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Financial support for museums during COVID-19


This guide contains sources of financial support for museums currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak.

Gov.UK has created a Business Support Checker tool to help organisations understand the business support available to them. This tracker is a good first point for museums trying to ascertain what government support they can access. 

Go to the Business Support Checker

MGS funding streams

MGS has been monitoring the sector’s financial needs arising as a result of Coronavirus and we are working to make our funding responsive. All of our regular grant funds have been suspended until further notice to allow flexibility to respond to the current situation.

Since April, five special funds have been set up to get funding to the sector to deal with needs resulting from the Coronavirus outbreak:

In April £700,000 of Scottish Government funding was made available to establish an Urgent Response Fund to support museums and galleries critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund closed to applications on 15 August.

A further £115,000 of capital funding was distributed through a fund to support the purchase of equipment necessary to enable work from home and provision of digital access to museum collections and activity. This fund closed on 3 July.

A third fund was announced in June 2020: The COVID-19 Adaptation Fund made awards totalling £330,000  to support museums with the costs of opening back up in compliance with government guidelines around Covid 19. In October 2020 this fund temporarily closed but reopened 27 January 2021. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis and expect to close the fund on 22 March 2021. 

COVID-19 Adaptation Fund

Museums can apply for up to £7,500 (£10,000 for partnerships) to purchase equipment and training that will enable them to reopen safely and in accordance with restrictions due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

In August 2020 the Recovery and Resilience Fund for independent museums opened.  The fund awarded £4.6 million to independent museums run by not for profit organisations supporting operating costs (up until 31 March 2021) or activity that will help them to achieve greater financial sustainability by 31 March 2021. This fund closed on 30 October 2020, but reopened on 28 January 2021 and will now offer support for organisations until 30 June 2021. Any organisation wishing to apply to the fund is required to submit an expression of interest to MGS no later than midday on 19 February

COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Fund

Independent museums can apply for support to help them recover from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and build resilience and sustainability.

Flexibility around project timescales and how funding is used 

Some projects which we are supporting through our funding streams will need to be paused or changes might be required. We are happy to discuss these issues with you on an ongoing basis as the situation evolves. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any changes to your funded projects. 

Grant payments 

We will endeavour to ensure that grant claims are processed as normal. Where our grant contributes to someone’s salary we will continue to accept claims for those costs, even if the post holder is unable to deliver the project as planned due to the impact of Coronavirus. 

For organisations currently delivering Small or Museum Development Fund projects, please remember that you can submit interim claims once you have reached a claim level of £2,000 after your award percentage has been applied, and you may wish to consider this to help improve your cashflow at this time. 

Scotland specific support

Scottish Government rates relief

The Scottish Government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts) and one-off grants for some businesses. Museums and galleries are included among the businesses eligible to apply.

Strategic Framework Business Fund

The Strategic Framework Business Fund is for Scottish businesses that are required to close by law as a result of COVID-19 restrictions from 2 November 2020. It replaces the Coronavirus Restrictions Fund that covered closures in October 2020. The fund can provide financial support for temporary closures and where businesses can remain open but are required to modify their operations due to changes in law (such as shorter opening hours).  

Applications should be made through your local authority website


Visitor Attractions Support Fund

The Visitor Attractions Support Fund, worth £10 million, will be delivered by VisitScotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government in collaboration with the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA). The fund is designed to help keep visitor attractions in business while restrictions are still in place and to support them to prepare for reopening in 2021 when possible.

The fund is part of an  overall £104.3 million package  of support for tourism businesses and will be open for applications from 12 noon on Thursday, 11 February.  Final amounts awarded to a successful applicant will be determined once all applications are received by the closing date of 5pm on Thursday, 18 February. 

Visitor attractions will be able to apply for grants of up to £50,000. Full details on the fund are available here alongside the eligibility criteria and what information applicants will need to prepare for their application.

This fund will be open to visitor attractions who meet the definition of a ‘visitor attraction’ as set out within the guidance notes, and who have an annual turnover in excess of £10,000. Please note, not all applicants who apply will be successful, and those who are may not receive the full amount requested.


SCVO Independent Funders

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have created a list of independent funding organisations who are offering financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Museums may be eligible for many of these funds. 

View independent funders on SCVO website

UK wide financial support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covers employer National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed workers – on top of 80% of salary. It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. 

The UK Government has announced that the scheme will be extended to March 2021. There will be no changes to the operation of the scheme until August 2020 when there will be flexibility to allow employees to return to work back part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. 

Job Support Scheme 

The UK Government Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses who are facing lower demand over the winter months due to Covid-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce by contributing a third of an employees salary. The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months.

Charity Finance Group have created a guide for charities which better explains the changes in the Job Support Scheme.  

National Lottery Grants for Heritage

On the 25th November, the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) resumed accepting applications for project grants from £3,000-£10,000 and £10,000-£100,000, looking for projects with emphasis on organisational resilience and inclusion. Beginning 8th February 2021 they will also resume accepting applications from £100,000-£250,000 and £250,000-£5M, expecting projects to demonstrate that they're building long-term environmental sustainability and inclusion into their plans. The funding will support heritage organisations to adapt to changed circumstances, to closely examine their existing business models and to develop new, creative, and more resilient ways of operating.

Further details can be found in the blog from CEO, Ros Kerslake.


Museum fundraising guidance

Museums and heritage organisations have felt the impact of closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Many face significant financial challenges as they try to model what the future holds for both their teams and the collections they care for. National Museums Scotland have put together a fundraising guidance on how to effectively fundraise, considering the limitations of lockdown and closures.

Related guide

Operational advice during COVID-19

This page contains information for museums currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak. Including signposting to financial support, business continuity advice, and best practice to follow.

Find out more