Arts Council England publishes guidance for £42 million Cultural Investment Fund package

Arts Council England today, 24 May 2021, publishes the guidance for the three investment funds that collectively form the Cultural Investment Fund; the latest cultural investment package to support the long-term recovery of the arts, heritage and creative industry sectors, building on the momentum of the Culture Recovery Fund. The Cultural Investment Fund is a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) programme administered by Arts Council England. We’ll also be working with our colleagues from Historic England (HE) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to deliver the three strands.

Aiming to help improve existing and deliver new cultural infrastructure across England, the three capital funds are Cultural Development Fund (CDF), Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) and Libraries Improvement Fund (LIF). An award of £3,965,000 from the Cultural Investment Fund has already been given to Coventry City of Culture which started on 15 May, and more than £12 million has already been committed to support the regeneration of the National Railway Museum in York.

Originally announced in 2019, the Cultural Investment Fund was put on hold during the pandemic while we prioritised delivering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help the cultural sector manage the immediate impact of Covid-19. Together with DCMS and heritage bodies, the Arts Council is pleased to launch these three funds, an investment of £42million this financial year, which will support organisations in making a positive difference to communities across England as the arts and culture sector reopens and recovers.

Culture connects people to places, shaping how they feel, creating jobs, forging connections and strengthening the feeling of community. The Cultural Development Fund (CDF) will support places outside of London to invest in creative, cultural and heritage initiatives that are designed to make places more attractive to live and work in and to visit. This builds on the success of the first round of the Cultural Development Fund round launched in 2018, which has resulted in five successful and innovative projects in places across England. With a budget of £18.5 million in this financial year, the Cultural Development Fund recognises the transformative power that culture can have on economic and social growth and productivity. Successful projects will reflect the needs of each area, bringing together partners such as a local authority, a university, or a Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver ambitious and innovative initiatives to enable real local transformation.

More information on the aims and outcomes of the fund can be found in the guidance for applicants on the Arts Council England website.

The Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) is available to non-national Accredited museums and has a budget of £18.8 million for this financial year. Grants from this fund will help museums to carry out work on vital infrastructure and maintenance issues delivering on recommendations from the Mendoza Review of museums in England commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). While supporting repairs, the fund can also be used towards improving accessibility and environmental sustainability.

More information on the aims and outcomes of the fund can be found in the guidance for applicants on the Arts Council England website.

Libraries sit at the heart of our communities, providing a safe space for visitors while also offering a wide range of services such as digital access and skills development, reading groups, and back to work programmes. TheLibraries Improvement Fund (LIF) has a budget of £5 million for this financial year which will help libraries upgrade their facilities to better serve their local communities. A  grant could be used to refurbish a library to create flexible spaces for local people, suitable for delivering cultural events and health and wellbeing classes, or it could support the improvement of library buildings by increasing changing facilities and purchasing furniture or equipment. Acquiring more computers could help local people apply for jobs and improve their digital literacy skills and updating software might be useful for ticketing events and better communication with library users. This funding can also be used to make libraries more accessible or environmentally sustainable.

More information on the aims and outcomes of the fund can be found in the guidance for applicants on the Arts Council England website.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“After awarding hundreds of millions in emergency grants and loans to help cultural organisations survive the immediate effects of the pandemic, it’s now time to look to the future. The Cultural Investment Fund will boost local museums, libraries and creative projects across the country, helping local communities build back better and ensuring culture is at the heart of their recovery.”

Laura Dyer, Deputy Chief Executive, Places & Engagement, Arts Council England said:
“At Arts Council England we believe that culture and the experiences it offers can have a deep and lasting effect on places and the people who live in them. Investment in culture helps improve lives, regenerate neighbourhoods, support local economies, attract visitors and bring people together. This investment of £42 million from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will support a range of capital projects across England to support recovery, growth and the unlocking of creative potential as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England said:
“Historic England is proud to support the roll out of the Museum Estate and Development Fund. It will ensure that funding reaches important heritage sites and places of learning, which are vital for our understanding of history and our national wellbeing.”