Liverpool’s Bluecoat is among the many arts institutions that has benefited from HLF money

MA cautions against HLF's proposed open grant programme

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 04.04.2018
Funding body seeks to create single pot for all applications
An open grant programme for all types of applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) might discourage more innovative proposals in favour of "traditional 'bricks and mortar' funding bids", the Museums Association (MA) has warned.

In its response to HLF's consultation on its five-year strategy, which closed in March, the MA said: "We are concerned that by creating a single pot for all types of grant, the ability of HLF to direct grants to meet specific policy requirements will be limited."

The MA also warned that simplifying the grant-giving system would be likely to result in "organisations promoting large-scale capital projects over other projects (which would be seen as internal competitors)".

"The impact of such an approach would therefore be to reduce the number of innovative project-based digital and skills initiatives - particularly anything that is large scale and ambitious," the MA wrote. It called on HLF to maintain a "clearer separation" between key policy priorities such as Skills for the Future and the rest of the funding pot.

The MA's policy officer Alistair Brown said: "Although there are good intentions behind this proposal, without the impetus to focus on these specific things, institutions might let them fall by the wayside."

The association welcomed other proposals put forward by the HLF as part of its five-year strategy, particularly its suggestion to provide match funding for organisations that use crowd-funding to win support for heritage projects.

The MA said: "Matched funding for relatively small projects may be a good way of leveraging HLF funds to support projects with popular appeal."

The MA also urged HLF to focus its investment on capital projects for existing institutions and collections ahead of new museums, as recommended by last year's Mendoza Review.

The consultation asked respondents to rank the five most important aspects of HLF's role, other than grant-giving. In response, the MA urged the HLF to prioritise attracting other public or private support for heritage; helping people and communities meet their aspirations; supporting organisations within and beyond heritage to come together; advocating for the value of heritage; and supporting the capacity and resilience of the heritage sector as a whole.


MA response to HLF consultation (word)