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

Latest information for museums during COVID-19

Last updated 16.00 Wednesday 20th May 2020

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

Updates on our communications to you

  • Our latest newsletter was sent on Monday 18th May and is focused on international awareness campaigns for this week – including International Museums Week, Mental Health Awareness Week, Creativity and Wellbeing Week.
  • Our newsletters have recently been sent out weekly to keep you updated. As information is being filtered to us at a less time sensitive pace we are now moving our newsletters back to a monthly overview; with links to our tailored guides and resources, sector updates and funding opportunities sign up here.
  • Past issues can be read here
  • Please do get in touch if we can support in any way via email [email protected] so that we can connect you to the best person in our team for your query.

Arts Council have asked organisation to log any concerns they are experiencing with Arts Council England at [email protected]. Please do cc [email protected] so that we can keep track with any South West museum specific concerns.

Index for this page:

  1. Emergency funding updates
  2. Training
  3. Accreditation
  4. Collections security during lock down
  5. Support and training for museums – helpful links


1. Emergency funding updates (HM Government Financial Support, Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund)

Updates to HM Government’s financial support  

We have created a Funding factsheet to help navigate the financial support available.

Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – now open.

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
  • Applications close on 30th June.
  • 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)

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

Esmée Fairbairn

Sustaining Engagement with Collections,
Grants of up to £30k for projects of up to a year.
Will support 12-15 organisations to explore different ways of engaging with collections while physical access is not available or is severely limited.
The deadline for applications is 26 May 2020.
This is a one-off funding round with a quick turnaround that has been developed to complement other funding streams, in particular those from Art Fund and the NLHF Digital Skills for Heritage. Encouraging potential applicants to think about experimental or innovative interventions with collections online, and/or collections work that will put the museum in a stronger position when it is able to reopen, for example by building audiences and income generation through work with collections.
How to apply: 
This is a simple, one stage application process.  Applicants should first read the Sustaining Engagement with Collections Guidance for Applicants. They encourage discussing your idea with their team before applying.
Key Dates: The deadline for applications is 5pm on 26 May 2020 and successful applicants will be informed w/c 15 June 2020.

2. Training

South West Museum Skills 2020/21

Our popular training programme will be back this Autumn and will look a little different from usual to reflect current circumstances. We want to ensure the training and accompanying resources we provide meet your needs not only now, but once your museum has reopened. Keep an eye on our training pages for updates.

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 are 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.

3. 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

4. Collections security during lock down

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


5. 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 an hour of 1:1 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

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

Group for Education in Museums (GEM) – Free 1 year access for education freelancers and heritage education professionals new to GEM

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 session on how to Be a Chair  for trustees looking to 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.