Please read our updates and practical guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) for South West museums.

Latest information for museums during COVID-19

Last updated 17:00 Wednesday 8th July 2020

We have summarised and signposted the most relevant sources of information for museums in the South West below.

  • Please sign up for our monthly newsletter for the latest news, opportunities and regular themes (digital, audiences, collections and volunteering) from the team. Past issues can be read here.
  • If you would like any support, on anything mentioned below or other guidance during this time, please get in touch with the team via our contact form.

Index for this page:

  1. Recovery and Emergency Grants Funding
  2. National Re-opening Guidance
  3. Training
  4. Accreditation
  5. Collections security
  6. Reopening guidance
  7. Support and training for museums – helpful links


1. Recovery and Emergency Grants Funding

Our new Recovery Grants with funding from Art Fund

We, along with our fellow Museum Development Providers, are working in collaboration with Art Fund to distribute new Recovery Grants.

  • Grants up to £10,000
  • Available to museums and heritage organisations in the South West
  • For organisations ineligible for, or unable to successfully access the other emergency packages and financial measures available to the sector
  • Applications opened Wednesday 1st July

For full information, see our Recovery Grants pages.

Updates to HM Government’s financial support

On Sunday 5th July  the government announced a £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus.

This package will be delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants. This will include:

  • £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
  • £120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the press release here and we will update this page when more announcements are made.

Latest updates to the Government Furlough Scheme

From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.

This means that the final date by which an employer needs to agree with their employee and ensure they place them on furlough is 10 June (now passed). Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June. Find out more information on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

Source: GOV.UK

From August 2020 employers will be required to start contributing under the scheme:

  • from August they must pay employer’s national insurance and pension contributions
  • from September must also have to pay 10% of wage costs
  • from October must pay 20% of wage costs

Read this fact sheet from the UK Treasury for guidance.

Please see also this Bates Wells Solicitors article summarising the new scheme.

Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

To make a claim, you will need:

  • to be registered for PAYE online
  • your UK bank account number and sort code
  • your employer PAYE scheme reference number
  • the number of employees being furloughed
  • each employee’s National Insurance number
  • each employee’s payroll or employee number (optional)
  • the start date and end date of the claim
  • the full amount you’re claiming for including employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum pension contributions
  • your phone number
  • contact name

You also need to provide either:

  • your name (or the employer’s name if you’re an agent)
  • your Corporation Tax unique taxpayer reference
  • your Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference
  • your company registration number

Full information available on the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme website pages.

National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Emergency Fund

  • Between £3,000 – £50,000 is available
  • Applications are now open (since 15th April)
  • They have provided an offline pdf version of the application and questions
  • The application deadline has now been extended until Friday 31st July. Find further details on the extension here. 
  • You must apply online and the application cannot be saved and returned to so it is recommended that you draft the application offline first.
  • Short-term funding (over the next 6 months) to:
    • Stabilise operations and manage unforeseen risks.
    • A select number of key strategic investments where heritage is identified as at greatest risk
  • Three requirements:
    1. organisations that have received funding in the past or are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant
    2. organisations with limited or no access to other emergency initiatives from other funding bodies and Lottery Distributors
    3. organisations where there is limited scope to repurpose existing funding for a project

“If your organisation is an Accredited museum and you are applying to both Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund to support Covid-19 response work, you should only accept funding from one funder. You must indicate in your application to each funder if you have also applied to the other.”(Arts Council England, 31.03.20)

National Lottery Project Grants

The National Lottery Project Grants will be returning on 22nd July.

The funds will be responding to the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners during Covid-19.

Further information is available online and updated guidance will be published mid-July.

Arts Council England’s Emergency Funding Package for non-NPO organisations is now closed.

Applications for the Esmée Fairbairn ‘Sustaining Engagement with Collections’ grants are now closed.

2. National Re-opening Guidance

As the lockdown eases, guidance is being developed to help organisations plan for re-opening. Universal Government Guidance is available, Government guidance is available via Arts Council, in consultation with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Re-opening Guidelines and Checklist

To support the sector, we, as part of the Museum Development Network, worked with the Association of Independent Museums to produce A Checklist for Re-opening Your Museum. Designed to accompany the Coronavirus Covid-19 NMDC Good Practice Guidelines on Re-opening Museums the Checklist aims to help museums to take an informed approach to re-opening.

The Checklist covers nine Principles to inform decision making within your museum. See our news post for further information on the Checklist. 

Visit Britain Kite Mark

Visit Britain created a ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard Kite Mark. This Kite Mark aims to reassure visitors and customers that Government and public health guidance is being followed.

Government Guidance for Heritage Locations

The Government recently released Guidance for Heritage Locations – this is for those operating, working and volunteering in heritage attractions (including open air site/museums and historic houses). This guidance was developed with input from Historic England, National Trust and other organisations.

Remember to it is up to your organisation to decide when it is safe and necessary for your site to re-open. If you require support or advice on re-opening, please contact your local Museum Development Officer, or get in touch.

3. Training

South West Museum Skills 2020/21 – Our popular training programme is back, please subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our latest sessions.

Please see our training pages for the latest sessions open for booking.

Our training is now online, aiming to be responsive and supportive during these challenging times. Our sessions are designed to help your museum and its workforce respond to the current situation and plan for the futureWe may repeat some sessions, recognising a phased approach across the sector to returning to work/volunteer roles and re-opening.

Addressing your training priorities 

This time last year we asked you about your, and your museum’s training needs’, for you and your museum were. A lot has happened recently and we recognise that your development priorities may have now changed, so we are asking for your feedback to inform our SW Museum Skills Programme later this year. Let us know what your immediate and forthcoming training priorities by sharing your feedback here.

I am furloughed – can I access training?

Government rules state that you can complete training stipulated by your employer as long as it is not providing services or generating income for your museum.

  • Check with your employer first before starting training if you are furloughed.
  • You must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage if you undertake training (this differs for apprentices).
  • The Furlough Scheme has just been extended until October, so be mindful of this when it comes to training over this period.

4. Accreditation Updates

  • All Accredited Museums will have their current award status extended for an additional 12 months.
  • All Accreditation Panel meetings, including the meeting that was scheduled for 28 April 2020, have been postponed. For those who have submitted Returns that have not yet gone to panel you will be contacted shortly.
  • An FAQs document regarding Accreditation during COVID-19 will has been published by Arts Council

Contact us on [email protected] if you have any questions.

5. Collections security

Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) Update: Arts Council have released updated GIS guidance on ‘Closed Venues and Sites: advice on meeting security and environmental conditions’. Working in collaboration with the National Security Advisor. This updated guidance is applicable to all museums. Available in a downloadable pdf 

We are working closely with Collections Trust and our Collections Development Officer, Helena Jaeschke, joined them for their second panel discussion and Q&A on 12th May with the theme ‘Collections Care in Lockdown – 5 weeks on’. Watch the video here.

Previously, she was in the Collections Trust broadcasted panel conversation around collection security on 7th April. This is available to watch here

You can find ‘Collections in Lockdown’ resources on Collections Trust’s website

Helena has also produced a helpful resource which is a guide to the Main Collections Risks during closure.

6. Museum reopening guidance

As part of the wider Museum Development Network, we have worked with the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) to produce A Checklist for Reopening Your Museum and a Checklist infographic.

The Checklist covers nine Principles to inform decision making within your museum and take an informed approach to reopening.

These were designed to accompany the Coronavirus Covid-19 National Museum Director’s Council Good Practice Guidelines on Reopening Museums.

  The Government recently released Guidance for Heritage Locations – this is for those operating, working and volunteering in heritage attractions.
  Visit Britain created a ‘We’re Good to Go’ Industry Standard Kite Mark to reassure visitors and customers that public health guidance is being followed.
  The Museum Association has published Organisational and Employment FAQs in relation to coronavirus and reopening in museums.
Digital Culture Network have published a resource about Ticketing for Museums (including timed ticketing considerations, GDPR and Test and Trace information)
  Kids in Museums have published a Guide to how to use their Manifesto to plan for reopening.
  Collections Trust have shared a guide from the Institute of Conservation (ICON) on ‘Waking up Collections’ post-lockdown, looking at conservation issues that might have occured during closure.  Watch this great video by Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands, a fun and engaging way to welcome visitors back and advise them of how to visit safely.  The Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) created a map giving an overview of European countries’ museum reopening plans, advice about security measures and their strategies.

Useful Webinars
  Catch up with the Association of Independent Museums Virtual Conference – Roads to Recovery (18th-19th June) where you can watch or listen to full sessions and view captioned highlights.
  Watch the Post COVID-19: re-opening museums around the world webinar from the International Council of Museums UK from 25th June
  The Museums Association held a Coronavirus Conversations: Reopening Museums Webinar last week, on how museums can welcome back visitors when they are able to reopen.
  Coming up: Association of Independent Museums/Charity Finance Group webinar – ‘A Legal Look at Reopening Your Museum’ on 13th July for AIM members. Reviewing key areas from a legal perspective, including becoming ‘COVID safe’.

7. Support and training for museums – helpful links

Our e-learning modules

As part of last year’s Rural Proofing Resilience Programme, in partnership with Cornwall Museums Partnership, we have developed e-Learning modules.

Our introductory online courses cover a range of topics: Fundraising, Governance, Finance, Business Planning & Marketing.

Online Learning and Webinars

Digital Culture Network – Join webinars, videos and resources to help support your digital skills including website optimisation and income generation.

The Arts Council England Tech Champions can help with one-to-one support and answer your key digital questions. Get in touch with the Tech Champions at [email protected]

Future Learn – Sign up for a variety of courses from core business skills to museum courses designed by universities

Arts Marketing Association – Offering free arts marketing webinars and regular Q&A sessions

One to one support opportunities

Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy – Offering a Power Hour of consultancy support on income generation, fundraising and donor cultivation

Real Ideas Organisation – Book a free 1:1 session with one of the RIO cultural business support team or join a webinar

Association of Independent Museums – Apply for support with with one of AIM’s experienced consultants on museum issues that could include finance, leadership, managing people or planning.

Also, ‘The HR Dept’ are offering AIM members support for HR issues for directly related to COVID-19, by phone or email between working hours (9am-5pm Monday-Friday). Read their FAQs

Online Resources

Arts Council England – A central resource listing Government and wider support for organisations and individuals relevant to the cultural sector in consultation with DCMS.

Charity Commission – Read the published guidance from the most commonly asked questions from charities during COVID-19

Collections Trust – A section on resources for ‘Collections in Lockdown’

Culture24 – Digital Pathways resources to help you with digital tools and channels

Audience Agency – A variety of resources and webinars to support cultural organisations

Kids in Museums – Resources to support working with children and young people and activities for families

The Cultural Health & Wellbeing Alliance – A list of links to useful resources and advice on health and wellbeing

Bates Wells Solicitors – Free resources and features on legal support for your museum, including employment and solvency advice

Museum Association – Offering a suite of Museum Essentials online learning courses – currently on Collections and Ethics (for MA members only)

Temporary pay walls removed

Creative Industries Federation – Offering freelancers and small businesses 6 months membership to access their network and resources

Crowdfunder – Waiving platform and other fees for freelancers/creative businesses (e.g. Holburne Museum’s campaign)

Arts Professional – Free access to the Arts Professional CovidCulture articles, resources and online events

National Council for Voluntary Organisations – NCVO members’ guidance and resources supporting charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers, are now temporarily free for all. We thought this Virtual Teams resource was particularly helpful.

Paid Training

Arts Fundraising & PhilanthropyOffering a virtual training for trustees and fundraisers to support your museum and develop leadership skills

Association of Cultural Enterprises – Online training modules including Retail Essentials and Licensing

COVID-19 resources for museums

COVID-19 Support: Governance for Charities in Times of Crisis – A Guide for Trustees

Read the key considerations, for governing bodies of museum and heritage organisations, in response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Support: Guidelines for Safe Volunteering during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Read our key considerations for volunteer management and operations including: safeguarding, DBS processing and volunteering to support the emergency response.

COVID-19 Support: Keeping Your Museum and Collections Safe

Download our practical resource containing advice and checklists on how to keep your museum and collections safe during closure

COVID-19 Support: Main collections risks during closure

Download our practical resource containing practical information, advice and further reading regarding the seven main risks for your collection during closure.

COVID-19 Support: Funding Factsheet – our breakdown of HM Government’s support

Read our guide to help you interpret what financial support is currently available to you and how to prioritise what action you might need to take.

COVID-19 Support: Audience Insights – Things to do now to help you get ready for the future

Read our top tips on how to use audience data now to help you plan for the future.

COVID-19 Support: Audience Insights – Baseline Summary of Audience Data Template

Use our template to help you create a baseline summary of your audience data.

COVID-19 Support: New ways to encourage volunteers

Read our guidance for encouraging volunteers in new ways, such as distance or virtual volunteering.

COVID-19 Support: Contemporary collecting during closure

Read our guidance before starting any contemporary collecting during COVID-19 closure