Arts Council England has today, Tuesday 13 September, opened applications for the revised Renaissance in the Regions major grants programme for regional museums.
We have also published Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone – the document which sets out how we will place museums and libraries at the heart of the organisation.
Both moves come as part of the preparation for the Arts Council assuming key responsibilities formerly held by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) from 1 October 2011. Since agreeing in December 2010 to take on these key functions, we have been working to develop funding programmes and to secure the best expertise to provide ongoing support to museums and libraries. The ultimate aim is a fully integrated cultural offer that inspires more people to get involved with the arts, museums and libraries.
We have a budget of £46 million a year for our new responsibilities with £43.6 million set aside for Renaissance in the Regions – a 15 per cent reduction in the Renaissance budget for 2012-15 when compared to the last spending period.
The funding for the reworked Renaissance major grants programme – which replaces the MLA's core museums fund – is £20 million a year. For the first time, major grants to regional museums will be awarded via an open application process, assessed against published criteria, in a similar fashion to our National portfolio funding process for arts organisations earlier this year. We hope that by opening up the application process a new mix of museums across the country will find support through Renaissance.
Applications open today (13 September) and close on 2 November. Funding decisions will be announced towards the end of January 2012. Grants of between £500,000 and £2 million will be awarded for a period of three years, April 2012 – March 2015, and only accredited museums with designated collections will be eligible to apply. Face to face briefings for museums interested in applying are taking place throughout the country this week. Visit the Renaissance major grants programme page for full details of the criteria and application process and to download the briefing presentation.
The major grants programme is one of the four key parts to Renaissance – an improvement programme for regional museums that Arts Council England sees as the key way to drive excellence and deliver long term change in museums in England, with the aim of attracting more visitors to museums and enabling people to experience them in new and innovative ways. Find out more about the programme and our investment.
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: 'Our National portfolio application process for the arts was a major step forward in making regular funding available to a wider range of arts organisations and today we are offering a similar opportunity to regional museums through this revised Renaissance programme.
'As ever, our resources are limited and we will not be able to fund every application we receive – we expect that some organisations will no longer be funded but others will be offered support for the first time. However,our ambitions for culture in this country are undiminished and we intend to grasp the exciting opportunities presented by our expanded role.
'We recognise and celebrate the fact that arts organisations, museums and libraries are distinct from each other and offer a wealth of different experiences. From the community to the university library, a small independent museum to a large regional collection, or a small poetry publisher to a national theatre company, there is a real cultural richness that everyone can enjoy.
'We'll also be playing a focused role in supporting and developing libraries, through initiatives like the Future Libraries programme, and I look forward to working with arts organisations, museums and libraries across the country to really bring the cultural offer together for the benefit of audiences.'
We hope that Culture, knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone will act as a starting point for conversations and informal consultation over the coming year to help shape a single vision for the arts and culture from 2015.
Further details of other Renaissance funding, and of support for libraries, will be announced in the coming months.