Three independents join MPM museums

Arts Council England has announced five new Major Partner Museums (MPMs) for 2015-18, three of whom are independent museums.

Independent museums Black Country Living Museums (with Culture Coventry Museums ), Derby Museums Trust (with Nottingham Museums) and Museums Sheffield have been awarded MPM funding. The other new MPMs are Hull City Council and Penlee House Museum and Gallery, the latter as part of a consortium of six museums including independents Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, National Maritime Museum Cornwall and Wheal Martyn.

John Orna-Ornstein, Arts Councils Director of Museums, told AIM,

I’m really pleased that we’re able to widen the portfolio to 21 museum services and partnerships. We received an extremely strong set of applications – significantly stronger than in the last funding round – and additional funding means we can have a much wider geographic spread of MPMs this time around. Unfortunately, the high demand and level of competition means that a number of very good applications weren’t successful. The new portfolio includes some exceptional independent museums including Beamish, Ironbridge and a new partnership led by the Black Country Living Museum.

These new MPMs join several existing independent MPMs including: Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Beamish, York Museums Trust, Birmingham Museums Trust and Tuille House. All the existing MPMs will continue to receive MPM funding in 2015-18 though at reduced levels.

Tony Butler, Director of new MPM, Derby Museums Trust and AIM Council member said,

We are really pleased that the East Midlands now has a major partner museum. Derby’s partnership with Nottingham brings together two city museum organisations, one independent, one local authority but both committed to extending participation and being more entrepreneurial. From Derby’s perspective we are pleased that ACE recognised our innovation in co-producing our museums with the public and commitment to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths).

ACE states:

Funding to Major partner museums will increase to £22.6 million per year in 2015/16, This includes an additional £1.1 million, which has been added to the overall museums budget to encourage a greater geographical spread.

The increased investment offers greater opportunities throughout the country, not just in terms of geographic spread, including both rural and urban museums; it also allows our Major partner museums to provide a wider leadership role.

In the Midlands two new Major partner museums have been introduced. They are a partnership between Derby and Nottingham Museums, and a coalition including Black Country Living Museum and Coventry. These will bring strong and creative programming across the Midlands – as well as innovative leadership.

The For Cornwall Museums Partnership is a fine example of consortium working, with six leading museums in Cornwall coming together for the first time as a Major partner museum and collaborating with many museums across the county. This partnership demonstrates that excellence can thrive in museums in rural areas.

Elsewhere, Museums Sheffield shows an innovative approach to display and programming as well as a robust business model and is another of our new Major partner museums. Hull Museums also joins to help build the city’s capacity in anticipation of its year as City of Culture in 2017.

Black Country Living Museum was awarded £886k, Derby Museums £854k, Hull City Council £841k, Sheffield Museums £600k and Penlee £500k. Five applicants were unsuccessful.

ACE has also commented on its other funding for museums from 2015-18:

An open application programme will provide project funding with a focus on building resilience in the sector. Priorities include encouraging new income streams and helping museums connect with their communities. A national network of museum development will continue with, and improve on, our current work, with a high quality, consistent offer across the country.

We will use strategic funds to support national projects and programmes that focus on specific areas of opportunity, including international exchange and export, digital work and partnerships with higher education establishments and National museums.

More information about strategic funding for museums, including the £10m Open Fund, here.

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