A project supported by HLF's Collecting Cultures fund. Concerns have been raised that the new funding framework will lead to less project work in museums

HLF changes name and launches five-year framework

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 31.01.2019
Funder rebrands as National Lottery Heritage Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund has changed its name to coincide with the launch of its new five-year framework.

Now called the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to place greater emphasis on the contribution of National Lottery players, the organisation will disburse around £1bn over the next five years.

It has devolved 80% of its funding decisions – including all grants up to £5m –  to committees in the devolved nations and three newly-defined areas in England. Currently, 50% of funding decisions are made by its central headquarters.

Grants of more than £5m and a number of other funding streams will still be disbursed at national level.

The organisation has also unveiled a simplified funding portfolio. This comprises National Lottery Grants for Heritage, an open programme for any type of heritage project from £3,000 to £5m; heritage funding campaigns to target strategic needs or funding gaps; joint funds delivered in partnership with other organisations; social investments such as impact funds and loans; and two rounds of major grants, which will provide grants of more than £5m in 2020-21 and 2022-23.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage are now open, with applicants asked to deliver projects that meet six strategic objectives: 

  • continue to bring heritage into better condition
  • inspire people to value heritage more 
  • ensure that heritage is inclusive
  • support the organisations fund by the NLHF to be more robust, enterprising and forward looking
  • demonstrate how heritage helps people and places to thrive
  • and grow the contribution that heritage makes to the UK economy. 

The other funding streams will be rolled out over the coming year. The heritage funding campaigns will offer specific funds for time-limited projects. One of these campaigns, Dynamic Collections will support the development of curatorial skills, sharing expertise, storage solutions, developing and rationalising collections, and utilising collections to benefit people and communities.

Other campaigns will focus on digital capacity building; wellbeing; a programme of thought leadership, sharing practice and collaboration; and capacity building and resilience, which will include a new Heritage Impact Fund providing loans of £30,000 to £500,000.

Ros Kerslake, the CEO of the NLHF, said: “Over the next five years, the National Lottery Heritage Fund will inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage, distributing more than £1bn.  So we will be making more decisions on funding locally and focusing on the heritage that really matters to people, creating jobs, bringing economic prosperity and improving people’s lives right across the UK.”

The Museums Association’s policy officer Alistair Brown said: “Overall I think the new framework looks good. Simplified processes, devolution of decision-making and clearly defined outcomes will be welcomed by museums across the UK. We’re also pleased to see campaign funding for a Dynamic Collections project, which has been an area of focus of the MA’s Collections 2030 research – although there are scant details thus far on what this will look like.

"The one area of concern that I have is the move away from ringfenced funds, such as the Collecting Cultures fund. This may result in these projects simply not happening, as museums could prioritise big-ticket capital funding bids instead of smaller project work, so we’ll be watching with interest to see if this is the case.”

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