Art Fund, the UK’s national charity for art, is giving £800,000 in total to 21 museums and galleries across the UK to “help them reimagine their support for their workforce and improve inclusion and diversity”, according to a statement. In addition, Art Fund will provide £200,000 funding awarded through Museum Development UK to help support staff working directly with collections.
The Art Fund grants programme, known as Reimagine, “will enable museums and galleries to foster inclusivity and create opportunities for diverse voices to contribute to the cultural sector”, says Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund, in the statement.
The move is timely in the wake of funding challenges for museums and galleries in the age of austerity; culture commentators are also concerned about further threats to arts provision across the UK regions with local authorities such as Birmingham effectively declaring themselves bankrupt.
Art Fund recipients include Studio Voltaire in Clapham, south London, which has been awarded £50,000 for its The Step-Change programme, which will fund a new curatorial role and wellbeing programme aimed at ensuring “greater retention of diverse staff”. Spike Island in Bristol, meanwhile, receives £31,520, which goes towards 40 free associate bursary places for young people from marginalised and underrepresented communities in the city.
Other recipients include Glasgow Women’s Library (£42,446 for Re/imagining a Framework for Inclusive Collecting) and the Contemporary Visual Arts Network which was awarded £50,000 for its Fostering Equity in the Visual Arts Sector initiative. Oriel Myrddin in Carmarthenshire, Wales, meanwhile, has received support for its Engagement Curator: Perspective(s) Programme, its initiative focused on "developing new ways of working with underrepresented communities", according to Waldman. Art Fund’s Reimagine grants programme is possible due to funding from The Headley Trust, The Kirby Laing Foundation and Art Fund's members and donors.
Last year the Art Fund published a report—entitled "It’s about handing over power"—on diversity in the curatorial workforce, which was commissioned in partnership with the advocacy organisations Museum X and Culture&.
Rachel Browning, deputy director of programme and policy at Art Fund, writes in the report that “we need to put in place funding and structures to better support and enable independent curators and practitioners of colour, both inside and outside of institutions, investing in new and alternative models”.