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

£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. This funding was available to independent museums who are most acutely feeling the impact of COVID-19. 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 is making £330,000 available to support museums with the costs of opening back up in a way that ensures the safety and confidence of staff, volunteers and visitors while restrictions are still in place due to COVID-19. This fund opened for applications on 6/7/20. 

In August 2020 the Recovery and Resilience Fund for independent museums was announced. Opening to applications on 17 August 2020, this £4million fund will help to secure the future of Scottish independent museums put at risk by the pandemic and protect the vital role that they play in their communities. It will do so by supporting museums with operating costs (up until 31 March 2021) or with activity that will help them to achieve greater financial sustainability by 31 March 2021.

Recovery and Resilience Fund

Independent museums affected by the pandemic can apply for support with their operating costs up to 31 March 2021 or to fund activity that will help them to build resilience and sustainability to manage financial challenges beyond 31 March 2021.

Find out more

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 COVID-19 Pandemic.

Find out more

Please get in touch with our Grants Team with any queries about current or future applications. 

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

Third Sector Resilience Fund

The Third Sector Resilience Fund (TSRF) is a £20m emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland. The primary intention of the fund is to help third sector organisations to stabilise and manage cash flows over this difficult period.

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.

Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund

Any creative, tourism and hospitality companies who are not in receipt of business rates relief can apply. Companies of up to 50 employees will have rapid access to £3,000 hardship grants. Larger grants up to £25,000 are available to those who can demonstrate that level of support is required.

This fund is not currently open for applications.

Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund

This grant is for businesses that can play a critical role in supporting Scotland’s recovery but need some immediate support. It might be to get back up and running or to maintain or diversify your current operations.

If you have the potential to continue trading and supporting employment but have an immediate cash flow challenge, then this grant is for you.

This fund is currently closed to new applications. 

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

Heritage Emergency Fund

National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) have launched the Heritage Emergency Fund to help support the heritage sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. The £50 million UK wide fund will provide grants of £3,000 to £50,000. The fund will prioritise those most at risk who can not access other forms of emergency funding.  

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2020. Full details are available on the National Lottery Heritage Fund website

NLHF have announced a new level of Heritage Emergency Fund grants for support ranging from £50,000 to £250,000. 

The new funding level will open for applications on 21st May. Further details are available on the National Lottery Heritage Fund website

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 October 2020. 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. You can read the announcement in full on the website

Charities Aid Foundation Coronavirus Emergency Fund (currently paused)

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has launched a rapid response Fund to help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 will help them to continue to deliver much needed support to our communities across the UK. 

The fund has received requests for over £20 million in support and paused new applications. They hope to reopen again when additional money becomes available and will announce this via their social media channels.

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

Business continuity 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