Art Fund reveals new museum funding and 2021 figures

Image: Aberdeen Art Gallery, Co-winner of Museum of the Year 2020 © Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2020

The charity has announced more than £2m in new funding schemes as it reveals an upwards trend in museum income and visitors

This summer Art Fund is to open new funding schemes for applications totalling over £2m, available through its Reimagine grants and the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.

From 4 July – 12 September, arts organisations will be eligible to apply for support of between £10,000 to £50,000 as part of Art Fund’s Reimagine grants. The Reimagine grants have been designed for projects that help organisations reimagine their approach to engagement – with audiences and communities, but also with their collections, resources and workforce.

The charity will continue its partnership with Museum Development UK (MDUK) which will distribute £200,000 of the £2m available. The funding is designed for small- to medium-sized museums across the UK, who are set to benefit from a combination of reset grants and resilience programmes.

Applications open at the end of June for the The Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, which enables museums to borrow important works from major lending museums and galleries.

Art Fund said the scheme has “dramatically boosted” visitor numbers to smaller institutions and has “significantly widened the lending pool of objects from major collections, through funding costs such as transportation, conservation and training”.

The Art Fund Museum of the Year award will also see one museum receive a £100,000 prize thus year. The five shortlisted museums selected for the award are Derby Museums, Museum of Making, Horniman Museum and Garden, People’s History Museum, The Story Museum, and Tŷ Pawb.

The winning museum will be announced on 14th July 2022 at a ceremony in the Design Museum. The winner will receive £100,000, while the four runners up will each receive £15,000.

The announcement of the funding coincides with the release of Art Fund’s latest annual figures. It shows grants totalling £5.8m were given across its programmes in 2021, and helped 290 objects enter UK collections.

The latest results also suggest an upwards trend in terms of income and visitors to UK museums, with both steadily returning – at 68% and 61% of pre-pandemic levels respectively.

They also reveal that emergency funding was “essential to supporting the sector”, with 84% of all organisations accessing emergency or recovery support.

Director of Art Fund Jenny Waldman said: “Our latest annual report shows Art Fund’s breadth and depth of support for a rapidly evolving museum sector. Our vision for the next five years builds on our 119-year history of building public collections, connecting it with our burgeoning role helping to build and broaden audiences and amplify the work of more than 800 museums across the UK.”