South West Museum Development, hosted by Bristol City Council, are pleased to announce that they have been awarded £1,276,800 in Museum Development grant funding by Arts Council England for 2024-2026.

This funding will be used to continue the regional museum development programme, which includes training and skills development, a programme of grant investment and a framework of local Museum Development Officers across the South West Area.

From 2024 the programme will be extended to include Hampshire Solent (Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight) reflecting the Arts Council England South West Area.

The funding has been provided to South West Museum Development and four other fellow museum development providers across England. Together the Museum Development England partnership will build upon the strengths of the national work, increasing connections between museums across the country to improve shared learning and increase benefits.

Chair of the South West Museum Development Board, Stephen Boyce, said, “The funding confirmed by Arts Council England for the 2024-2026 period is a significant vote of confidence in the work of South West Museum Development, its professional team, advisory board and support organisations. Part of a revised national network we particularly look forward to working with museums and stakeholders in the Hampshire Solent region as we align our area with that of Arts Council England South West. The new arrangements provide improved consistency and strategic impact for our work offering advice, expertise and funding to assist the work of museums large and small throughout the area.”

Bristol City Council, alongside the funding it receives for Bristol Museums from Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), has hosted the South West Museum Development programme since 2009. The programme is also championed by support organisations including Cornwall Museum Partnership, Dorset Archives, South West Heritage Trust and Wiltshire Council. A number of local authorities across the South West support South West Museum Development to deliver the programme. South West Museum Development looks forward to extending their collaboration with new support organisation Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Finance, Governance & Performance, Bristol City Council, said, “I extend my congratulations to South West Museum Development upon the news of their successful bid as part of Arts Council England’s Museum Development 2024-26 programme. Having sector development expertise in-house has been of significant benefit to Bristol Culture & Creative Industries and demonstrates Bristol City Council’s commitment to sector leadership that benefits the South West. We look forward to implementing the programme over the coming two years”.

From our Support Organisations

South West Heritage Trust is delighted that Arts Council England have confirmed continuing support for the region’s museums. Museums and heritage sites make a critical contribution to the local economy as well as supporting people and communities in a variety of imaginative and powerful ways. This funding will help to ensure that museums across Somerset continue to thrive in challenging times for the cultural sector.

Tom Mayberry, CEO, South West Heritage Trust

We are delighted with the news that Arts Council England have awarded Museum Development funding to SWMD 2024-26, enabling locally led MDO provision across the South West. The collaborative relationship between CMP and SWMD is one that will be built on to enable continued support for effective development opportunities to more museums and heritage organisations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, for the benefit of local and visiting audiences. Alongside Cornwall Council, this investment strengthens the Cornish museum ecosystem, supporting innovative ambitions and the superb day-to-day work of many organisations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Tamzyn Smith, CEO, Cornwall Museums Partnership

This is fantastic news for museum development in Dorset and BCP Council areas.  The investment received in past years from SWMD has provided crucial, targeted support for a service that interacts with 28 Accredited museums. We look forward to continuing our work with the Bristol team in the forthcoming year.

Sam Johnston, Service Manager, Dorset History Centre

We’re looking forward to starting our new working relationship with the South West Museum Development Programme and to being able to continue to provide invaluable support to the museums in our area.

Hampshire Cultural Trust