This year Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has made changes to the funding structure of Festival of Museums to encourage participating museums to deliver more enterprising events. MGS will fund up to 50 per cent of the cost of an event and applicants will now need to generate at least 25 per cent of the costs from external sources. This can be through a combination of cash sponsorship, in-kind support from external sources, from ticket sales or from charging for refreshments or other elements of your event. The remaining costs must be covered by the museum.

MSG research shows that introducing charges would not alienate existing visitors and feedback from visitors to Festival of Museums events in 2016 on the perception of value for money highlighted that 98 per cent who attended a paid Festival of Museums event considered it to be good value for money. And 76 per cent of visitors who attended a free Festival of Museums event would have been willing to pay a nominal admission fee (suggested £3 per person or £5 per family), while 15 per cent were not sure.

The purpose of Festival of Museums is to promote MGS’s current priorities of enterprise, skills development and advocacy. It also allows museums to be part of a national events programme and enables museums to raise their profile among their existing and potential visitors and stakeholders and supports museums to develop skills and experience in event planning, budgeting for and delivering sustainable and enterprising events

“Festival of Museums offers a chance for museums to plan events that raise their profile while developing staff skills,” said Jacqueline Hay, Head of Strategic Marketing at Museums Galleries Scotland. “In recent years our emphasis was on marketing and event planning skills. This year the focus is on supporting the sector to plan financially sustainable events and while doing so develop skills that will help to increase financial resilience.”

An examination of applications to the fund in 2016 and showed that many museums are already generating income from their events through tickets, donation boxes, sponsorship and in kind support. The difference for 2017 is that MGS is asking museums to take a risk and incorporate that income into their application form, which means that they can use the pot of money available to fund more applications.

The fund is now open and museums and all galleries in Scotland can register events to be part of the Festival of Museums before the November 25 2016 deadline. MGS is urging museums to start their application process early so that they have time to factor in changes to the application form.

MGS is holding telephone surgeries in October and November. Museums can book a slot to discuss event plans and grant applications.

The next Festival of Museums will take place from May 19 to 21, 2017.

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