Funding sources

Sources of funding and support for the North West – COVID-19
Details correct 7th September 2020

This document updates our usual sources of grant funding for museums, with details of responses from the funders to the COVID-19 situation, and indicates where standard funding streams are still running as usual and open for applications, or new funding streams have been introduced to respond to COVID-19.

Please refer to websites for up to date information on deadlines, timetabling and grant conditions. Some of the funders are signatories to a joint funder statement coordinated by London Funders to reassure grant holders so the full statement has not been reproduced each time here. Read the full statement here, but also check individual websites for additional information relating to the specific fund and COVID-19 responses.

Changes to normal funding offer due to COVID-19 is indicated in dark blue.


Anna Plowden Trust
Grants to support the development of skills in conservation

  • Anna Plowden/Clothworkers’ Foundation Continuing Professional Development Grants – contribute to the cost of short courses and conferences
  • Conservation Training Scholarships – contribute to the cost of attending full-time conservation training courses

For existing CPD grant recipients – if you received a CPD grant for an event that is postponed, Anna Plowden Trust will honour that grant for the rescheduled course or conference. The grants are not, however, transferable to another CPD opportunity.

NOTE that if the conference you were to attend is now being held virtually you can still use your grant to cover the registration etc costs. However, please keep Anna Plawden Trust updated and send them details of the costs and whether you will need to use only part of the grant you were awarded.

For potential CPD grant applicants – despite the uncertainty of many CPD courses and conferences due to be held later this year or next year going ahead, Anna Plowden Trust will continue to accept CPD applications in the normal way. For successful applications, it will honour the grant if the course or conference is rescheduled, but the grants are not transferable to another CPD opportunity. 

Architectural Heritage Fund
To promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK

  • Transforming Places Through Heritage supports projects that will contribute to the transformation of high streets and town centres in England helping them become thriving place, strengthening local communities and encouraging local economies to prosper (part of the Future High Streets Fund, alongside Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones). For individual heritage buildings in, or transferring to, community ownership. Supports charities and social enterprises to develop projects with the potential to bring new life to high streets by creating alternative uses for redundant or underused historic buildings in town centres:
    • Project Viability Grants – up to £15,000 for early viability and feasibility work, open now for applications
    • Project Development Grants – up to £100,000 for capital project development costs, open now for applications
    • Crowdfunding Challenge Grants – up to £25,000 to match fund crowdfunding campaigns, open now for applications
    • Transformational Project Grants: up to £350,000, for transformational capital projects, open now for applications. Deadline for applications: 30th September 2020, for a decision in December 2020.

    • Community Shares Booster Grants: further info to be announced.

AHF aims to continue assessing and awarding grants as advertised. If you have a query regarding an application, please contact them on 020 7925 0199 or email If you are a grant or loan recipient and have a query, please contact your AHF Officer.

Art Fund
Providing museums and curators with funding for acquisitions, training and development, and the display of art through tours and exhibitions

  • Respond and Reimagine Grants –  grants of £10,000 – £50,000 to help museums, galleries and cultural organisations respond to immediate challenges connected to the Covid-19 crisis, and offer support to adapt and reimagine ways of working for the future.
  • Acquisitions Programme – purchase of works of art and other objects of aesthetic interest, dating from antiquity to the present day
    • Main Grants – grants of £7,500 and above and/or where the total cost of the work is more than £15,000
    • Small Grants – grants of £7,500 or less where the total cost of the work is £15,000 or less
    • Auctions – time critical applications of any size for works coming up for sale at auction
  • Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants Programme – funding for travel and other practical costs to help curators, scholars and researchers undertake collection and exhibition research projects, including temporary administrative cover
  • Art Happens – crowdfunding platform for UK museums and gallery projects. Free of charge to any Accredited museum or gallery
  • Network Grants – grants of up to £5,000 and over £5,000 provide funding to support Subject Specialist Networks (SSNs) and other curatorial networks in sharing expertise across the museum sector, for the benefit of collections and audiences
  • Small Project Grants – grants of up to £10,000 to help museums and galleries act on good ideas and/or test new ways of working that will benefit their audiences. Projects should align with one or more of the four strands of Art Fund’s programme building collections, shaping futures, reaching audiences, and making connections

All grant programmes are still open. If you have any applications in train, ideas you’d like to explore, or anything you’d like to discuss with the team, please get in touch. Programmes are being adapted and Art Fund are being flexible around timing and eligibility to help museums access funding more easily and meet the pressing needs of the sector. Art Fund are open to funding all types of activity, even those that would ordinarily be ineligible, and can make decisions very swiftly if required. 

Network Grants are still open, Art Fund are particularly keen for this funding to provide opportunities for professional networks to continue engaging with each other remotely. It is encouraging applications for activities which can be delivered digitally, such as virtual conferences and webinars, increased website resources, or collaborative online collections engagement projects.

Small Project Grants are still open, and Art Fund are particularly keen for this funding to support organisations in continuing to engage with the public during periods of closure. It encourages innovative and creative approaches and are happy to support experimental projects which can be delivered digitally.

For both funds it can turn applications around in a short timeframe and are happy to discuss projects which may fall outside the criteria specified in their guidance for applicants. Please get in touch if you are interested in applying.

Arts Council England

National Lottery Project GrantsNational Lottery Project Grants are open for applications. Until April 2021, the fund will focus on the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners. Supplementary guidance has been published that outlines the changes. The fund will also focus more on activity that gives organisations the time to think, plan and test new ideas. For the first time with this fund, ACE will be able to invest in activity where the route to public engagement may take longer, and may take place beyond the boundaries of the activity you apply for. The usual requirement to provide 10% match funding has been removed.

Association for Industrial Archaeology
Restoration Grants – grants of up to £20,000 for a range of historic and industrial archaeology purposes

  • Major projects – maximum grant £20,000. The grant from the AIA must be a significant part of the total project cost, not just a small contribution to a very large project, so that the AIA grant has real impact. The AIA would not normally fund projects where our grant represents less than 20% of the total project costs
  • Small projectswhich are allocated at least 20% of the available funds. The grant limit is £7,500, for which the total cost of the project, excluding the value of volunteer labour, must not exceed £10,000.

Association of Independent Museums (AIM)
Membership network for independent museums, galleries and heritage organisations across the UK. Administers grants for museums to help AIM members with a variety of needs including training, conservation, development and exhibitions

  • Training Grants – support member museums in developing the skills and expertise of their staff and trustees
  • Collections Care & Conservation Grants – funded by the Pilgrim Trust, next deadline 30th September 2020
    • Collections Care Audits – run in partnership with ICON to enable small museums to undertake a basic professional collections care audit
    • Remedial Conservation Grant Scheme – funds conservation of accessioned objects
    • Collections Care Scheme – supports projects to help museums develop a more sustainable approach to the conservation and management of collections through improvements to collections care
  • Source of information for COVID-19 resources including details of government support available for museums and HR advice –

Beecroft Bequest
Administered by trustees appointed by the Museums Association, provides funding for acquisition of pre-19thcentury works

Charles Hayward Foundation
Grants for protecting, restoring and interpreting past inventions, discoveries, industrial sites and defining moments that have shaped our history and identity, and displaying them in a modern context for public engagement, use and learning. Will fund adaptation of former industrial heritage sites to creative and educational spaces, development of museums and galleries, conservation and preservation of pictures, manuscripts, books and objects for public display, use and interest

  • Main Grant Programme – for UK-registered charities with an annual income of more than £350,000, grants awarded of £20,000 to £50,000

See London Funders statement. The Foundation is still accepting applications

Cheshire Community Foundation
Central point of information for sources of funding in Cheshire. Part of a national movement of Community Foundations that undertake strategic grant-making, facilitate philanthropy and contribute to achieving positive social change in local communities

Clore Duffield Foundation
Provides support for cultural learning, creating learning spaces within arts and heritage organisations

  • Main Grants Programme – open to registered charities and local authority run museums and galleries, mainly for capital projects
  • Main Grants Programme: Learning Spaces – funds museum, gallery and heritage learning spaces

Will understand if reports or new applications can’t be submitted on time; inform of any changes to Will do best to honour payments due to grantees and to continue to support museum through this difficult time, but have such a tiny team it is likely that the office is temporarily closed. Please bear with them if there is a delay in responding.  

Community Foundation for Lancashire
Central point of information for sources of funding in Lancashire. Part of a national movement of Community Foundations that undertake strategic grant-making, facilitate philanthropy and contribute to achieving positive social change in local communities

Lancashire COVID-19 Community Support Fund launched with grants of up to £5,000 available for organisations, including charities, for priorities including the delivery of services and projects supporting the most vulnerable, such as older people e.g. a telephone support/friendship service or delivering online activities to help reduce isolation. See London Funders statement

Community Foundation for Merseyside
Central point of information for sources of funding in Merseyside. Part of a national movement of Community Foundations that undertake strategic grant-making, facilitate philanthropy and contribute to achieving positive social change in local communities

LCR Cares COVID-19 Community Support Fund launched with grants of up to £5,000 available for organisations, including charities, for priorities including the delivery of services and projects supporting the most vulnerable, such as older people e.g. a telephone support/friendship service or delivering online activities to help reduce isolation. See London Funders statement

Country Houses Foundation
Grants for the repair and conservation of rural historic buildings and structures, including where appropriate their gardens, grounds and outbuildings. Usually listed or scheduled buildings. Usually make grants to projects which are ready to begin but will also consider seed funding to kick start a project.

Cumbria Community Foundation
Central point of information for sources of funding in Cumbria. Part of a national movement of Community Foundations that undertake strategic grant-making, facilitate philanthropy and contribute to achieving positive social change in local communities

See London Funders statement

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Will launch a revised strategy in September 2020. Between May and September it will be concentrating its time and funds on supporting the organisations it already funds, to help them through this uncertain time. See London Funders statement.

  • Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund (administered by the Museums Association) – supports a range of projects that bring collections closer to people. See for further details. Due to coronavirus some changes have been made for this year:
  • Collections Innovation and Engagement grants are usually awarded twice a year in spring and autumn. This year only one set of projects will be awarded from a total pot of £500,000. Shortlisted grants from the March 2020 round have been invited to the second stage of the autumn grant round and new expressions of interest will also be accepted with a deadline of 14th September 2020  
  • Collections strategy and development grants – Grants of up to £250,000 for projects running for five years or under will be awarded to initiatives that use collections work to support the established strategy of an organisation for longer term benefit.  This type of grant aims to accelerate the development of museums that are ready to find new ways and do more to involve their audience and communities with collections. It’s designed to help organisations overcome some of the barriers of traditional project funding, and the MA will offer additional coaching where its skills and network can add benefit. This fund was due to award its first projects in 2020, but the MA have postponed this round to 2021 and will fund more projects than initially planned for this year, to enable organisations to fully understand the impact of coronavirus on their business plans and long term strategies. Before submitting an expression of interest, you will need to speak to a member of the MA team to discuss your project. Please delay contacting them about this fund until September 2020 to enable them to prioritise working with Sustaining Engagement with Collections and Innovation and Engagement applicants. Suitable projects will then be invited to submit expressions of interest in Spring 2021 (8-12 projects in total). It is recommended that you speak to a member of the team before March 2021.

Foyle Foundation
Independent grant making trust for UK charities

Main Grants Scheme – currently suspended to new applicants. Major Capital Requests will remain suspended in respect of new applications until 2021 when further guidelines will be issued.

Small Grants Scheme – now open for applications with revised criteria, will fund one-year grants only to cover core costs or essential equipment, to enable ongoing service provision, homeworking, or delivery of online digital services to charities that can show financial stability.

All current grant recipients will continue to be supported by the Foundation.

All pending applications are being processed on a case by case basis.

See London Funders statement

Friends of National Libraries
To help libraries, record offices and museums acquire rare books, manuscripts or archives that organisations would not be able to purchase with their own resources

Funding Central
Provides access to thousands of grants, contracts and loan finance opportunities from local, national and international funding sources

Garfield Weston Foundation
Revenue, project and capital grants in the following categories

  • Museums and Heritage – support organisations that conserve and interpret our nation’s heritage for future generations, ensuring it is accessible and available to all
  • Arts – support organisations that delight and inspire audiences across the UK
    • Major Grants – £100,000 and above
    • Regular Grants – under £100,000

See London Funders statement

The Foundation remains open to new applications and are offering flexibility around timescales and reporting to current grantees. Are taking a phased approach to grants, including considering medium term core costs needs for resilience as well as planning for longer-term strategic projects.

Granada Foundation

Provides grants to encourage the study and appreciation of fine arts and sciences in the North West, looking for imaginative proposals from organisations which will in some way make the North West a richer and more attractive place in which to live and work.

Please note the Granada Foundation have recently taken a decision not to accept any applications for large scale capital projects for the time being. When this position changes an announcement will be made on their page.

UK’s leading grants and policy database

The Grocers’ Charity
Grants of up to £5,000 for UK charities for conservation of historic buildings, conservation of historic objects or paintings, arts projects engaging with marginalised audiences for the appreciation of arts, performances or exhibitions

See London Funders statement

Headley Trust
One of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Trustees are prepared to consider unsolicited proposals so long as they closely match one of the following areas of interest:

Arts & Heritage UK

  • Regional museums and galleries, with special consideration for curatorial support and acquisitions
  • The display, study and acquisition of British ceramics
  • Conservation of industrial, maritime and built heritage
  • Archaeology
  • Arts education/outreach and access to the arts for disabled and disadvantaged people
  • Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisition Fund


  • Vocational training in conservation and heritage skills

Health & Social Welfare

  • Projects to improve older people’s quality of life in residential care homes, including supporting people with dementia
  • Support for carers of older people (local & national)
  • Projects that support disadvantaged families and young people

See Sainsbury Family Charity Trusts below

Henry Moore Foundation
Henry Moore Grants support exhibitions, exhibition catalogues, commissions, conferences, research, fellowships, publications, residencies and the development of collections through acquisitions, conservation, cataloguing and display

  • New Projects and Commissions – grants up to £20,000 for exhibitions, exhibition catalogues and sculpture commissions
  • Acquisitions and Collections – grants up to £20,000 for museums and galleries to acquire and conserve sculpture for their collections
  • Research and Development
    • Long Term Research Grants available to organisations only, these grants support extended research projects requiring funding for more than one year, e.g. a permanent collection catalogue. Grants can be awarded up to £20,000
    • Research and Travel Grants – aimed at individual academics (post-MA), curators and scholars, grants support research into the history and interpretation of sculpture. Will support funding towards research costs, including travel, photography and archival access. The maximum grant is £2,500
  • Conferences, lectures and publications – This grant category provides support for books, journals and conferences on the subject of sculpture. The maximum grant available is £5,000.

The Foundation will endeavour to maintain its support for projects irrespective of such changes caused by coronavirus. The next deadline date for new applications will be on 9th September, for projects starting after 9th December. Until further notice, the Foundation will reduce the period between the application deadline date and project start date from six months to three months.

Historic England

  • Repair Grants for Heritage at Risk – grants towards the repair and conservation of listed buildings, scheduled monuments and registered parks and gardens, intended to reduce the risk faced by sites on the Heritage at Risk Register
  • Heritage Protection Commissions – funding for strategic research and to build skills and capacity in the historic environment. Funds through both Open Proposals Programme and Calls for Proposals
  • Regional Capacity Building Programme – for activities and projects which are regional in coverage and which promote the understanding, management and conservation of the historic environment

Still open for business and will continue to support you whether you’re a grant recipient or currently liaising with Historic England teams about developing your project or grant application. Will be contacting all recipients of grant funding to provide reassurance, this will include flexibility regarding timetables for delivery on projects where required. If you have immediate concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on your grant funded project, please get in touch with your individual project contacts. See individual schemes for further details.

2020-21 grants – HE anticipates that grant funded projects are likely to experience delays. Please be reassured that grants will continue to be paid at the agreed milestones. They may be able to amend these milestones to assist cash flow issues, and can extend grant contracts for projects that are affected in order to allow them to be completed as planned. To discuss any of these issues or amendments to your project and grant contract please contact your HE grant contact after the end of the financial year.

All travel bursaries and grants are on hold until further notice due to the travel restrictions in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will reopen the schemes as soon as possible.

Idlewild Trust
Supports registered charities in projects that support the arts and conservation:

  • Art – improve opportunities for young professionals working creatively in the arts, particularly at an early stage in their careers
  • Conservation – projects that aim to conserve historic or artistically important objects and works of art including artefacts, textiles, furtniture, metalwork, manuscripts, wall paintings, tombs and stained glass of high quality

See London Funders statement

The next open round for arts and conservation grants will be in 2021.

Institute of Fundraising
Professional membership body for UK fundraising. Website contains resources and guidance for heritage organisations and charities, including COVID-19 specific information.

National network of community-led organisations; work aims to inspire local communities to change and improve by helping people to set up locally owned and led organisations, support organisations to exchange ideas and best practice on community asset ownership, community enterprise and social action, run major national programmes to support and empower local communities

Now includes lists of funding available for charities during the COVID-19 pandemic, information and advice, and support for Locality members.

Merseyside Funding Information Portal
Database of Merseyside-specific funding

Museums Association

  • Museums Association Benevolent Fund (merged with the Trevor Walden Trust in 2015) provides funding for
    • the relief of poverty
    • alleviating financial distress suffered by past or present members of the Museums Association and their immediate dependents
    • the advancement of education and training of students participating in programmes and training events organised by the Museums Association, including working towards the AMA
    • The Museums Association recognise the severe impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the financial situation of those working in and with museums. In light of these difficult circumstances, the MA Benevolent Fund is providing a number of new funding opportunities to support individuals in the sector at this time – COVID Hardship Stream /  Inclusive Membership / Additional support for professional development
  • See also Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund
  • See also Beecroft Bequest

National Heritage Memorial Fund
The National Heritage Memorial Fund has been awarding grants to safeguard the UK’s most important heritage since 1980.

They are currently developing a response to support nationally-important heritage at risk due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As a result, they are only accepting applications for urgent cases that meet this criteria.

If you have an urgent application, please contact them.

National Manuscripts Conservation Trust
Helps preserve important manuscript and archive collections by awarding grants for their conservation. Applications accepted from non-national archives and record offices, as well as specialist libraries, universities and museums

Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Has paused applications to all its funds to focus on supporting the organisations it currently funds. Expects to open to new applications again from the autumn, running a mix of recovery grants and programme grants.

See London Funders statement

Pilgrim Trust
Favours giving to organisations where relatively modest grants will make a significant impact. Committed to preserving the UK’s unique heritage for the benefit of future generations. Part of that heritage lies in physical objects such as buildings, artifacts and recorded information such as manuscripts or books. The main emphasis is on projects that conserve historical buildings, monuments and collections; also encourages projects that promote awareness either by making collections more available or by supporting academic research and ones that improve access.

  • Preservation and Scholarship – projects that conserve historical buildings, monuments and collections; also encourage projects that promote awareness either by making collections more available or by supporting academic research and ones that improve access
  • See also AIM Collections Care & Conservation Grants
  • See also National Manuscripts Conservation Trust

See London Funders statement

The Trust would like to be able to maintain grant payments at originally-agreed levels, so please talk to the Trust if you think you may experience difficulties achieving some of the outcomes originally agreed for the grant. The Trust will be flexible about deadlines, and will be reasonable if you need to move money between budget headings to ensure your work can continue. The Trust are available if you want to talk to them about the situation you’re facing, email whoever normally deals with your grant.

Sainsbury Family Charity Trusts
The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts is the operating office of 18 grant- making trusts established by members of the Sainsbury family. Each trust works autonomously as an independent legal entity with a separate board
of trustees. Many of the trusts work closely with their chosen beneficiaries over a long period to achieve particular objectives and the majority of unsolicited proposals received by the Trusts are likely to be unsuccessful. See the website for further details and a list of all the trusts

See London Funders statement

Will continue to support organisations they fund through this uncertain time, their funding is flexible and intended to help you deal with challenges.

SFCT understand that it might be difficult for you to meet the outcomes of your grant when staff and volunteers will not be available, events or meetings may need to be cancelled, and services need to be provided in different ways. SFCT are interested to hear about this as part of your regular reporting, but you don’t have to take the time to tell them about it now unless a chat would be helpful.

Please let them know by phone or email if they could help by moving payment or reporting dates, flexing timeframes for delivery of outcomes, adapting activities, or anything else.

V&A Purchase Grant Fund
Material of any date relating to arts and culture is eligible for support: archaeological and ethnographical material; objects illustrating social and popular culture, decorative and fine art; rare books; documents and letters with good historical content, estate maps, writers’ manuscripts and archival photographs. Objects to be bought at auction are also eligible.

Wolfson Foundation
Aims to improve the civic health of society mainly through education and research, specifically supporting excellence in the fields of education, science and medicine, health and disability, and arts and humanities.

Open grant programmes are currently paused for new applicants.

Continuing to administer grant processes and procedures as normal. Please talk to the Foundation if you are concerned that your project may need to change, or cannot go ahead as planned. The Foundation are happy for reporting to be postponed while more urgent priorities are addressed.

Grant payments can be claimed in the normal manner. Please be assured that the Foundation manages its investments and reserves carefully for the long term, and is able to honour all grant commitments.

 See London Funders statement


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  1. Pingback: Funding Fair – Final Reminder! | Museum Development North West

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