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Grants & Fundraising



The Holy Grail - regular Subsidy or Endowment.

Many Museums are supported or subsidized on a regular basis. National Museums are funded from the DCMS, while local authority museums support local and regional museums. Univeristy, regimental, professional body and company museums are supported by their parent body.

Other independent Museums are financed from trading profits, grants and fund-raising but are without regular subsidy.

Is there any Trust without a Trust?

There is a school of thought that local authority and museums dependent upon a company/professional body might benefit from the establishment of an independent Trust dedicated to the Museum. Without a trust the Museum is at the mercy of the parent body. This makes planning difficult for the Museum, for the vagaries of politics and ruling bodies means that funding can be cut off or reduced often at short notice.

But, although an independent trust can give a museum independence it can have the effect of lessening the committment of the parent body which may well be translated into reduction of, or even elimination of the subsidy. Hence it is very risky for a Museum to make the transistion from subsidized to Independent Trust.


Other than government and professional bodies there are not many sources of finance which will provide a guaranteed regular subsidy. Some Museums, particularly american Museums, have sophisticated fund-raising operations which can build endowments large enough to provide income to subsidise revenue. Endowments were the means by which the Medieval Monasteries (and American Univerisites and Museums) operate. While they can give a Museum much needed financial stability, they are not immune from financial disaster if the funds are affected by credit crunches and bad investment decisions.




Other Grant Sources

Most other grant sources are project based. Each region in Britain's has a council for museums, archives and libraries who provide grants. There are several well known large grant givers such as the Clore/Duffield, the Wolfson, etc. but most capital projects depend upon the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dependence on Grants can warp a museum's priorities and sap its energy as the focus of the senior staff is on chasing grants rather than developing the Museum's own income generation and strategy.

Grant giving bodies also have their own agendas which may not coincide with the Museum's.



Last updated 20 April 2010

Lecture by Kevin Flude - prepared for 'Creative Practice in Narrative Environments'

MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design & developed for University College Worcester

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