Art Fund announces £500,000 funding to support UK curators

Main Image: The Art Fund is keen to see opportunities for curators, like the one pictured at Hull Central Library, properly funded. Photograph by Janie Airey

The three programmes, seen below in more detail, have been made available by the Art Fund and represent a total of £505,000 in further funding available to support UK curators

This follows on from last year’s collaboration between the Art Fund and Headley Trust, which saw a £600,000 investment in curators

Information on how to apply for funding can be found on the Art Fund website 

Curators are the engines that drive our museums. For the past several years we have been committed to providing them with a range of opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge, and to championing the vital role they play. This group of new funding streams is another important step forward

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund

Art Fund & US-based Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation Travel Fellowship

The Art Fund & AAMC Foundation Conference Travel Fellowship will provide full funding for eight UK-based curators to travel to and attend the AAMC & AAMC Foundation annual conference in New York in May 2019.

This programme has been developed with an aim to enable UK curators to engage meaningfully and with authority on the international stage, developing their own experience and learning while also raising the profile of their institutions and collections abroad.

As well as attendance at the AAMC & AAMC Foundation annual conference, curators will be invited to take part in introductory weekend tours; benefit from a pairing with a peer US-based curator to offer collegial partnership throughout the conference; receive an invitation to the AAMC Foundation’s Program Alumni Reception, a networking event allowing attendees to connect with others engaged in professional development and with AAMC; and enjoy a 2-year AAMC membership allowing access to AAMC’s suite of curatorial development opportunities.

Following the conference, recipients of the travel fellowships will be eligible to draw down additional research and development grants to activate ideas and develop relationships established through the conference.

The conference will take place 4-7 May 2019 preceded by the weekend programme.

$72,000 (c.£55,000) Applications are now open and close 12 FebruaryEight fellowships available.

Curatorial Network Grants

Curatorial Network Grants are a new annual funding programme open to subject specialist networks (SSNs) and other curatorial networks around the UK. It is designed in direct response to research previously carried out by Art Fund which confirmed a decline in the number of curatorial and subject specialist roles in UK museums over the past decade.

Coupled with a tendency for museums to replace retiring subject specialists with more generalist curators who have responsibility for multiple collection disciplines, the research revealed, among other priorities, a need to ensure that subject specialism and expertise is accessible and shared as widely as possible among museum professionals.

The overall aim of this fund is to encourage the wide sharing of expertise, skills and knowledge across the sector, through SSNs and other curatorial networks, for the benefit of museum collections and audiences. The funding is designed to help networks:

  • Capitalise on opportunities to develop and expand their activities
  • Develop and share knowledge and skills relating to subject-specialism, professional skills and public engagement
  • Collaborate with each other and with museum audiences
  • Innovate, test new ideas and share their findings
  • Create tangible public outcomes

Applications open 25 February for large grants and close on 24 April. Applications for grants smaller than £5,000 may be submitted on a rolling basis. Funding available: £150,000.

New Collecting Awards

This scheme helps to build collections nationwide. Now in its fifth year, the New Collecting Awards enable the next generation of curators to build critical professional skills by pursuing new avenues of collecting for their museums.

Open to UK curators working with public collections, it provides grants typically between £50,000 and £80,000 to some of the most talented, early-career curators to build new collections for their respective museums. Award recipients also receive a specific allocation to use towards their own professional development, to spend on research, travel and training costs, plus the ongoing support of a mentor, Art Fund staff and trustees.

The New Collecting Awards have been made possible by a number of generous individuals and trusts including the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, the Wolfson Foundation, the Vivmar Foundation and the Coral Samuel Charitable Trust.

Through New Collecting Awards, twenty-three significant projects have been supported which innovate and expand the collections in museums, ranging from Brighton to Glasgow. Projects have included the formation of a fine art collection of LGBT culture and history at Walker Art Gallery, a collection of work exploring war and the digital at the Imperial War Museum and an inspiring new collection of artists’ moving image works at Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton.

Applications open 25 February and close 24 April. Funding available £300,000.