Arts Council England has budgeted up to £20 million for a new fund to support cultural organisations, including museums, in adjusting buildings and equipment for safe post-pandemic operation, improving access, seizing tech opportunities and reducing environmental impact.

Its Capital Investment Programme will make grants available from £100,000 to a maximum of £750,000 to museums, alongside other cultural organisations.

It said it will invest in projects which can “clearly demonstrate that their primary aims are around culture” and that the activities applied for fall within the Arts Council England remit.

Projects to receive funding will also have to deliver on the Arts Council’s four ‘Investment Principles, set out in its ten year strategy: Ambition & Quality, Dynamism, Environmental Responsibility, and Inclusivity & Relevance.

Decisions will also be made with consideration for the type of activity, the diversity of the organisation’s leadership, and the extent of the risks to the overall balance of projects when providing grants.

It will also consider geographical location, and has made reference to the 54 ‘priority places’ that it this week identified across the UK,.

It said it will use these priority places to guide its investment “in areas where opportunities for creative and cultural engagement are underdeveloped.”

Chartered Institute of Fundraising October 2021

Arts Council England's 54 ‘priority places’

South West
Gloucester
Gosport
Isles of Scilly
Isle of Wight
The New Forest
North Devon
North Somerset
Portsmouth
Rushmoor
South Somerset
Swindon

South East
Basildon
Crawley
Dover
Fenland
Great Yarmouth
Luton
Medway
Peterborough
Slough
Tendring

Midlands
Ashfield
Bolsover
Boston
Chesterfield
Dudley
East Lindsey
Nuneaton & Bedworth
NE Derbyshire
Mansfield
Sandwell
Stoke on Trent
Walsall
Wolverhampton

North
Barnsley
Barrow in Furness
Blackburn with Darwen
Blackpool
Copeland
County Durham
Kirklees
Knowsley
NE Lincolnshire
Rochdale
Rotherham
Selby
South Tyneside
Tees Valley Combined Authority
Wigan

London
Barking & Dagenham
Brent
Croydon
Enfield
Newham

Among those eligible for the new funding are Arts Council accredited non-national English museums, and museums confirmed by the Arts Council as working towards accreditation.

Around 1,300 English museums are currently accredited or provisionally accredited according to Arts Council data.

The investment programme sits within one arm of the Arts Council’s ten year strategy, Let’s Create, in a section titled ‘Building a Fit for the Future’ Cultural Sector’.

This section warns of a potentially slow journey out of the pandemic for cultural organisations, and its planned support to help them adjust to a “new and more uncertain working environment”.

In its strategy document, it says that lockdown has created a “momentum for change”, and that to be ‘fit for the future’, cultural organisations will have to change too.

In doing so, it says, they will be “better able to navigate the challenges and opportunities that the legacy of the pandemic will bring, while delivering high-quality, engaging work to an ever-wider audience”.

The Capital Investment Programme, which is not set to return in 2022/23, replaces its previous two capital funds – an annual funding round for capital applications between £100k to £499,999 (small capital grants) and a separate application process for capital grants above £500k (large capital grants)- for the period of its first Delivery Plan 2021-2024.

The online Expression of Interest form will be open on Grantium between 12 noon on 5 October 2021 and 12 noon on 26 October 2021. Guidance for applicants from applicants can be accessed here.

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