Latest information for museums during COVID-19

Last updated 16.00, 30th September 2021

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

We regularly check and update the information on this page – as the situation develops over the coming months, this page can be used as a hub of useful links and resources, whatever scenario your museum is currently facing.

We feel one of our top priorities is looking after the wellbeing of each of us individually and of those we work and volunteer with.

It is more important than ever that we mobilise the communities that have been formed within museums across the South West to support each other as we navigate the coming months. Reach out to those you work with, talk about how you are feeling and in turn listen and be open in your dialogue, join people together as we know you have been doing in such uplifting ways in the past year.

The South West Museum Development team is here to support you.

  • 1. National Guidance

    As the response to the pandemic continues, guidance is being developed to help organisations plan and make informed decisions.

    Latest Announcements –

    Autumn and Winter Plan 2021

    The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’ setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England.

    On 19th July England moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap, detailed by the Prime Minister setting out the easing of restrictions in England.

    Step 4:

    “While cases are high and rising, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. This is why we are keeping in place key protections” Gov UK website, Step 4 page.

    • Step 4 came into effect Monday 19th July
    • Social distancing guidance will no longer apply. This page on the Gov UK website provides more information for events and attractions including six priority actions (also listed below) to protect yourself and your visitors.
    • Face masks are no longer legally enforced but still advised to be worn on public transport. “Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.” (Gov UK Step 4 guidance)
    • Retailers, hospitality businesses, transport services and other public venues will be able to implement their own rules regarding face masks, social distancing, and check-ins.

    Self-isolation requirements

    • From 16th August, double vaccinated people or those under 18 are no longer legally required to self-isolate if identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case and will be advised to take a PCR test.
    • Double-vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate as long as they received their second vaccine in the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with
      a positive case. Anyone who tests positive following the PCR test will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of vaccination status or age.

    Six priority actions for attractions

    Laid out by the Government to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus – read in full on the Gov UK website page for events and attractions.

    1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19.
    2. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away
    3. Provide adequate ventilation
    4. Clean more often
    5. Enable people to check in at your venue
    6. Communicate and train

    Key Protections as laid out by Government

    (applicable to individuals, venues and their workforce and volunteers in England from 19th July)

    Although it is no longer a legal requirement for venues to display an NHS QR code or request that customers, visitors and staff ‘check in’, this is still encouraged.

    • Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
    • Isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace or when advised to by the NHS COVID-19 app.
    • Whilst the Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer
    • Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport
    • Being outside where possible or letting fresh air in
    • Minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts
    • Encouraging businesses and large events to use the NHS COVID Pass* in high risk settings to help to limit the risk of infection

    *NHS Covid Pass allows you to check your Covid status and demonstrate that you are at lower risk of transmitting to others through full vaccination, a recent negative test, or proof of natural immunity.

    Reopening Guidance

    Read the latest Good practice guidance for reopening museums from the National Museum Directors Council.

    Visitor check in guidance

    People can check in (still recommended in Step 4 after July 19th) by scanning the NHS QR code poster via their NHS COVID-19 app or by providing their contact details.

    This will support NHS Test and Trace to contact people exposed to COVID-19, so that they can book a test.

    Establishments should encourage attendees to check in and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors who choose to provide their contact details, including:

    • hospitality, including pubs, bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes
    • tourism and leisure, including theatres, museums and cinemas

    Find out more on the Government test and trace pages.

    Arts Council England Statement

    On 16th July, Arts Council England published a statement on their expectations that cultural organisations take steps to ensure that disabled and clinically vulnerable colleagues, performers and visitors are supported and given the flexibility they need to feel safe to return.

    Read the Arts Council England Statement. 

  • 2. Reopening Support

    Reopening Guidelines and Checklist

    The Coronavirus Covid-19 NMDC Good Practice Guidelines on Reopening Museums have been updated in line with the new restrictions, with new sections updated August 31st 2021.

    In June 2020, as part of the Museum Development Network, we worked with the Association of Independent Museums to produce A Checklist for Re-opening Your Museum.

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

    Face coverings

    Face masks are no longer legally enforced from July 19th but still advised to be worn on public transport. Venues are able to implement their own rules regarding face masks, social distancing, and check-ins.

    Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.

    Government Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – Returning to work safely, business considerations

    HSE have produced some information that will help support businesses with reopening – check regularly on their Coronavirus pages for the latest health and safety updates, as restrictions change.

    Legionella risks during the pandemic

    If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus restrictions, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

    Read the latest guidance on legionella risks during the coronavirus pandemic 

    EMBED Reopening Recommendation guidance

    EMBED, Disability Collaborative Network (DCN) and the University of East Anglia, School of Health Sciences have produced the Reopening Recommendations Support Service which supports museums in their reopening plans and provides checklists in specific areas and pragmatic action for disabled and neurodivergent visitors, volunteers and the workforce.

    Read the guidance and find out more (March 2021) 

    Rapid Lateral Flow Tests Kits for Organisations’ Employees or Volunteers

    You can now no longer order free rapid lateral flow tests for your employees via the Government website.

    Instead you can provide your own testing scheme, through a private provider, or ask your employees to get a rapid lateral flow test at home or at a test site.

    For full information go to the Government testing web ages.

    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. You can also read more COVID-19 guidance on the Visit Britain website.

    Government Guidance for Heritage Locations

    On 17th September 2021 the Government updated their Guidance for Heritage Locations as a section in their events and attractions advice.

    This is for those operating, working and volunteering in heritage attractions (including open air site/museums and historic houses).

    Other reopening resources and guides

    The Museum Association has published Organisational and Employment FAQs in relation to COVID-19 and reopening in museums.

    If you require support or advice, please contact your local Museum Development Officer, or get in touch.

  • 3. Recovery Funding and Grants

    Our Recovery Grants with Art Fund

    The latest funding round for our Recovery Grants has now closed (the deadline was 12th July 2021).

    Sign up to our monthly newsletter to be kept up to date with all opportunities from South West Museum Development.

    Arts Council England Cultural Recovery Grants:

    Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage:

    Strand 1 – Emergency Resource Support

    A grants programme for arts and cultural organisations in urgent need of funding: Culture Recovery Fund: Emergency Resource Support.

    This programme is designed to support organisations at imminent risk of failure and will provide emergency funding to help them return to financial viability.

    Read the guidance published on the Arts Council England website  (7th July 2021).

    Grant range: Between £25,000 and £3 million (£1 million for for-profit organisations)

    Eligibility: Cultural organisations that are properly constituted with a governing document and are able to demonstrate, via cashflow forecast, they are at risk of ceasing to trade viably within 12 weeks of the point of application. (Includes National Portfolio Organisations)

    Key dates:

    • Rolling programme.
    • Applications opened: 12pm (midday), 15 July 2021.
    • Application Deadline: 12pm (midday), 14 October 2021.
    • Applications are subject to permission to apply being granted, at which point applications must be made within 5 working days. Permission to apply requests will be accepted from 8 July 2021. The latest a permission to apply request will be accepted is 12pm (midday) on 30 September 2021.

    Strand 2 – Continuity Support

    This programme is designed for organisations that have already received support from the Culture Recovery Fund and are still in need. This strand will enable cultural organisations to reopen/restart their operations, where appropriate and/or operate on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis, in line with Government guidance.

    Read the guidance published on the Heritage Fund website

    Grant range: Between £10,000 and £1 million to cover core operating costs

    Eligibility: Organisations must meet this criteria:

    • An organisation that has received a grant under the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, Round One, Round Two or Emergency Resource Support
    • Spent 90% of their most recent Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grant
    • Organisation is at risk of ceasing to trade viably by 31 March 2022
    • Can demonstrate that they require a grant between £10,000 and £1million

    Key dates:

    The fund opened on 16th August 2021 and applications are welcome from 12 noon on 29th October 2021.

    Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants

    Applications are open for Project Grants – until 31 August 2021, the fund will focus on the needs of smaller independent organisations and individual practitioners

    Arts Council England have released an applications update in February 2021 due to a high number of applications – If submitting an application for £15,000 or under allow up to 10 weeks to receive your decision. If submitting an application for over £15,000, allow up to 16 weeks to receive your decision.

    If you are thinking about applying there is a large amount of guidance and FAQs on the Project Grants web pages.

    Restart Grant: Guidance for local authorities

    • The Restart Grant will be a one-off grant funding scheme in Financial Year 2021-22.
    • It will support hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises with one-off grants of up to £18,000 in Strand Two of the Restart Grant.
    • Museums and art galleries are specifically listed under leisure businesses.
    • Available from 1 April 2021 but applications can be submitted in advance.

    The following thresholds apply for these businesses:

    1. Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
    2. Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
    3. Businesses occupying hereditaments with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.

    Art Fund Opportunities

    Reimagine Grants – New project grants offering support to build expertise, capacity and connections within and outside the sector, following the pandemic.

    Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund

    The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is offers applications in two rounds each year:

    • Two funding streams for collections engagement, both offering grants up to £90,000 over around two years.
    • In total £1.3m will be awarded, anticipated to be 7-10 projects in each funding round.

    Other grants providers

    Keep up to date with the latest grant schemes offered by the following organisations:

    Smaller grants

    We also share details of smaller funds in our monthly email bulletin – subscribe to our newsletter.

    You may also consider subscribing to the GRIN email bulletin which features daily grants and funding updates or access to a grants database, for a small annual fee.

  • 4. Job support

    Government Kickstart Jobs Scheme

    Become a host for the Government Kickstart job scheme. This is a 6-month job placements scheme for 16-24 year olds, running until June 2022, with £2 billion of government funding pledged towards it.

    New information is coming out every day about this job creation scheme, intended to support 16-24 year olds to develop the skills that they will need to navigate a uniquely challenging job market. Employers that will host fewer than 30 placements, need to find a ‘Gateway’, or representative body, to apply for this funding on their behalf.

    There have been significant changes to the Kickstart Scheme in 2021 and so we have updated this news post and set of FAQs about the Kickstart jobs scheme to help museums consider this opportunity.

    If you decide to put your organisation forward to a Gateway, or if you are a volunteer led organisation and new to employing young people, get in touch with us through our email [email protected], using the subject line ‘Kickstart’ and your Museum’s name.

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Government Furlough Scheme)

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme officially ended on 30th September 2021.

    Head to the Business Support pages of the Government Coronavirus website, to find out more about how you can support your staff.

    Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – fifth grant

    The online claims service for the fifth grant of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) are available to cover the period May 2021 to September 2021.

    Self-employed individuals will receive 80% of their average trading profits for November, to make a total of 55% for the three months covered, up to £7,500. You can check if you are eligible for the scheme here.

    Fifth grant

    • The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
    • The fifth grant will be worth:
      • 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more
      • 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%

    You also may find the resource page from the Museum Freelance Network useful if you are working as a freelancer in the sector.

  • 5. Training

    South West Museum Skills Training

    Our popular training programme for Autumn 2021 will be open for booking later in the summer.

    Check our training pages for the latest available training sessions.

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to be the first to hear about our latest sessions.

    Our training is currently hosted 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 future. We may repeat some sessions, recognising a phased approach across the sector to returning to work/volunteer roles and reopening.

    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.

  • 6. Accreditation and Governance Updates

    Museum Accreditation Updates

    Arts Council England paused the receipt and assessment of new applications and returns to the Museum Accreditation scheme.  It did this to devote its energies to supporting museums deal with the exceptional circumstances posed by lockdown.

    We shared a news post with an update on the Scheme, taking into account Arts Council England’s January 2021 update.

    Latest updates:

    • Arts Council is instigating a phased approach to reopening, giving priority to first time applicants and those new to the Scheme.
    • The current Accreditation status of museums, galleries and heritage organisations within the Scheme will be extended for another 12 months until April 2022.
    • Museums with Accredited or Provisionally Accredited status are still able to apply for funding and access training which states Accreditation status as an eligibility criterion.
    • Due to the evolving situation, the Scheme is subject to change. Further information will be shared in March 2021.

    Arts Council England Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS)

    This scheme offers an alternative to the cost of commercial insurance. It allows organisations to display art and cultural objects to the public that might not otherwise have been shown due to the high cost of insurance.

    The scheme provides cost-free indemnity cover to borrowing institutions for loss or damage to art or cultural items on short or long-term loan. Objects can be intended for public display or study purposes.

    Find out more about the Scheme on the Government Indemnity Scheme website.

    March 2021 GIS team update – Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus

    • The GIS team recognise the Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive titled Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
    • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers: Emerging from Lockdown guidance
    • GIS advice: ventilation is just one of a range of measures used to control the spread of viruses, and its use should be balanced against other negative impacts such as increased pollution, energy, noise, security, health, well-being and environmental conditions.
  • 7. Volunteering updates

    Government guidance on volunteering

    The government have updated their guidance (July 19th) for supporting volunteers and volunteer managers during the pandemic. Read the full guidance on Gov UK website.

    For practical resources on Sustainable volunteering, see our archive of resources, or get in touch.

  • 8. Audiences updates

    Kids in Museums Manifesto – reopening

    Kids in Museums have produced an updated guide to help museums provide a quality experience for children and families when they reopen with social distancing measures. The guide has plenty of links and advice to help your museum welcome families back when they are able to.

    GEM – space for learning COVID secure guidance

    GEM have produced some COVID secure guidance to help museums, galleries, heritage and performing arts sites adapt their learning spaces and programmes in response to Covid-19.

    This guidance has been compiled by members of the Space for Learning: Covid Secure working group and individual task & finish groups, with support from the Clore Duffield Foundation, Engage, GEM and the Theatre Education Forum.

    The guidance aims to help learning services and freelancers understand how to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, and provide a practical framework to think about what is needed to continue – or restart – learning services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Arts Marketing Association – Audience Diversity Academy 2021

    Looking for specialist support and training to help diversify your audiences? Arts Marketing Association (AMA) will host their Audience Diversity Academy again in 2021.

    This tailored programme supports museums to make lasting organisational change around Diversity and Inclusion, helping to grow confidence and new approaches to building better relationships with diverse audiences. The current programme is running until March 2021 but you can register your interest for September 2021.

    Audience Agency ‘Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor’

    To support cultural organisations in their preparedness to reopen, the Audience Agency has shared the findings from its ‘Covid-19 Cultural Participation Monitor’. This longitudinal survey helps to understand and track the changes in the public’s cultural participation through and beyond Covid-19 and the undeniable impact it has had on cultural services. The current report details the findings of the first wave of research from Autumn 2020 which will be added to over the coming months as the Audience Agency continues to research the continuing impacts of Covid-19 on cultural audiences.

    You can find this report alongside other insightful audience research studies and resources on the Bounce Forward section of the Audience Agency’s website.

    For practical resources on Audiences, see our archive of resources, or get in touch.

  • 9. External support – helpful links

    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 – scheme now extended to February 2021.

    Real Ideas – Speak to the Real Ideas team (our bridge organisation for the south west) or join a webinar for more information on what they can offer.

    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 course (for MA members only)

    Museum Freelance – Offering useful resources, guidance and links relating to museum freelancers.

    Temporary pay walls removed

    Crowdfunder – Waiving platform and other fees for freelancers/creative businesses if your orgnanisation is raising money in response to the effects of COVID-19 (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 have an archive of Knowhow Coronavirus guidance and links supporting charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers. Some of these are now free to access. 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

Our COVID-19 resources for museums

COVID-19 Support: Workforce wellbeing

Read our guide to workforce wellbeing, looking at simple ways to support your own and your teams’ mental health.

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.

Audiences: Baseline Summary of Audience Data Template

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

COVID-19 Support: Contemporary collecting during closure

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