News & Insight

6th November 2019

3 transformative funds on the horizon for the UK’s heritage sector

Liz Purchase, Senior Consultant, Arts & Heritage at Philanthropy Company, shares insight into new funding streams opening, and investment coming into the heritage sector.

The UK’s heritage contributes enormously to the economic, social and cultural life of the country; our cloud-capp’d towers, gorgeous palaces, and solemn temples (apologies to William Shakespeare!) support tourism, creativity, the health and wellbeing of the country, and the potential for communities to thrive. Launched last month, The Heritage Alliance’s report ‘Inspiring Creativity, Heritage & The Creative Industries‘, highlighted success stories like Historic Royal Palaces WW1 poppies project, Harry Potter location filming at Alnwick Castle, and the Minecraft at Stonehenge project. The economic value of these and many other heritage collaborations are important; music heritage for example is estimated to be worth £4 billion to the UK economy (the Beatles’ story alone generates £70 million for Liverpool) but important too is the value of heritage for the wellbeing of people and communities.  If 80% of people think local heritage ‘makes living in their area better’ [1] and the impacts on individuals include increased social connectivity[2], it is easy to see how the historic environment can support the increasingly important role of social prescribing.

What about the museums, historic houses, churches, and industrial heritage sites struggling to secure the funding that will enable them to keep pace and flourish?  The good news is that there are lots of opportunities out there, reflecting a mood and momentum to cherish heritage, but also an increased awareness of its value for the UK’s future prosperity.

The team at the Philanthropy Company are always scanning the horizon for new funding streams opening, and investment coming into the heritage sector.  We are happy to talk about the scope of opportunity, but here are a few key funds we think are going to be transformative in getting heritage projects off the ground:

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund – one the UK’s biggest cultural sector funders, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will be continuing this innovative fund in 2020 to help museums make the most of their under-utilised collections. Run by the Museums Association (MA), the Collections Fund has seen £8.5 million awarded to 108 projects since 2011.  Being able to use collections more fruitfully with communities will also open-up and leverage further funding potential.  Final details about the application process and the deadline will be published in December, but we understand from the MA that the deadline is likely to be around March next year.

National Lottery Heritage Fund – the largest UK heritage grant funder launched their new five-year funding framework earlier this year; still very much an ‘outcomes’ funder, a new outcome has been added this year ‘People will have greater wellbeing’ – this means successful projects must create heritage activities to create healthier and happier local communities.  A pot of £1.2 billion is available for the next five years – our specialist heritage consultants are already working with clients, including important listed historic buildings, to create strong applications.

Government Historic High Street Fund – added in September to the existing £1.5 billion commitment to support high streets, this new £95 million fund to ‘breathe new life into historic high streets‘ will be the biggest ever single investment by Government in the UK’s built heritage.  For the towns and cities that will be supported, the potential for their museums and heritage sites to leverage funding against this investment will be enormous.

With extensive experience and skills in the heritage sector, our senior consultants can help you to access these funds, and many more; do get in touch for an informal and confidential chat if you think we can help.




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