience of recruiting disabled applicants onto its Fellow and Trainee programme at 20 partner museums across the country. By running the process itself, it was able to experiment outside standard museum practice, including with applications in formats from film to collage as well as written word, remote interviewing and questions in advance among other changes. Speakers at the event include Curating for Change lead Esther Fox, Richard Sandell of the University of Leicester, MA Workforce Development Officer Tamsin Russell plus speakers from participating museums, the Neurodiverse Museum and Fair Museum Jobs. The event takes place on 13th October from 10.30am – 3pm and is free. Findings from the forum will also inform guidance for the sector, which Curating for Change will be publishing in November. Screen South (programme and booking), NLHF (description of C4C recruitment process), Curating for Change
Energy Management: Preparing for the Winter – webinar for northern museums
The Roots & Branches programme is offering a two hour webinar for museums in the North of England on energy management in preparation for winter. Led by specialists Pilio, it will cover the nuts and bolts of boiler settings, internal temperature, fabrics and drafts, environmental sensors, night use minimisation and more. Preference will be given to non-NPOs which are accredited or working towards accreditation. The event takes place from 10am on 19th October, or from 2pm on 20th October and is free. Some follow up surgeries will also be available. MDNW
The Arts Marketing Association is offering two in depth Strategic Marketing Retreats early next year. Options are:
The Advanced Level Retreat for communications professionals looking to develop as leaders, offering insights into skills from business to inclusivity. The event takes place from 11th – 13th January in Leicester.
The Intermediate Level Retreat is for those looking to be more strategic with their marketing and in their teams, as well as development to become a manager or team leader. The event takes place from 8th – 10th February in Leicester.
An Early Bird Member rate of £995 + VAT is available for both courses until 14th October. AMA (advanced course), AMA (intermediate course)
RLUK’s ‘Inclusive collections inclusive libraries’ event series discusses decolonisation
Research Libraries UK has launched a new event series, ‘Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries’ aimed to start a conversation around decolonisation and inclusive practice in collecting, describing, presenting, and engaging with content in research library collections. It will deal with issues ranging from contextualising offensive collections to sharing good practice. The first event is ‘Surfacing History: Case Studies in Digital Discovery of African American Cultural Heritage’and is led by Dorothy Berry, Digital Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. It takes place on 18th October from 3pm and is free. RLUK (scroll to book for first event)
MCG’s Museums + Tech conference 2022 – Turning it on and off again
Museums Computer Group annual conference is this year on the theme of ‘Turning it on and off again’ – that is, looking at how users’ technology needs have changed since the pandemic and how museums have responded. The conference will look at varying situations and strategies across institutions, sharing best practices for digital futures, telling cautionary tales, and situating digital cultural heritage within the wider political and financial landscape. The event takes place on 11th November at One Birdcage Walk, London, with tickets from £0 - £129. MCG has also restarted its Corporate member programme - tickets for four members of staff are available on joining for £350. MCG
First Failspace conference: how the cultural sector can learn better from its failures
The first Failspace conference is taking place, discussing the role of failure in the cultural sector, and based on the AHRC project ‘Cultural Participation: Stories of Success, Histories of Failure’. Over the past three years the Failspace team has asked how the sector can acknowledge and learn from failure, moving beyond blame avoidance to a culture that normalises learning from mistakes. The event takes place at Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, Edinburgh on 7th December. Tickets are £10 - £75. There are some travel bursaries for those who cannot claim it back from an organisation. Failspace
Ki Futures comprehensive sustainability training - plus climate control survey
Ki Culture is offering its comprehensive international sustainability training programme ‘Ki Futures’, aiming to create sector wide change for the future. Elements of the training include a personal Ki Coach, workshops, regional and global networks and a core training programme. Price is based around carbon footprint of participants, with the expectation that reductions in energy bills alone will often meet or comfortably surpass the cost of the programme. Typically, this is £3k - £6k per year for institutions and £25- £50 per month for individuals. The group is also inviting people to fill in a two minute climate control survey ahead of a conference on the subject planned for December. Ki Culture (climate control survey) Ki Culture
The Museums Association Conference 2022 explores how museums can create better places to live and work in the post-Covid world. It will particularly address the climate crisis inequalities and racism, the legacy of empire, and wellbeing. Speakers include Corinne Fowler, Director of NT’s Colonial Countryside project, Sheila Asante, Project Manager of MGS’s Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museum, Zandra Yeaman, Curator of Discomfort at The Hunterian, Leonie Bell, Director, V&A Dundee and Ihor Poshyvailo, Co-founder of the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative and DG of the Maidan Museum, Ukraine. There will be tours and in practice events alongside talks. The three day conference can be attended in person for £260 - £525 or virtually for £45 - £600 (for all staff at institutional members). There is also a list of grants from organisations who may be able to support your attendance, and some volunteering options. Museums Journal
AIM is launching its ‘Spark!’ leadership programme to support the development of independent museum leaders. As it is funded by ACE, priority will be given to those working in England. Topics are shaped by the needs of participants but might include developing your team, a supporting the board exercise, restructuring and managing organisational culture and reputational risk, equality, diversity and inclusion, and leaving organisations. The programme will take place in two to three hour sessions from October – January 2023. Participants are asked to contribute £100 towards costs. The deadline for applications is 9am on 12th October. AIM
Museum Next announces its programme – from health and wellbeing to digital
Museum Next has announced six ‘summit’ events that it will be holding from this autumn until next May. The events will bring together international speakers online to discuss digital collections (10th – 11th October), digital exhibitions (November), health and wellbeing (February 2023), green museums (March 2023) and digital (May 2023) as well as the annual Culture Geek event in November. Ticketing options include an organisation-wide season pass for all six events for £600. Museum Next
Kids in Museums: Takeover Day and training events for working with young people
The next Kids in Museums Takeover Day – where children and young people take over tasks usually performed by adults in museums – is on 18th November with a theme of wellbeing. Museums are encouraged to sign up for the event, and make use of resources. Kids in Museums is also holding three training events – on maintaining healthy boundaries when working with young people (30th November), Front of House work with SEND families (24th November) and creating sensory backpacks for SEND families (13th November). Kids in Museums (Takeover Day), Kids in Museums (boundaries), Kids in Museums (SEND), Kids in Museums (backpacks)
In brief: new findings on the effects of museums and culture on wellbeing
A number of recent reports have touched on how access to arts and culture, including museums, is linked to wellbeing:
ACE has recently published ‘Arts, Culture & the Brain’, a literature review commissioned from UCL research group, covering findings to date. This links cultural visits with higher life satisfaction. ACE
A small study with 106 people aged over 65 based in the community suggests that a weekly virtual museum tour can help with social inclusion as well as physical and mental wellbeing. However, organisers also emphasise the need to help older people understand and get access to the internet. Guardian
Psychiatrists in city hospitals in Brussels are beginning to prescribe museum visits to patients who are past the worst of their illness. There have previously been schemes of this kind in Canada, but the six month pilot project is the first in Europe. Guardian
A larger online study of 5,000 people in the UK gives a more detailed picture than usual of how people engage with arts, crucially including whether they participate alone or together. It identifies three groups: 20% of ‘low engagers’ who were occasional readers, 44% of receptive consumers who attended some events as well as reading and listening to music. These tended to see positive links between arts activity and wellbeing. However, the last group of ‘omnivores’ (36%) were more likely to report depression and loneliness – and may possibly have been using culture as a way to address those feelings. Culture Case
Marsh Awards for Excellence in Visual Arts Engagement 2022
Nominations are open for the Marsh Awards for Excellence in Visual Arts Engagement. Individuals, or teams who have worked together on visual arts engagement projects or programmes in 2021-2022 can apply, with a deadline of 7th December. The awards are run by Engage, the charity for promoting participation in the visual arts and Marsh Charitable Trust. Engage
The Horniman Museum has won Best Heritage Garden of the Year in the London in Bloom 2022 awards. The judges particularly praised its approach to mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity, including the creation of a micro forest, the wide range of pollen bearing plants, and onsite composting. Horniman
Art Fund opens grants scheme to museums for its nature-based Great Escape programme
The Art Fund’s major Great Escape programme is inviting museums to use their collections to engage primary school children with the natural world. It culminates in the unveiling of a collective work of art on Earth Day, April 22nd 2023. The work coincides with the BBC’s Wild Isles programme presented by Sir David Attenborough, and has partners ranging from the RSPB to the World Wildlife Fund. All museums are encouraged to register their interest to take part, but for those in need of funding, Art Fund is setting up local provision with Museum Development UK, with options across the four nations:
Grants of £500 - £3k are available to individuals, or £24k for consortia.
Up to 50% of costs can be to deploy existing staff, and no match funding is needed.
Work must take place between 21st November 2022 – 1st May 2023.
Activity can include creative work with 7 – 11 year olds at local primary schools, in family settings or local community settings at any point in the project period. It could also mean creating an Earth Day event that connects back to workshop activity.
The deadline for applications is 9am on 2nd November. Art Fund (overview), Art Fund (grants guidance) NB: Cornwall Museums Partnership is interested in creating a consortium bid, reducing both admin and the risk of museums in the region competing against each other. Details here: CMP
Museum VAT reclaim scheme now open for applications
As announced last month, the Government has reopened its VAT Refund Scheme for museums and galleries to new applicants for the first time since 2018 – 19. Museums open free to the public for over 30 hours per week can apply. The process is now open, and the deadline for applications is 5pm on 3rd January. Gov.uk
New Art Fund Sir Nicholas Goodison award for contemporary craft
The Art Fund has launched a new fund to support a curator collecting contemporary craft. The Sir Nicholas Goodison Award offers up to £60k with 100% funding, for a focused collecting project enabling a curator to expand their museum or gallery’s collection of contemporary craft into new areas or deepen existing holdings in significant ways. The awardee will additionally receive generous funding for research, travel and training plus support from an Art Fund mentor. Art Fund welcomes applications from curators in the early stages of their careers and/or with limited opportunities to collect. It will consider applications from freelances with a strong connection to a particular museum or gallery collection. The deadline for applications is 3rd November. Art Fund,
Birmingham plans to use some of its £60m games underspend towards a new museum
A £60m underspend on the Commonwealth Games which took place in Birmingham this year will be retained in the region and spent on a variety of creative projects including a new science museum. Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said “the funding will help us stage an annual international festival, bid for other major events that will further boost our economy, develop plans for a new museum of science and industry, launch a long-term study tracking the impact of the Games on local people and offer support to grassroots sporting and cultural organisations.”Birmingham City Council
MGS pauses funding programme as it assesses impact of inflation
In the light of challenges to organisations caused by inflation, Museums Galleries Scotland is pausing its grants programme while it reviews the needs of the sector. The Small Grants deadline at the end of September has already been suspended, with the possibility that the Museum Development Fund deadline on 31st October will also be paused. MGS will be issuing updates, queries can be sent to [email protected]. MGS
Mindsets + Missions for Museums and Science Centres of the Future – networks and funding opportunities
A new programme ‘Mindsets + Missions for Museums and Science Centres of the Future’ is launching to attract a wider range of under-represented groups into science spaces, encouraging them to become the researchers and innovators of the future. It is funded with £750k from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Museums Association, The Liminal Space and the Association of Science and Discovery Centres will deliver the programme. There will be opportunities for organisations and practitioners to join a cohort taking an engagement programme, followed by opportunities to apply for project funding up to £75k. Full details of the plans will be announced at the MA conference on 3rd – 5th November. Museums Journal
Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is changing to better suit museum needs
The MA has announced that its longstanding Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is changing its rules and emphasis to better suit the needs of museums and their community partners. The revised fund will award the same amount of money, but with a focus around inclusion using collections. It will also fund core costs for the first time. The MA will also build in more opportunities to learn from grantees and share outcomes with the sector. Museums Journal, Museums Journal (details of changes)
Routes to offering funding beyond ‘skilled writers at resource rich organisations’
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Programme Director Michelle Wright writes for Arts Professional that although cultural funders in theory are seeking to support more diverse projects, in practice complicated funding application processes risk shutting out good projects. Many still favour skilled writers working for the resource rich organisations that can afford to employ them. Wright argues that broadening ways of accessing application materials – from audio, to EasyRead and BSL, and more varied ways of applying. – which might include through video would be a good first step to better practice. She adds that despite requests for large amounts of detailed information in existing funding applications, a 2019 survey found that grant makers still struggled to rank them. There are some examples of more imaginative practice, for example Grand Challenges, which asks for only a two page application, the Rockerfeller Foundation that uses existing grantees for sector scanning for excellence, and Ashoka and others, who find breakthrough ideas through Fellowship programmes. Wright argues that “accessibility of process, excellent ideas generation and generous peer support” are essential for better practice. Arts Professional, Grand Challenge
The V&A has become the latest museum to drop the Sackler name from its spaces and signage, following its links to the opioid crisis. In a statement the museum said “The V&A and the family of the late Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler have mutually agreed that the V&A’s Centre for Arts Education and Exhibition Road courtyard will no longer carry the Sackler name. Dame Theresa Sackler was a trustee of the V&A between 2011 and 2019, and we are immensely grateful for her service to the V&A over the years. We have no current plans to rename the spaces.” Meanwhile a documentary about artist Nan Goldin’s campaign against the Sacklers ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ is opening this weekend as part of the London Film Festival. Guardian, Art Newspaper
Latest round of Churchill Fellowships launches with new Arts and Communities category
The Churchill Fellowship is offering places on a new theme of arts and communities from the autumn, and invites applicants to take part in its ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to spend up to two months anywhere in the world discovering new ideas and best practice alongside leading practitioners. The Fellowship covers all expenses and travel costs. Fellowships are open to all UK resident citizens aged 18 or above, regardless of their qualifications, background or age, and the assessment process is based around future possibilities not past achievements. The scheme prioritises those who would not receive funding from any other source, and Fellowship research can be undertaken in person or online. For the new Arts and Communities theme, the Fellowship is particularly interested in projects that facilitate collaboration and co-creation between communities, creatives and other sectors to achieve this. Applications across all artforms are welcome, including curation, policy, education traditional arts and science. The Churchill Fellowship is running 11 themes in total this year, including climate change and rural communities. Applications are open until 5pm on 22nd November. Churchill Fellowship, (arts and communities overview), Churchill Fellowship, (blog), Churchill Fellowship, (current themes)
Charities Act 2022 to give museums new powers of disposal on ethical grounds
Provisions of the Charities Act 2022, expected to come into force this autumn, may give new routes for museums to return objects on moral grounds. The change has been highlighted by Alexander Herman, Director of the Institute of Art and Law, which specialises in law around cultural heritage. Most museums operate as charities, who under the new law will be able to make transfers of low value goods without reference to any other body, if compelled by a moral obligation, and of higher value goods with the agreement of the Charity Commission. Although several museums have returned objects with Charity Commission permission under existing law, this option has not previously been open to national museums, and Herman says that museums may not have realised the significance of the Act. This aligns with recent calls by V&A Director Tristram Hunt to revisit the National Heritage Act 1983 to extend the ability of museums to return objects. For example, V&A trustees could transfer the legal title of the ‘Eros Head’ to Turkey, an object which it still owns despite transferring it to the Istanbul National Museum for reattachment to a sarcophagus earlier this year. The V&A has not formally commented on these developments, although Director Tristram Hunt pointed to them as ‘interesting’ on Twitter. A spokesperson for the British Museum said “The British Museum, like other national institutions, is an exempt charity established by statute. We are following the progress of the new Charities Act with interest.”Guardian, Hyperallergic, Museums Journal
Also: Former Culture Minister Lord Vaizey has tabled a motion for a short debate of a Grand Committee in the House of Lords "to ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the National Heritage Act 1983." The debate will take place on 13th October. UK Parliament
V&A in new talks with Ghana over Asante gold regalia which may lead to their return
The V&A is in talks with Ghana over Asante gold regalia, which entered its collections following looting by British forces in Kumasi in 1874. Director Tristram Hunt visited Ghana earlier this year to discuss a ‘renewable cultural partnership’ around the treasures, adding “we are optimistic that a new partnership model can forge a potential pathway for these important artefacts to be on display in Ghana in the coming years.” Under current law, the V&A can only loan, not return the objects to Ghana. However, Hunt is known to want to start a discussion about potential changes to the law. Art Newspaper
Collections Trust launches new cataloguing guidance
The Collections Trust has launched Spectrum 5.1, the new iteration of its cataloguing guidance, drawing from the Rethinking Cataloguing campaign. The new guidance aims to address the ‘gatekeeper’ mentality that can be a barrier to opening up collections information, making it easier to achieve ACE’s ‘creative people’ outcomes. Updates include revised definitions and scopes for cataloguing and use of collections, new policy questions and updates to suggested procedures. There are also case studies of the changes in practice, and a discussion series exploring different aspects of the revised standard. Collections Trust, Collections Trust (Spectrum 5.1 changes in detail) Collections Trust, (register for discussion series), Collections Trust (case study from Ipswich)
ACE seeks to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% compared to 2019 – 20
ACE has updated its Environmental Responsibility Action Plan for 2022 – 24, with a target of reducing its emissions by 25% by 2024 compared to its largely pre-pandemic 2019 – 20 figures. The focus of reductions will be on the energy use across its nine offices, business travel emissions, and the footprint of loans from the Arts Council Collection. The targets have been organised in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle, with practical steps including a minimum Energy Performance Certificate across all offices, extending the Cycle to Work scheme to ebikes and transferring pensions to environmentally friendly funds. Arts Professional, ACE (twitter overview), ACE (action plan)
Cultural sector figures oppose abolition of nature protection schemes – from ELMS to investment zones
DEFRA is planning to scrap its Environment Land Management Scheme (ELMS) which was constructed by then-Environment Secretary Michael Gove to encourage farmers to protect nature and help achieve a smaller carbon footprint. Now there are suggestions it will be replaced by an old-style subsidy scheme which will pay farmers however they treat their land. Wildlife groups including RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts are running urgent campaigns to reverse the decision, and politicians across the political spectrum have expressed disquiet. Conservative former DEFRA board member Ben Goldsmith said “there are rumours that the government is considering resuscitating an old subsidy scheme in which landowners across the country will be paid per acre of land that they own, no matter how well they care for it. In 2022 – surely not.” These changes would also have an impact on heritage protection and sector bodies have spoken against it. Lizzie Glithero-West, CEO of the Heritage Alliance tweeted “this, if true, is also a significant concern for heritage. More archaeological remains are protected through current positive agricultural regimes than through official scheduling. ELMs are critical. Unthinkable what treasures would be lost for the future.” In a strongly worded tweet The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions said “we utterly support @RSPBEngland in this campaign. It’s a hideous, sobering, shocking reality that for some, there’s a more compelling, profitable case for destroying the planet than for saving it.” DEFRA did not deny the plan in a statement which reads “to boost the rural economy, food production and our food security, we will continue to support farmers and land managers by reviewing farm regulation, boosting investment and innovation in the sector.” There has also been concern that new low regulation investment zones will be allowed in national parks. National Trust Director Hilary McGrady joined wildlife and conservation groups in opposing the plans. She said “environmental protections are dismissed as 'burdens', whilst investment and growth are pitted against nature and climate action. The new Investment Zones represent a free-for-all for nature and heritage, yet we know that green spaces and beauty are vital to attract investment and for a good quality of life….The UK has led the way in recent years on environment action - from farm subsidy reform to COP26. We mustn't abandon this for our future's sake.”Twitter (Lizzie Glithero-West), ALVA (twitter), Guardian, Guardian (investment zones in National Parks), Museums Journal, Manchester Evening News,
Reduction in Ethereum power consumption makes most NFTs greener
Cryptocurrency Ethereum has reduced the amount of energy it needs to operate by 99.5% by moving from a ‘proof of work’ model, which required energy hungry activity to ‘proof of stake’. As most NFTs are on Ethereum, this removes one objection to the often controversial digital assets – although there are still widespread recent instances of celebrity-endorsed NFTs losing most of their value after sale. The Times quotes industry insiders sceptical that the largest cryptocurrency, bitcoin, will take the same path. It is currently estimated to ‘burn through more electricity annually than the Philippines’, according to the Cambridge University Bitcoin Consumption Index. Times, FT, Art Newspaper
St Mungo Museum reopens for the first time since the pandemic
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow has reopened for the first time since the pandemic. It is unique in being the UK’s only public museum dedicated to religious life and art across faiths, and promoting understanding between them. The museum has Britain’s first Zen Garden outside, as well as addressing difficult topics including violence, racism and sectarianism, including a work by war artist Peter Howson commemorating the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. Phillip Mendelsohn, Chair of Interfaith Glasgow, which launched a petition at a point when the museum was at risk from permanent closure, said “it’s such an important resource to the faith communities of Glasgow and the wider community. As a city with many refugees and asylum seekers, sharing the story of the many faiths in the city is important in building community cohesion. The importance of St Mungo’s extends far beyond the city as it is one of the few museums of comparative religion in the world.”Glasgow Times, Evening Standard, Glasgow Life, blooloop
Fashion Museum Bath moves to Old Post Office in planned city fashion quarter
Fashion Museum Bath is moving to a new location at the Old Post Office in the city centre. There will also be a new Fashion Collection Archive in Locksbrook to the west of the city, which will open in three to eight years time depending on fundraising. The whole project will cost £37m and Bath & North East Somerset Council hopes to reach the total in part through a £20m bid to the Levelling Up Fund. The new Fashion Museum site is based in the Milsom Quarter of the city which the council is developing over 20 years to become a fashion destination for the South West. Museum manager Rosemary Harden said “the collection is so extensive that we can use it as a touchstone to explore a variety of contemporary issues such as sustainability and identity… While the Museum is closed, we will develop our loans programme, so that supporters of the Fashion Museum will be able to see the collection in other galleries and museums.”Fashion Museum
Leighton House reopens after £8m makeover with new spiral staircase
Leighton House, created in the 1860s as a tribute to Arabian culture by Fredrick Lord Leighton, is reopening after a £8m makeover. Changes include a new entrance hall and shop, with shelves, counters and marquetry commissioned by Turquoise Mountain from Syrian artists working in Jordan. There is also a new spiral staircase with an 11-metre-high minaret mural by the Iranian artist Shahrzad Ghaffari. These new additions complement original features such as the Arab hall, with a fountain at its centre. The museum reopens from 15th October. Times
Kelvingrove Museum to be sold to council arm’s-length property company to meet equal pay bill
Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery is among the cultural attractions owned by Glasgow City Council that will be sold to a council-owned property company and then leased back. The move will generate £200m which will be used to settle a long running equal pay dispute, where the council was found to have underpaid its female staff for many years. Council leader Susan Aitken said "raising these kinds of sums is exceptionally challenging - and the high-profile properties involved, particularly in this second tranche, illustrates that.” However, ultimately the buildings remain in the City’s ownership and users will ‘not see any difference in how they access them on a day-to-day basis’. BBC
The National Brewing Centre at Burton upon Trent faces closure and the removal from display of half a million brewing-related collections, ranging from vehicles to equipment to memorabilia. This is because Molson Coors Beverage Company, which own the site and most of the collection is moving its headquarters into the space, and no firm alternative has been found for the museum. The council is seeking to work with the business on a solution, and 7,000 people have signed a petition calling for the current venue to remain open. One independent councillor said the current situation represents ‘the destruction of Burton’s brewing heritage’. Museums Journal
Also: The Vulcan Hotel, an historic Welsh pub which closed in 2012 and was at risk of demolition, is to be moved to St Fagan’s National Museum of History in Cardiff. It expects to reopen, with the pub pulling pints in the museum grounds in 2024. Art Newspaper
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