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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.

About the fund

This fund comes from the £97 million package of funding to protect Scotland’s culture and heritage sectors from the impacts of Covid-19, a result of the £1.57bn in culture funding announced by the UK Government.

The Scottish Government have allocated £4 million from this package to the Museum Recovery and Resilience Fund which aims to secure the future of Scottish independent museums put at risk by the pandemic and to protect the vital role that they play in their communities.

The fund is intended to prevent museums from running out of funds before 31 March 2021, but also to support them to develop their resilience by adapting to changed circumstances, supporting their workforce and re-engaging with their communities. It will give independent museums the chance to plan and implement measures that will help them to achieve greater financial sustainability by 31 March 2021.

All funds must be awarded by 31 December 2020 and spent by 31 March 2021. It is not necessary for museums to have reopened to the public before 31 March 2021 in order to be eligible for the fund.

Who can apply for this funding?

We will accept applications from any independent museum in Scotland run by a not for profit organisation and which meets the MA definition of a museum:

“Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.” MA definition, 1988

They must also:

  • Operate a physical site/space/building which is normally open to the public for a minimum of 20 days a year
  • Provide access for the public to see and engage with the museum’s collections
  • Be a formally constituted not for profit organisation

Organisations that run museums that are not Accredited and that have not previously applied to our funds will have to complete an eligibility questionnaire to verify eligibility. Please note that any funds awarded to organisations that are new to us will be proportionate to their museum specific activity as opposed to any wider heritage or visitor attraction remit that they may have.

Independent museums in receipt of funding directly from the Scottish government should contact MGS to discuss eligibility for these funds before starting an application.

What we can fund

You can apply for support to cover a funding gap that you anticipate occurring before 31 March 2021 but also to undertake activity that will build up your organisation’s resilience to manage the ongoing financial challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Please note that we want to see applications focused, not on getting back to the position the museum was in prior to the pandemic, but on using the funding opportunity to enable you to plan and build a more resilient and sustainable future.

The fund will support:

1. Operating costs up to 31 March 2021

Where applicants can demonstrate that their capacity to cover their operating costs has been adversely affected by loss of income due to Covid-19 and that, without support they will deplete their reserves to less than the equivalent of 12 weeks’ of operating costs. Costs that can be supported may include;

  • salaries, including the cost of bringing staff back from furlough
  • overheads (utilities, admin costs, IT, insurance, service contracts)
  • budget allocation to essential collections care and display costs
  • increases to operating costs necessary to comply with Covid-19 restrictions

2. Re-start costs

Museums can apply for funds to cover the up-front costs required to re-open and start generating income again, both for the remainder of the 2020 season and for the 2021 season. Costs that can be supported may include;

  • café and retail stock
  • marketing
  • programming that complies with Covid-19 restrictions

Applicants will need to explain why these costs are essential to enabling them to re-start income generation.

The costs of the basic and essential adaptations necessary to comply with government guidelines on Covid-19 will still be covered by our separate Covid Adaptation Fund , it can be used for the acquisition of essentials such as PPE, screens and signage.

3. Critical repairs and maintenance

The fund can support critical maintenance or one-off repairs that are either essential to opening museum buildings or urgent to prevent an escalation of costs.

4. Business model review and implementation costs

The financial challenges created by the pandemic have created a context where a review of business models and plans, operations and priorities will now be appropriate for many organisations. We want to support museums to use this as an opportunity to adopt more resilient structures and sustainable business models that will help them to face the challenges ahead. Therefore, costs that can be supported may include;

  • professional advice in the areas of business and financial planning, organisational sustainability and workforce development
  • organisational restructuring
  • training and skills development
  • partnership working
  • steps to open up new income streams
  • increasing environmental sustainability

5. Activity to support and develop community wellbeing

Museums play a vital role within their communities, delivering social impacts in education, health and wellbeing and this is now more important than ever. In addition, embracing and celebrating this role is often a key pillar of the most resilient museums. The fund will therefore support activity that will help museums to re-start, refocus or expand their work within their local communities in response to new circumstances brought about by the pandemic.

Such activity will not necessarily require a museum to be fully re-opened to visitors. Often engaging volunteers is one of the main strands of a museum’s community role so volunteer focused activity will be suitable for this fund.

Applicants will need to articulate how the activity will strengthen the museum’s relationship with its community in a sustainable way and the value it will bring both to the community and the museum. They will need to make plans to measure and evidence this value, MGS can offer support on how to do this. 

6. Other activity to build up sustainability and resilience

Museums may identify other ways in which they can build up their resilience to withstand ongoing and future challenges. Where they can make a case that specific activity will make them more resilient we may be able to offer funding support. This kind of activity might include things such as;

  • Understanding collections in the context of current local, national and global issues, such as inclusivity or the climate emergency, and finding ways to meaningfully and effectively engage with and contribute to them
  • Developing digital activity and engagement to enable museums to work more flexibly and responsively in future

What we cannot fund

  • Costs that can still be covered by the government’s Job Retention Scheme where staff remain on furlough, or additional salary costs above the furloughing cap
  • Costs that you will incur beyond 31 March 2021
  • Anything that contravenes the Scottish Government’s advice on COVID-19
  • Recoverable VAT
  • Costs already covered through other emergency support funding, for example through the MGS Urgent Response Fund or NLHF’s Heritage Emergency Fund
  • A sum to cover lost income over and above what is required to cover essential operating costs up until 31 March 2021 or to maintain reserves above the equivalent of 12 weeks’ of operating costs
  • Activity that is about simply resuming things planned prior to the pandemic that have not been reframed and refocused on building sustainability and resilience in the context of the challenges brought about by the pandemic
  • Debts pre-dating March 2020

How much can museums apply for?

We will assess the case for need for the amount requested in the context of the size of the organisation applying and evidenced by the information they have supplied. However these grants are subject to state aid rules and therefore will not exceed the threshold of €800,000 (£732,320 at July 2020).

We expect most awards we make to be upward of £10,000. Some smaller organisations may find that their needs are not at this level and therefore requests for smaller amounts can be considered.

Assessment criteria

We can only fund museums that:

  • Were financially viable, or taking definite steps towards financial viability, before the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Have had their financial sustainability put at risk by Covid-19

There will be very few organisations that have not seen their financial position impacted by Covid-19 and there will be many that had previously worked very hard to achieve financial stability only to see this severely compromised by the pandemic. We will want to hear how your financial position has been affected and what implications this will have for your organisation.

  • Have already taken other appropriate action to respond to the impact of Covid-19

We will want to hear about steps you have already taken to reduce costs (including those you made during lockdown if you have now reopened) and other sources of emergency support that you have explored or secured.

  • Have in place, or in development, clear and credible plans for working towards financial sustainability beyond 31 March 2021

In deciding whether we can award funds and how much we can award we will assess:

  • The organisation’s financial need
  • The role the museum plays within its community with respect to cultural, social and economic impact

We will need to understand what the impact of the loss of your organisation or reduction in its activity would be. It will be particularly important to protect organisations in places where there is an absence of other opportunities for cultural engagement.

  • The impact of the activity you are asking us to fund

We will need to understand what difference the funding is going to make for your organisation in relation to ongoing operation and building resilience and sustainability, and for your community.

Additional consideration that will not be relevant to all applicants:

  • The proportion of the organisation’s activity that is museum related

For most applicants, all activity will either be museum related or about generating income to support museum activity. However, there will be a few organisations for which museum activity is just one of several areas of work. In these cases, the amount of funding that can be offered will be proportional to the organisation’s museum related activity.

When to apply

The fund will open to applications on 17 August 2020 and we will accept applications on a rolling basis until the fund closes at 5pm on Friday 30 October.

We will assess applications as we receive them and will endeavour to inform applicants of a decision on their application within 4 weeks. Applicants will be notified if assessment of their application will take longer. All of the funding will be awarded by 31 December 2020.

If we award funding

If you are awarded a grant, you will be required to:

  • Sign a form confirming that you will comply with legislation regarding state aid
  • Submit quarterly monitoring reports for a minimum of 1 year updating MGS on progress against the activity outlined in your application, the impact it is having and on the financial health of your organisation
  • To participate in evaluation of the programme which may include a final report on the impact of the funding for your organisation and/or sharing of your learning with the wider sector
  • Publicise your grant in collaboration with our Communications department
  • Commit to take reasonable steps to protect the collections you are responsible for and to ensure ongoing access to them for the public.
  • Inform us of any significant changes that impact on your use of the funds
  • Retain financial and other documentation relating to the grant and comply with random sampling checks that MGS carries out to ensure appropriate use of the funds.

How to apply

You will need to complete an application online. There are also some supporting documents that you will need to send with your application, these can be uploaded to the online application form:

  • an expenditure breakdown – all applicants must complete the template which is available in the section ‘Supporting Documents’ on this page
  • a copy of your most recent independently examined or audited accounts
  • a cashflow forecast – all applicants must complete the template which is available in the section ‘Supporting Documents’ on this page

Before you begin an application, please read through our FAQs.

Applicants must complete the form online, however if you wish to view the application questions prior to beginning an application, a PDF version of the application form is available at the bottom of this page.

Apply via MGS Online

Get in touch

If you have questions or would like to discuss an application with us, please do get in touch. We are expecting quite a high volume of contacts so please do follow the instructions below to help us respond to you as quickly as possible;

  • If we have already contacted you by phone regarding this fund, you will have been given the name of a specific member of MGS staff who you should contact to discuss an application. They will be expecting your call so please do get in touch with them directly, if you don’t have contact details for them, you will be able to find them on our website here.
  • Please do not phone our grants number directly with enquiries about this fund. If you have not been given a contact name please email us at and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

State Aid

This fund is subject to state aid rules. The maximum funding an organisation can receive under the Covid-19 Temporary Framework for UK Authorities is €800,000.  This becomes a factor if grant recipients are already in receipt of other relevant state aid and a grant from this fund would push the total amount of state aid that they had received between 6 April 2020 and 31 December 2020 above the limit.  For information, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not classed as state aid under this framework. Awards from the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise COVID Support are, but please be aware that this is not an exhaustive list.

This will affect very few of the applicants to this fund but applicants should be aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that an award from us would not put them in breach of state aid rules. If awarded a grant, you will be required to sign a declaration confirming this and that you were not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019 (within the definition of Article 2(18) of the General Block Exemption Regulation) on 31 December 2019 (Annex C).