Cultural Investment Fund

Regional museums and libraries biggest winners from new £250m DCMS fund

Article: David Styles | Image: A rendering of the transformed National Railway Museum, which has now received a major funding boost from the Cultural Investment Fund © National Railway Museum

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will invest £250 million in a range of cultural organisations and projects over the next five years, with half of this sum ring-fenced for regional museums and libraries.

The freshly-announced Cultural Investment Fund is described by culture secretary Nicky Morgan as the Government’s “biggest ever single investment in cultural infrastructure, local museums and neighbourhood libraries”. This, she asserts, will benefit communities across the country and “help drive growth, rejuvenate high streets and attract tourists to our world-class cultural attractions”.

Of the headline-grabbing £250 million fund, more than half will be ploughed into regional museums and libraries around the country. Over £90 million will also be channelled into extending the existing Cultural Development Fund.

“At a time when the eyes of the world are turned to Britain,” Sir Ian Blatchford, chairman of the National Museum Directors’ Council, noted, “it is encouraging to see further funding for culture, following the recent positive spending round.”

Where the money will go

The funding will be allocated to projects and initiatives including:

  • The £90 million, five year extension of the existing Cultural Development Fund, designed to enable more than 20 UK sites to transform their local cultural and creative industry infrastructure
  • Major infrastructure and maintenance work at local and regional museums, safeguarding collections and local landmarks and improving the prospects for commercial and community use
    *This particular investment focus has been guided by the recommendations from the Mendoza review
  • Upgrading buildings and technologies at public libraries across England
  • £18.5 million will be used to support work already under way to transform the National Railway Museum. This falls within the York Central redevelopment project, believed to have the capacity to create 6,500 ‘high-value jobs’ and up to 2,500 new homes
  • £37 million in additional funding to support Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021

The entire investment will be delivered by the DCMS, with Arts Council England playing an integral role in distributing the funds. National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, too, will take on important roles such as the delivery of the museums maintenance fund.

Arts Council England chair, Nick Serota, said the investment is “exciting news for culture and for communities across the country”. After placing on record his gratitude to the culture secretary, he added: “We know that towns and villages up and down England will benefit from investment in local libraries and museums, and in new jobs in our growing creative industries. We’ll work closely with Government to develop the detail of the programme in the coming days and weeks.”

After it was confirmed the National Railway Museum would receive £18.5 million to support its transformation, director of the organisation, Judith McNicol, said it was wonderful news for both the museum and city of York. The investment, she states, is an “extremely significant milestone in realising our £55m Vision 2025 campaign to turn our museum into a truly world-class attraction. It is the springboard for unlocking our role as the cultural heartbeat of York Central – one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in Europe.”

Another of the beneficiaries from the announced funding spike is Coventry and its City of Culture agenda for 2021. “This new investment will ensure that we are able to deliver the most extraordinary year of events in 2021, welcoming more than 2.5 million extra visitors and laying the foundations for a meaningful legacy for one of the UK’s most youthful and diverse cities and region,” according to Martin Sutherland, chief executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust.