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Museums in the South West awarded £1million from Arts Council England Renaissance funding

  • Date: 5 March 2014
  • Area: South West
Neolithic axe display at Wiltshire Museum

Wiltshire Museum: Neolithic axe display. Credit: Wiltshire Museum

In the latest round of Arts Council England's Renaissance funding, fourteen South West organisations are set to receive more than one million pounds.

The museums have been successful in securing funding from both the Renaissance Strategic support fund (RSSF) and the Designation development fund (DDF) strands of Arts Council England's wider Renaissance programme.

Renaissance funding supports an improvement programme for regional museums that drives excellence and delivers long term change in museums in England. The aim is to attract more visitors to museums and help people experience them in new and innovative ways. More specifically, the RSSF and DDF encourage excellence and aim to improve long-term sustainability and resilience of museum collections.

The South West is home to a wide range of museums, reflecting the rich cultural and historical wealth of the area, from collections displaying some of the first contacts between Europeans and Pacific Island peoples to one of the most important archaeological collections in a regional museum in the country.

In the South West there were nine successful recipients of the RSSF who will receive a total of £686,472:

In Hampshire Jane Austen's House Museum, home to the author for the last eight years of her life, has been open to the public for the last 60 years. The organisation has prioritised year round public access and will use this award to capitalise on this by significantly developing their programming for the low season, to build new non-specialist audiences and foster community relationships.

Mary Guyatt, Curator, Jane Austen's House Museum, says: 'We are delighted to have been awarded our first Renaissance Strategic Support Fund award. Jane Austen's House Museum is already open 330 days of the year and this grant allows a series of enhancements designed to encourage new visitors during our quieter low-season.'

Five organisations in the area will receive a total of £361,038 through the DDF:

Wiltshire Museum, who had successful applications to both the RSSF and the DDF, will use their grants towards a touring programme that interprets their natural history collections while building the profile and audience of smaller partner museums. They will also focus on collections care, oral history archives and development of new, original displays.

David Dawson, Director, Wiltshire Museum says: 'We are delighted to have been awarded these grants by the Arts Council which are a massive vote of confidence in museums across Wiltshire and Dorset. The funding will support two major touring exhibitions - Thomas Hardy Country and Wiltshire in 100 Objects - that will showcase collections from all our museums.'

Plans are now well advanced for the Arts Council's total investment approach to museums for 2015-18. Funding will be available right across England for a wide range of museums with further details on these changes to be publicised later in the year.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'The South West has a wealth of museums delivering ambitious programmes and housing world class collections; now, through these initiatives, we are delighted that resilience and sustainability will sit at the heart of these institutions.

'Through the sharing of expertise and knowledge the Renaissance Strategic support and Designation development funds will drive excellence and deliver long term change in museums in England, with the aim of attracting more visitors to museums and enabling people to experience them in new and innovative ways.'

Find out more about our overall investment plans for museums 2015-18 

Read more about the
Strategic support fund and the Designation development fund