Good News For English Museums From Arts Council England

Arts Council England have announced changes to the way it will approach its investment, from 2018. Funding for Museums and Libraries will be brought together with funding for the arts for the first time, with museums able to apply both to be National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) and for Grants for the Arts and Culture.

AIM’s new Chair, Richard Evans, Director at Beamish, has welcomed this news and writes here about the positive impact that these changes will have for AIM members in England.


AIM’s new Chairman, Richard Evans, Director at Beamish, has welcomed the news today from Arts Council England

 AIM is really pleased to see the changes announced today by Arts Council England (ACE)  and we really welcome the new opportunities they will create for English museums of all shapes and sizes because for the first time, museums and libraries will be part of the Arts Council’s investment portfolio and funding agreements for the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations will be lengthened from 3 to 4 years, to allow organisations more time to put their business plans in action.

AIM appreciates having been involved as the ideas have been developed – and we can see that ACE have listened very carefully to museums including the views of our members. The feedback has been used to inform the Arts Council’s investment process from 2018 and the new NPO applicant guidance and further details about Grants for the Arts and Culture, and strategic funds, will be published in October 2016.

In some senses this marks the moment when museums have finally become integrated into the work of Arts Council England. We particularly welcome the news that all museums will be able to apply to the Arts Council’s largest fund, Grants for the Arts and Culture. This is a bold move – and the right one we think – to help ACE deliver on its own goals and ambitions. Making sure their investment goes much further and reaches more people.

To slightly badly paraphrase the Arts Council’s strategy – we know museums deliver truly great experiences for everyone. AIM is confident these changes will help demonstrate that a broader portfolio of investment by ACE – reaching all types of museums across England including many more independent organisations – will create real and lasting benefits. Benefits to our museums and how they work – but most importantly of all perhaps – benefits to the millions of people we reach every year.

Our experience suggests that so often the greatest returns are created by modest investments in the right organisation, at the right time. We also know that sometimes the best ideas are to be found in the very smallest museums. Biggest does not always mean best.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that independent museums represent more than two thirds of all museums in England – and employ half of the sector’s entire paid workforce too. AIM looks forward to supporting independent museums to take up the opportunity presented by Arts Council’s new funding programmes, to generate some brilliant ideas and truly original projects, creating valuable experiences for people from all backgrounds to enjoy.

Other responses

AIM’s previous Chair, Dr Matthew Tanner, took part in an Arts Council England panel discussion about the changes to the Arts Council England investment process. He said “From a museum perspective, this is a radical change as it will allow innovation to grow in all sorts of places. We will see people seeding this opportunity all over the place – it’s very exciting.” You can listen to the discussion HERE

John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Museums for ACE described the change of Grants for the Arts to Grants for the Arts and Culture: “This major new fund will have a broad remit – to develop great art and cultural activity for everyone – and will typically support applications between £1,000 and £100,000. This is a significant new potential source of funding for museum activity and will open in January 2018.”

Welcoming the overall changes, he said: “I am confident that these plans are a strong, dynamic response from the Arts Council to the challenges and opportunities facing museums, as well as the wider arts and cultural sector. They will allow us to make strategic decisions about individual places and will support partnership-working across museums and the arts.”

The full announcement of the changes plus the downloadable ComRes Report on the sector consultation and the Arts Council’s recommendations on the investment approach can be found on the Arts Council England website here:

 Changes to Arts Council England’s 2018 investment approach




AIM Tender Opportunity

Many museums are facing difficult financial times and are looking at ways of increasing their income. For an increasing number this includes considering introducing admission charges.

For museums thinking of taking this step, there are many strongly held views to consider. There are plenty of examples of successful museums that do charge for admission, but there is a paucity of evidence about what the impact of moving from free admission to a charged model might be: on their museum’s visitors, reputation, visitor income and secondary spend.

AIM, working with Arts Council England, wishes to commission research which will fill this gap and enable museums to make evidence-based decisions about whether charging for admission is right for them, how to manage the transition effectively and what the impacts might be.

Proposals are invited from consultants with experience of this type of study and should be submitted by 19th January 2016.

The brief and details of how to submit a proposal can be downloaded below.

Invitation to Tender AIM Admission charges

AIM is recruiting for an Assistant Director

AIM is looking for a strategic-thinker who is great at developing relationships, to take on the new position of Assistant Director. This is a great opportunity for someone looking for a leadership role to work with AIM’s energetic staff team and high-profile Council, to shape and deliver an ambitious new programme to support museums and help them to prosper. 

If you are interested in applying please download and read the following documents:

How to apply – AIM Assistant Director

Job Description and Person Specification – AIM Assistant Director

Introduction to AIM – Assistant Director

Job Advertisement for AIM Assistant Director

 £34,000 to £36,000, Full-time, Working From Home, (4 days per week may be considered)

A rare opportunity to join a growing and successful organisation in a high profile, strategic and extremely varied role, making a practical difference to large and small independent museums and heritage organisations across the UK.

AIM works hard to help and support its 1000+ members – some of the UK’s most innovative, resourceful and passionately-run museums and heritage organisations. This is an exciting time for AIM: our small, friendly staff team is expanding and we have a high-profile, exciting, new project to deliver, which will help our members prosper through developing their organisation’s purpose, culture, governance and leadership.

You will play a central role in both AIM and the ‘AIM Hallmarks and Investing in Independence’ project, working with leading museum directors, consultants and AIM’s Executive Director to ensure our new project is delivered to the highest standards and achieves AIM’s ambitions. Your strengths should be in:

  • Seeing the ‘big picture’ and planning and prioritising accordingly
  • Building relationships
  • Managing and delivering projects and reporting on progress at a senior level

You will be friendly and approachable, confident and reliable working on your own initiative, but enjoy the stimulus of collaborating with others. We will ensure that you have excellent opportunities for personal development whilst working with AIM. For more information about AIM visit

This is a new position with a fixed-term contract to 31 March 2018. Hours are flexible.  

To apply: email a maximum two page letter explaining why you would like the job and how you meet the requirements in the person specification, with a copy of your CV (maximum 3 pages), to Please state any access requirements for the interview. Your application should arrive by 1pm on Monday 11th May 2015.

Interviews will be in London on 20th or 21st May 2015.

If you’d like to discuss the role please email Tamalie Newbery, AIM’s Executive Director, at to arrange a mutually convenient time.

This position is funded by Arts Council England. ACE Twitter

British Museum National Partnerships Conference 2015

The National Programmes team will host a free conference at the British Museum to explore ideas around the Curator of the Future on Monday 13 April 2015.

Further information will be circulated about the conference soon, but for now please save the date and circulate to colleagues you feel may be interested in attending and participating.

The landscape of the sector is changing and curatorial practice needs to be responsive, we want to open up a debate with museum professionals across the UK to question: what will it mean to be a curator of the future?

The team will be circulating a call for papers in the coming weeks but we’d also be keen at this point to hear any ideas for presentations or suggestions for speakers you may have.


Topics for discussions are still in development and could be shaped by your ideas but will fit around 3 key themes:

  • The Curatorial Survival Kit: what should be in the curatorial survival kit to thrive in the changing landscape?
  • A Brave New World: income generation and commercial activity, digital technology and online data. What are the impacts and opportunities for curatorial practice?
  • The Next Generation: traineeships and development programmes; academic partnerships and nurturing expertise. How can we help support the current and future  curatorial work-force?

The conference is open for delegates from across the UK to attend, to enable this, there will be some travel bursaries made available on a case by case basis.

For further information please contact:

Katy Swift –

National Programmes Co-ordinator

The British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG,

T:020 7323 8266

 Post created from a Press Release via the British Museum

AIM responds to the Museums Association Code of Ethics consultation

The Museums Association have been consulting with the museum sector about the Code of Ethics. AIM is grateful to the Museums Association for leading the review of this important document and has submitted a response to the consultation. The key points are summarised below and there is a link to the full response.

The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) is the national organisation connecting, supporting and representing independent museums and galleries, which form the majority of the UK’s museums. AIM’s membership includes 800 museums, from the largest institutions to the smallest, volunteer-run museums.

Summary Points:

  1. Cross-sector support: The Code needs to be a document that the whole sector endorses and can unite behind, otherwise it may well be ineffective in helping to meet current challenges such as unethical sale of collections. In order to ensure this is achieved a cross-sector working group is needed.
  2. Museum specific and based on ethical principles, not policy aspirations: The code should be concerned with issues that are specific to museums. It should be concerned with matters of ethics only: it should not replicate the existing legal framework within which museums operate and it should not include policy positions or general guidance. Museums are extremely diverse and the Code should identify matters of principle, but not be prescriptive about how those principles should be applied by individual museums.
  3. Short format based on key ethical principles: A shorter format, based on key principles relevant to museums (AIM proposes – Stewardship, Access and Integrity), should be used. This should be supported by more in-depth guidance or toolkits in separate documents, where needed.
  4. For museum organisations and museum professionals: The code should be drawn up with a clear understanding of who it is for. It should be used by all decision-makers in museums and museum organisations should sign up to it through the Accreditation process as well as museum professionals through the AMA: as such, it should be accessible to lay-people such as Trustees.
  5. Linked to Accreditation: The Code should be effectively linked to Accreditation as the framework for baseline national standards for museums and galleries.
  6. Robust challenge: The Code must be in practice robust enough not only to withstand quasi-legal challenge, but also clear enough that a simple independent arbitration process can elucidate what is considered ethical behaviour from the unethical. The Arts Council Accreditation panel could well be an appropriate arbiter for judgments of this kind.

You can read AIM’s full response here. AIM response to Code of Ethics consultation Feb 2015

Does Your Museum Deserve Recognition? Enter The Art Fund Prize 2015

The Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year celebrates museums and galleries across the UK – annually awarding one outstanding winner £100,000.

Museum of the Year identifies the finest museums in the UK and awards £100,000 to the very best. The Prize champions what museums do, encourages more people to visit, and gets to the heart of what makes a truly outstanding museum.

Applications are now open – please visit their website (and good luck!)



Safeguarding in Museums – who needs a DBS check?

SHARE East (the Museum Development service in East of England) and Community Action Suffolk have produced very clear guidance, specifically for museums, on who should and should not have a DBS check.

Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS checks) replace the former Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for people working with children or vulnerable adults.

You can download the guidance here.

China-UK Connections Development Grants Open for Applications

China-UK Connection through Culture Development Grant Round 18/中英文化连线发展基金第18期开放

The British Council is pleased to announce the launch of the 18th round of the China-UK Connections Development Grant. The grant will enable one member of staff from your organisation to visit your counterparts in China or the UK between February and July 2015, with the aim of furthering the face-to-face discussions needed to develop projects between you and your counterparts.

China-UK Connections through Culture programme offers support, information, advice, networking opportunities and development grants to cultural organisations in China and the UK, aiming to build long lasting relationships and to develop exciting cultural collaborations between organisations between the two countries.

Application open: Monday, 13 October 2014
Application deadline: Sunday, 7 December 2014
Results out: Friday, 9 January 2015
For visits taking place between February and July 2015

Read the full announcement and a downloadable application form:

This will be the last CtC grant round.


Book your place for the Annual Convention of Association of Cultural Enterprises


The annual ACE Convention & free-to-enter Trade Show will take place on Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th March 2015 at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) in  Bournemouth, Dorset. They have made the following announcement:

The main events will be held at the BIC with the social events and the range of hotel accommodation being in venues very close by, all within 5-10 minutes walking distance. We have selected a range of hotel accommodation to suit each budget and hotel bookings are now open  via this dedicated ACE booking portal.

We will have a terrific programme of speaker sessions and topical keynotes,  and a bigger trade show than ever with over 80 stands this year. Watch this space for details of the seminar programme and the list of exhibitors, to follow later this autumn.

The BIC Bournemouth is a great location for the ACE Convention next year. Not only is it set against the stunning backdrop of the Dorset coastline and cliffs, but the transport links by road, rail and air could not be more convenient. Twice hourly trains from London together with flights from many major UK city airports into Southampton (only a short train ride directly from the airport  to Bournemouth) make this a must do destination for those working across the heritage sector.

And we could not make it any easier! The Trade Show is completely free to visit – only pre-registration is required – whilst delegate rates have been held at 2013 levels once again, making the ACE Convention and Trade Show not only the most relevant event for members and non-members but surely the very best value too.

Book here for the 2015 Convention and Trade Show – Early Bird delegate bookings are being taken from now until 31st January 2015 and represent a 30% saving.

See what our delegates in York  thought about the event in 2014!

More funds available through AIM Sustainability Grants

AIM is pleased to announce the re-launch of the AIM Sustainability Grants, funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The new programme has revised grant criteria and a larger amount of funding to be distributed to small and medium sized museums. The key changes are detailed below.

The Sustainability Grants were first launched in 2006. Since then over 240 museums have benefited from grants of over £600,000 to help them improve their organisational sustainability. An independent evaluation of the programme earlier this year, found that in many areas there were no similar funding schemes available to museums and that there were over 300 eligible AIM members who had yet to benefit from a grant, indicating considerable, ongoing need for support. As a result the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation not only agreed to renew the scheme for a further three years, but also increased the amount available for grants from £60,000 p.a. to £75,000 p.a.

In order to ensure the Sustainability Grants continue to meet museums’ needs their have been some amendments to the eligibility criteria, guidance notes and assessment criteria, which will apply from the next round of grants, the closing date for which is 15th January 2015. If you intend to apply please make sure you use the new application form and refer to the new guidance, which are available on the AIM website.

The grants will continue to fund similar projects to those supported in previous rounds. However, we are keen to see more applications that focus on the long-term sustainability of a museum by looking at its organisational health (e.g. through governance reviews, business planning etc). Applications that will help generate more income for the museum will also continue to be eligible.

Applicants are asked to say whether their grant is for income generation or organisational health and ensure that their proposed project outcomes are relevant to the type of application they are making. The grant committee welcome innovative ideas for income generation and accept that they bring a degree of risk, but would still expect to see such projects being well planned.


  • The applicant must be an AIM member and can be based in any part of the UK.
  • The applicant must be an accredited museums, or have ‘working towards accreditation’ status.
  • It must have fewer than 50,000 visitors p.a. (previously 60,000 visitors) OR  a turnover of under £300,000.
  • The applicant must be a registered charity. It is possible for a registered charity such as a Friends organisation to apply on behalf of a local authority museum with which they are associated but in this case the registered charity and the museum must both be members of AIM.
  • A small museum that meets the eligibility criteria in its own right may apply, even if it is part of a larger organisation, but in this case both the museum applicant and the parent organisation must be members of AIM.

The new application form and guidance notes also provide information about amendments to the assessment criteria which the committee use to assess all applications.

As always, Justeen Stone is very happy to discuss your application with you before you apply. If you have any questions please feel free to contact her –