The ethics of sponsorship

an Extinction Rebellion flag flies in front a museum
09 Feb 2022

Choosing a multinational oil and gas corporation as the major sponsor of a climate change exhibition sounds like something straight out of 'The Thick of It'. But, says Justin Williams, Shell's corporate sponsorship of the Science Museum is no fiction.

Being an international in the creative sector

Photo of Concorde
12 Feb 2018

Julie Bécaud, now a researcher at the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains her first steps into the arts in the UK.

Disabled artists set to ‘disrupt’ museums nationwide

01 Jul 2022

The UK’s largest-ever exhibition of work by disabled artists will take place across the country on Saturday (2 July).

A total of 31 D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists are planning to stage surreal and nonsensical interventions in 30 museums and galleries nationwide, to mark the 102nd anniversary of the first Dada International Fair in Berlin.

Organised by disabled-led visual arts charity DASH, the project entitled We are Invisible We are Visible asked artists to imagine what would happen if the Dada movement – which rejected logic and authority in favour of disruptive nonsense – had been formed during the Covid-enforced lockdowns.

Participating venues are all part of the Plus Tate network, with the project receiving £125,000 from the Ampersand Prize.

DASH Artistic Director Mike Layward says there is a strong parallel between disability art and the Dada movement: “Both movements are born out of political situations of inequality and oppression. At this time, Disabled people are at the forefront of the impacts of so-called austerity. Poverty and exclusion are rife. As [German Dadaist artist] George Grosz said, ‘Can we tolerate this state of affairs without taking a stand against it?”
 

Over 140 Ukrainian cultural sites damaged, says UNESCO

20 Jun 2022

UNESCO has reported that 143 culturally significant buildings have been damaged in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February. 

The total includes 65 religious sites, 12 museums, 27 historic buildings, 17 buildings for cultural activities, 15 monuments and seven libraries. Damage has occurred across nine regions in Ukraine, mostly in the east of the country.

The global heritage body’s findings form part of its preliminary damage assessment into cultural properties in Ukraine, which it is conducted by cross-checking reported incidents with satellite images.

None of the seven World Heritage Sites in Ukraine appear to have been damaged to date.

Chesterfield theatre closes for £17.5m renovation

20 Jun 2022

Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre is closing at the end of the month as part of a £17.5m restoration project.

The plans will see work completed on the Stephenson Memorial Hall, home to both the theatre and Chesterfield Museum, which has already closed.

Chesterfield Borough Council says the theatre will be extended and the museum reconfigured, with a new gallery space and café bar. New educational and community facilities will also be created.

The project is part funded by the council, with £11m coming from the government’s levelling-up fund.

The Council’s service director for leisure, culture and community wellbeing Ian Waller says the plans will make the Stephen Memorial Hall “even more memorable and enjoyable, creating a modern visitor experience in the heart of our town”.

A note of optimism for museums

15 Jun 2022

New research from the sector draws some optimistic conclusions about the prospects for museums, as Sarah Philp explains.

'Lack of awareness' of museums tax relief hampers uptake

Westminster Abbey in London. Illuminated as part of the Lumiere London Light Show 2018
14 Jun 2022

Museums and galleries are missing out on money due to complexity and lack of awareness of government tax relief scheme.

Ipswich Museum set for £8.7m refurb despite petition

14 Jun 2022

A £8.7m project to renovate Ipswich Museum is to go ahead despite an online petition against the proposals.

The planned works to the Grade II-listed building include “slight” modifications to the front entrance, modernised lighting, new toilet facilities and a coffee shop.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £4.3m to fund the project, backed by a £3.6m investment from museum operators Ipswich Borough Council.

An online petition, which argues an “irreplaceable example of cultural heritage will be lost” if plans go ahead, had received over 2,300 signatures by Tuesday (14 June).

“This is a beautiful museum of great historic significance and updates could be made in a much more sensitive, nuanced way,” one signatory wrote.

An Ipswich Council spokesperson said the refurbishment will create a “a more appealing and exciting museum experience to which people, particularly local Ipswich visitors, will want to keep returning to.”

The plans follow a “number of phases of consultation” including an online survey that engaged more than 1,000 local participants, they added.

The spokesperson concluded there is a “process for dealing with petitions,” and confirming “we have not received a petition about the museum and will follow this process if we do”.

The museum is due to close this autumn and expects to welcome visitors back in spring 2025.

Government fund to rescue cultural buildings reopens

13 Jun 2022

The second round of the government’s Community Ownership Fund opened on Saturday (11 June).

The £150m fund is designed to help community groups bid for ownership of cultural buildings, namely historic buildings, sports clubs and music venues, to protect their long-term future.

The first round supported 39 projects to purchase assets that were at risk of closure, sale, neglect, damage, or were found to not be operating in a sustainable way.

Eligibility criteria has been widened to attract more applications. A requirement that the cultural asset must have had a community use in the last five years has been removed, and the minimum leasehold on the premises has been reduced from 25 years to 15 years.

Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution Neil O’Brien MP said the fund will help to “spread opportunity, boost local pride and level up every corner of the UK”.

Groups interested in applying are being invited to submit an expression of interest on the government website.

V&A and RIBA end architecture partnership

08 Jun 2022

The V&A and Royal Institute of British Architects have announced the end of a two-decade long partnership.

Their joint initiative, designed to promote the understanding of architecture, was established in 1999 and saw the opening of the UK’s first permanent architecture gallery at the V&A in 2004.

In a joint statement, the two organisations said strategic priorities of both institutions have shifted, but the partnership will run for a further five years, concluding in 2027.

RIBA is now focused on the creation of a cultural hub at 66 Portland Place, expected to become the House of Architecture, while the V&A is working with architecture and design curators to develop architectural collections across the museum’s three sites.

UK’s Cultural Protection Fund yet to support Ukraine

06 Jun 2022

The UK’s Cultural Protection Fund is yet to designate funding to Ukraine to support widespread damage to heritage sites caused by Russia’s invasion

The fund, administered by the British Council and backed by the Foreign Office, has delivered £30m since its inception in 2016 to protect cultural heritage at risk, namely across the Middle East and North and East Africa.

A British Council spokesperson told The Art Newspaper Ukraine was not automatically eligible for the fund, but an exception was made to allow allocation of £60,000 in March, which did not materialise.

In the last financial year, the £2.4m earmarked for grants had been largely spent before Russia’s invasion began in late February. This year’s fund is now open for expressions of interest, but the Ukraine is not listed as one of the fund’s targeted countries on the British Council’s website.

The Cultural Protection Fund did channel £80,000 through a Dutch non-governmental organisation in March, which is coordinating assistance for Ukraine.

The Prince Claus Fund shipped protection materials for works of art and buildings to Ukraine via Poland in March. A second consignment is now being organised.

The support package also received funding from foundations in the USA and Germany.

Arts Council chief among Queen's Birthday Honours recipients

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England
06 Jun 2022

More than 100 people working in the arts and culture sectors have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Wallace Collection named Europe’s best free gallery 

30 May 2022

The Wallace Collection in London is Europe’s best free gallery, according to a study by the Knowledge Academy.

Researchers used data from TripAdvisor, comparing scores from the website’s star rating system for galleries with more than 500 reviews. 

A Bayesian average was calculated to give each gallery a score out of 100, based on a weighted average obtained from the number of reviews relating to each star rating.

The Wallace Collection scored of 94.5/100 - 0.1 more than second place, Panayia Evanyelistria Cathedral and Museums in Tinos, Greece - with Dublin’s Chester Beatty in third place.

Eight of the top ten galleries were in the UK, including three other venues in London. The National Gallery was placed fifth, V&A seventh and the British Museum ninth.

Natural History Museum plans new £180m research centre

23 May 2022

The Natural History Museum will move a third of its collection to a new research and storage centre in Berkshire as part of efforts to make its assets digitally available to academics around the world.

The planned £180m centre at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield, Berkshire, is a collaboration with the University of Reading and is being funded by DCMS.

The centre will house a third of the Natural History Museum's assets, including its mammal collections and non-insect invertebrates - such as corals, crustaceans, molluscs and worms - totalling more than 27 million specimens.

It is hoped the collections will help studies of climate change, food security and biodiversity conservation.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading Professor Robert Van de Noort said it was an "exciting development" for the university.

"It could provide significant opportunities for our academics and students, as well as bringing benefits to the broader local area," he said.

"This new relationship with the Natural History Museum should further enhance the international research success of both organisations," he added.

The centre is expected to be completed in 2026, subject to planning permission.

Imperial War Museums commissions 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund

19 May 2022

Imperial War Museums (IWM) has released details of its IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund.

The £2.5m programme will see 22 artists create commissions, each inspired by the heritage of conflict, with internationally renowned artists Michael Rakowitz and Heather Phillipson among the first to be confirmed.

Five cultural organisations have each been appointed as major co-commissioning partners. 

Glasgow's the Hunterian, Swansea's Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Ulster University in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and Leicester Museums each receive £250,000 to commission an artist for the programme.

15 member organisations from IWM’s War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network will receive smaller grants of £20,000, to each commission a piece.

Commissions will go on public display across the UK between 2022 and 2024.

IWM says the reinvestment in the arts sector builds on over 100 years of art commissioning by IWM, which since the First World War has worked with artists to record the experiences of conflict for its collections. 

“After a challenging couple of years for the arts sector, we hope that the unprecedented opportunities enabled by the IWM 14-18 NOW Legacy Fund will kick-start cultural dialogue as we recover from the wide-reaching impacts of Covid-19,” said Director-General Diane Lees.

Welsh Government announces £750,000 for libraries and museums

18 May 2022

More than £750,000 of funding will be provided to help local libraries and museums develop their facilities and services, the Welsh Government has announced.

The funding, which will be delivered as part of the Transformation Capital Grant Scheme, will support Wales’ local libraries and museums to "develop and revitalise" their facilities.

There will be a particular focus on widening access, partnership working, decarbonisation, and developing sustainable services.

The fund will be used to refurbish and modernise six libraries: Penygroes Library, Dyffryn Ogwen Library in Gwynedd, Rhymney Library in Caerphilly, Pencoed Library in Bridgend, Port Talbot Library and Barry Library.

Funding will also be provided towards and Newport Museum and Art Gallery’s decarbonisation project, and to enable Monmouthshire County Council to ensure the preservation of, and future access to, their collections through work at the Shire Hall.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden said: “The Welsh Government remains committed to supporting these important services that fulfil a valuable role at the heart of community life. 

"This fund will widen access for our communities, promote cultural engagement, provide learning opportunities and support community cohesion, sustainability and prosperity.

“I encourage everyone to see what their local museum, archive or library has to offer.”

Plymouth museum receives European accolade

12 May 2022

Plymouth museum The Box was one of 12 museums to be recognised in this year’s European Museum of the Year Awards (EMYA).

The awards, which were held in Tartu, Estonia, are Europe’s longest running celebration of museums across the continent.

A total of 60 museums were nominated, with The Box one of 12 awarded entries, receiving a special commendation alongside six other museums.

The award’s overarching theme this year was how museums can address local and global issues that impact their communities. 

The EMYA Jury described The Box as “a remarkable regional museum with strong ambitions for its cultural, educational and social effects”.

“With outstanding exhibitions and easy access for all, it has created a new cultural asset for its city and region and is an active advocate for the social change it can bring to its communities.”

The Netherlands’ Museum of the Mind won European Museum of the Year, after being unanimously voted for by the EMYA jury.

Museums Association creates front of house charter

12 May 2022

The Museums Association (MA) has launched a charter to improve working conditions for front of house museum staff.

Created in conjunction with campaign group Front of House Museums, the charter breaks down guidance into wellbeing, contract and conditions, recognition, inclusion and professional development.

It will be followed by a summary research report, due to be published over the coming months.

Workforce Development Officer Tamsin Russell says the charter “acknowledges the critical role front of house staff serve in delivering a positive museum experience”.

The MA hopes users will reflect upon the existing systems, behaviours, cultures, and practices that see front of house staff treated differently.

DCMS opens £4m museums and galleries fund

10 May 2022

Applications are now open for the latest round of DCMS/Wolfson Fund for galleries and museums in England.

With £4m available in total, museums, galleries and museum services can submit bids of up to £300,000 for projects improving display and interpretation, visitor experience, access and environmental controls and conservation.

Institutions must be, or have previously been, members of an Arts Council England development scheme or sponsored by DCMS to be eligible.

DCMS and the Wolfson Fund have worked together for 20 years, delivering £48m across 400 projects at museums and galleries since the fund’s inception.

Full application details are available via the DCMS website. Applications will close 1 August, with the fund set to be shared out across two years.

Art Fund helps regional curators visit London Gallery Weekend

10 May 2022

Eighteen galleries across the UK have received support from the Art Fund to help curators visit London Gallery Weekend 2022.

The grants will go towards travel and accommodation costs for the event, which takes place this weekend (13-15 May).

The charity said it hopes the scheme will help create new and stronger connections between museums across the UK, London galleries and the artists they support.

Director Jenny Waldman said: “It felt like it was a really good moment to bring people back together.”

“The damage that has been done by the pandemic means that people have not been travelling to see work, travelling to meet each other.”

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