Modernising of regional museum sector in England

24 January 2002, United Kingdom

A number of new UK regional museum 'hubs', acting as flagships for the local museums community, will be chosen over the next few months as part of a £10 million funding boost, announced Arts Minister, Baroness Blackstone. In the annual lecture to the Association of Independent Museums, she gave details of the British government’s strategy to modernise and support England’s 2,500 regional museums. The government’s proposals are in response to an implementation plan delivered by an organisation called 'Resource' in response to 'Renaissance in the Regions', the report of the Regional Museums Task Force. Within the next few days, museums will be invited to comment on the selection criteria for the hubs by Resource, and further guidance about the selection and application process, along with criteria, will be published in Feburary. Initial bids will be required by April, and an invited panel of experts will be asked to consider these. At the end of this process, in June, the hubs will be announced in principle. The minister said the second phase of implementation would cover the realisation of the hubs. Following the outcome of the spending review, financial offers and funding agreements would be negotiated she affirmed. The hubs would then need to submit strategic plans, to show how they would use the money for the benefit of local museums, and proposals on how governance would be modernised. The Minister also announced that the Government was making a further £10 million available to allow the 'Designation Challenge Fund' to continue for a further two years. Bids will shortly be invited for the first allocation of £5 million. The fund's focus, however, will shift from collections care to projects which produce other tangible benefits, including education and learning-based projects. There will also be a greater emphasis on projects which build capacity in the sector. The fund will need to take account of the creation of regional hubs, and so Resource will therefore hold back the second allocation of £5 million until their identity is known later in the year.