ACE announces details of £42m fund to boost libraries and creative projects

ACE announces details of £42m fund to boost libraries and creative projects

Arts Council England has announced the details of a £42m fund to boost local libraries, creative projects and museums across the country.

The package is made up of three different investment funds — the cultural development fund, the museum estate and development fund and the libraries improvement fund. They are part of a programme by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), which was originally announced in 2019, but put on hold owing to the pandemic. The fund is administered by Arts Council England. 

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.” 

An award of nearly £4m has already been given to Coventry City of Culture, and more than £12m has already been committed to support the regeneration of the National Railway Museum in York.

The libraries improvement fund has a budget of £5m for the year and will be used to offer a series of grants helping libraries upgrade their facilities to better serve their local communities. Grants 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.

With a budget of £18.5m, the cultural development fund is designed to reflect "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.

The museum estate and development fund has a budget of £18.8m for this financial year, and is available to non-national accredited museums. Grants from this fund will help museums to carry out work on vital infrastructure and maintenance issues but can also be put towards improving accessibility and environmental sustainability.

Laura Dyer, deputy chief executive for places and engagement at Arts Council England, commented: “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 £42m from the Department for Culture, Media & 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.”