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Aiming for a Responsive Grants Programme

Aiming for a Responsive Grants Programme

We're making changes to our funding programme to continue to adapt to the changing needs of the museum sector. Read more about the introduction of the Subject Specialist Network Bursary.

The need to preserve and share curatorial knowledge has never been more urgent. Subject specialist networks (SSNs) have a key role to play in this. MGS has been working to support the Scottish and UK wide groups that exist to share knowledge about collections ranging from musical instruments to transport. One clear need that has emerged has been for financial support for the museum workforce to get to network meetings. This month, MGS responded to this need with the creation of the Subject Specialist Network Travel Bursary. This fund will support the costs of curators and others travelling to SSN events anywhere within the UK. It also covers the costs of bringing specialist speakers to SSN events taking place in Scotland. The fund is now open for applications and details are available on our website.

The creation of the SSN Travel Bursary is an example of the way our grants programme is evolving in response to the sector needs that are emerging. Another is the removal of the set match funding requirement on our Small Project Fund. Earlier this year we announced that there would no longer be a requirement for applicants to this fund to secure at least 25% funding from other sources. Whilst we are still keen to see museums contributing financially to small projects where they can (primarily so that our funds can reach as far as possible), we recognise that currently, a requirement of 25% match funding can mean that some important projects simply could not proceed.

String instruments in a glass case, part of the musical instrument collection at St Cecilia's Hall String instruments in a glass case, part of the musical instrument collection at St Cecilia's Hall

An evolving grants programme

We've also recently widened out the eligibility criteria for our Purchase Fund. All non-nationally styled independent and regimental museums are now able to access up to £600 to make small equipment purchases that will support museum work. In the past this fund has supported a wide range of equipment from IT to accession registers and conservation materials to baby change stations.

Grant application patterns have changed over the last few years and we are working hard to understand what is behind these changes and where we need to respond. We're aware that diminishing capacity has a big impact on museums to develop and run projects that are eligible for grant funding, and even on their ability to sit down and write applications. We've sought to simplify our application forms recently and are in the process of reviewing our claims processes. Grantees will no longer be required to submit proof of payment for individual costs less than £100 with their claims (although for audit purposes we will be required to do random checks so it will be necessary to keep this documentation).

We welcome your feedback on our grants programme and, although we cannot promise to implement every change you may wish to request, the more we understand any barriers or issues you may be encountering in accessing MGS grants, the more we can ensure that our grants programme responds to sector need. You can get in touch with us at

Published 10 December 2019