The Art Fund launches its Enriching Regions scheme

Curators from the East Midlands, East of England and West Midlands have attended launches of The Art Fund's new collecting initiative, Enriching Regions.

The regional launches took place at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The Collection in Lincoln and Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich.

‘Enriching Regions: The Art Fund Collecting Scheme’ will make up to £45,000 per region available to museums in the East of England, East Midlands and West Midlands thanks to a funding package of £130,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The scheme has been devised in direct response to research The Art Fund undertook earlier this year. The Collecting Challenge: The Art Fund Museum Survey 2006 found that many museums are no longer actively collecting, and that almost 70% now acquire new material mainly or solely by gift.

It found that the three poorest regions in collecting terms are the East Midlands, West Midlands and the East of England, and that local authority-owned and independent museums are the types of museum that are least able to collect. The Enriching Regions scheme is specifically designed to assist the museums with the greatest need.

Museums can apply for up to 100% of the cost of the work (minimum grant of £2,000), but priority will be given to those museums that can also find local funding – perhaps from a patron or local business. The Art Fund is keen to encourage museums to build and develop relationships with local donors and has arranged for Arts & Business – a not for profit organisation set up to assist businesses and arts organisations in creating partnerships – to give advice to any museum wishing to develop skills in this area.

Curators in the East Midlands, West Midlands and the East of England have commended the scheme.

Peter Brooks, a Trustee of Sheringham Museum said of Enriching Regions, “This will make an enormous difference to us – I don’t think people appreciate how much difference even a small amount of money can make to a small museum”

Sarah Skinner, Keeper of Art for Nottingham City Museums and Galleries said Enriching Regions ‘will be a vital means of developing Nottingham City Museums and Galleries’ contemporary collections, which we are struggling to build on without new funding. The scheme will be a great help to us and other museums in the region, which are desperately in need of funding for acquisitions.’

Jane May, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts for Leicester City Museums Service said, 'New additions to a museum's collections are like oxygen in a stream - they keep things fresh and full of life and energy. This new scheme, with its emphasis on local partnerships, is not just a desperately needed source of funding, it also encourages local people and businesses to become actively involved in building collections to meet changing needs and interests.'

Enriching Regions will run from 1 November 2006 – 1 November 2007 and will be open to accredited local authority-owned and independent museums and galleries in the East of England, West Midlands and East Midlands. Museums should contact Sarah Philp in The Art Fund’s Grants Office on 020 7225 4803 for further information.

Related Links:

Read more about The Collecting Challenge; The Art Fund Museum Survey 2006

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

The Collection, Lincoln

Photo: from left to right, The Art Fund's Deputy Director Andrew Macdonald; Philip Spedding, Senior Programme Manager at Arts & Business; and Sally Dummer, Collections Manager at Ipswich Museums and Galleries, pictured at the Enriching Regions launch at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

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