Here you can find frequently asked questions on the Major partner museums 2015-18 application process. 

FAQs: Major partner museums 2015-18

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What funds are available for museums?

The Major partner museum programme is one of a package of funding programmes and core services (including the Accreditation and Designation schemes) for museums. In addition to the major partner museum programme, we will support museums through other funding programmes, which will include the Museum development fund, an open grants fund for museums and targeted strategic funding.

Details about these programmes are will be available on our website, with further details on some funds to be announced later in the year. Major partner museums may be eligible to apply for funds from the other various strategic programmes that Arts Council England may develop over the 2015-18 period.

What other funds are available for museums?

For the first time a new open grants fund will invite applications from museums to support diversity and the development of resilience in the sector at a time of enormous change. The open fund is likely to launch in Autumn 2014 and will be open to all Accredited museums, except for Nationals and Major partner museums. It will focus on developing resilience and diversity in the sector.

Current Major partner museums that are unsuccessful in their bid for continued Major partner museum funding, or decide not to apply, will be able to apply to the open fund for activity that starts after 1 April 2015.

What strategic funds will be available for museums?

In keeping with arts funding, there will also be a museums strategic budget to work alongside Major partner museum funding to target particular challenges, opportunities or gaps. Further announcements will be made around these in due course but they will focus on museum development, national activities and programmes and initiatives such as international, digital and touring. Please see our strategic funds pages for full details of funding that museums can apply for.

Has the museum sector contributed to the development of the museum strategic funds?

This approach to strategic funds has been developed in consultation with cross sector bodies and through informal consultation with a variety of museums of different sizes and forms. 

What information will I need to supply in the Major partner museum application?

The principle focus of your application should be to demonstrate that your planned activities will contribute to Arts Council England’s strategic framework, Great art and culture for everyone over the period 2015-2018. Please read the guidance for applicants as this includes the full details of how applicants can show that they will contribute to the Arts Council’s goals. 

How will the funding work from the government settlement?

The climate for central government funding will remain tight. Our planning model is currently for a 6 per cent cut in real terms (4 per cent cash) to our 2015/16 Grant-in-aid budget, and then standstill funding for the following two years. We do not have a settlement ourselves for 2016/17 or 2017/18, and are making a provisional presumption of standstill funding for these years.

Organisations that currently receive Major partner museum funding and that wish to apply again for 2015-2018 should be aware that they are unlikely to receive more than their grant for 2014/15, after the reduction of 1.17 per cent has been applied in 2014/15. Organisations should take into account this 1.17 per cent cut in establishing the baseline level of investment we expect them to apply for. We are communicating revised budgets for 2014/15 to organisations in January 2014.

In this challenging economic context, some organisations will receive less than at present, a few may receive more, while others may leave the portfolio or join for the first time.

Should we apply for increased funding?

We will consider increases in funding only in exceptional circumstances; we would need to see evidence of increased ambition and also evidence that the extra funding will leverage partnership funding or additional investment from another source.

While there is little point applying for an increase if your application does not contain evidence of these elements, we will not penalise or mark down any applications that request increased amounts – this won’t be an assessment criteria.

Can the Arts Council give any clarity for organisations with dual National portfolio organisation/Major partner museum status – will they submit one or two applications?

Yes, applicants must submit two separate applications. There are distinct eligibility criteria and application guidance for Major partner museums and National portfolio organisations. The timescale for both applications is the same.

Applicants wishing to apply for both funding must show how each application:

  • 1. Supports distinctly different activity i.e. you cannot apply twice for the same activity
  • 2. Targets Arts Council England funding at different costs
  • 3. Demonstrates how you would continue to deliver Major partner museum activity if your application for National portfolio organisation funding is unsuccessful, and vice versa

Are there plans to share benchmarking data on a national scale so we can compare against Major partner museums?

National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums will continue to provide an annual report with data and evidence on the previous year’s activity, as well as progress against the funding agreement. We will expect shared approaches across arts and museums on the capture of audience data, reporting and sharing.

How important is the international element for museums, how many actual schemes are there going to be and what will they cover?

International working is very important to the resilience of English museums. As part of the application process against goal 1 we are interested in how both National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums seek to export work internationally and appeal to visitors from around the world, if appropriate to your organisation/consortia. Further programmes of international activity are likely to be announced in 2014.

Will Major partner museums be able to apply to other Arts Council England funding programmes?

Major partner museum applicants will not be eligible to apply to the open fund for museums (although existing Major partner museums who are unsuccessful in the next round will be able to apply for activity that starts after 1 April 2015). They will be able to apply to be providers of museum development services and to be a Bridge organisation, and are eligible for Grants for the arts for art-focussed activities.