Opportunities for museums to work with artists

Some museums have been working with artists for many years. It can bring new perspectives on collections and draw in new visitor groups, as well as give access to different funding sources. There are several opportunities for funding or awards for working with artists and two are described below, with the possibility of grants up to £100,000.

From Grayson Perry’s wonderful exhibition at the British Museum to Culture24’s Connect 10 competition which brings artists together with museums to celebrate Museums at Night and the many examples in regional museums around the country, artists are enhancing every area of museum’s work from exhibitions, to participatory events, work with schools and many other areas.

Whilst Connect 10 has closed for this year, Engage has just launched the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award, Artist in Residence programme for 2015. Galleries, museums and visual arts venues throughout the United Kingdom are invited to submit proposals to host the 2015 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA), Artist in Residence, worth £15,000. The Award funds a 10-week artist/s residency and public art commission to be displayed within the host venue or nearby. A further £2,000 will be made available to the host venue to cover expenses.

Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme is also open to museums who are working with artists – not just in the visual arts but work can include dance, music, literature, theatre or any other art form. There are two types of award – grants up to £15,000 which are decided in six weeks, or grants for up to £100,000 which are decided in 12 weeks.

Organisations whose normal activity is not the arts are eligible and museums are specifically mentioned in this category. It would be good to see more museums applying for Grants for the Arts. There is even a guidance sheet specifically for museums, explaining what types of projects are eligible and what the benefits are of working with artists as well as giving examples of previous Grants for the Arts awards to museums.

The guidance sheet points out the benefits for artists of working with museums include:

  • helping arts and culture reach more people and engage a broader audience
  • providing innovative opportunities for artists to create work in new settings and inspired by a range of subject matters
  • maximising different sources of funding, resources and assets

If you put together an application, it is important to ensure that the arts content will be of excellent quality, in line with Arts Council England’s first goal “Excellence is thriving and celebrated …” The artist or arts organisation who you will be working with will be able to help you fill in the part of the application form about how the project will help their artistic development. Other elements of the application include how you will engage with the public, how the project will be managed and the project’s finances.


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