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Art Fund launches grants to support Arts Council’s ‘Great Escape’ project

Image: Towner Collection Store (Phil Burrowes)

Grants for museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK have been announced for the project aimed at creating young advocates for positive environmental change through the art and objects in their local museums.

Today, Art Fund, the national charity for art, is launching grants for museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, to support participation in The Great Escape.

The Great Escape is a new flagship project which encourages young people to picture the future of the UK’s wildlife through the art and objects in museum collections.

Primary school children across the UK will explore the animals in their local museum or gallery and create an artwork imagining its journey to a natural habitat rich in life. The stories and pictures they make in the classroom, online and in museums will be brought together in a collective work of art, unveiled during a weekend of activities for all ages on Earth Day 2023.

Led by Art Fund with hundreds of museums, this is an opportunity for the next generation to explore the big subjects of climate change, biodiversity and the environment, through the power of art and imagination.

The Great Escape has been awarded a major National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England, the largest grant it has ever awarded to a museum project. It will reach all corners of the UK, including activity targeted to areas of less cultural provision.

Over 350 museums across the UK have already registered interest in taking part. The Great Escape Funds, the first of which is opening for applications on 27 September and closing at 9am on 2 November, aims to enable organisations who may otherwise not be able to participate to apply for funds to cover the costs of public events and activities.

Administered by Museum Development UK and Art Fund, grants from £500 to £3,000, and for consortia of up to £24,000, will be available to help support museums from all four nations to participate in this major project. Funding is ringfenced for each nation and will be delivered in phases.

Organisations interested in applying can visit: https://www.artfund.org/pages/the-great-escape

The Great Escape coincides with the BBC’s Wild Isles programme, a major new BBC natural history series, presented by Sir David Attenborough, revealing a previously unseen wild side of the UK. It will inspire primary school children through art and design activities on BBC Bitesize, also linked to from other BBC sites.

The Great Escape will bring together museums across the sector in association with a range of partners including the RSPB, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity protecting habitats, saving species and helping to end the nature and climate emergency and WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation, who ensure that people and nature can thrive together for generations to come.

Art Fund’s director Jenny Waldman said, “The Great Escape is a fantastic opportunity for the UK’s museums, galleries and collections to creatively engage the next generation in a positive future for our wildlife and natural environment. I hope all museums, galleries and historic houses join us and take part in the Great Escape. Where cost is a barrier, they can apply for a grant to support their activities. We are enormously grateful to Arts Council England for their generous support for this ambitious project through a major National Lottery Project Grant.”

Emmie Kell, Director for Museums & Cultural Property, Arts Council England added, “We believe that museums and collections can inspire, empower, and enrich the lives of those who visit them. We are proud to support Art Fund’s the Great Escape project which offers a unique way for children and young people to become advocates for positive environmental change through the art and objects in their local museums.

‘We want to ensure that more people benefit from museums and their impact, so I would strongly encourage all museums, galleries and historic houses to sign up and join us on the Great Escape.’