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Arts Council England publishes guidance for £42 million Cultural Investment Fund package

Arts Council England today, 24 May 2021, publishes the guidance for the three investment funds that collectively form the Cultural Investment Fund; the latest cultural investment package to support the long-term recovery of the arts, heritage and creative industry sectors, building on the momentum of the Culture Recovery Fund. The Cultural Investment Fund is a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) programme administered by Arts Council England. We’ll also be working with our colleagues from Historic England (HE) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to deliver the three strands.

Aiming to help improve existing and deliver new cultural infrastructure across England, the three capital funds are Cultural Development Fund (CDF), Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) and Libraries Improvement Fund (LIF). An award of £3,965,000 from the Cultural Investment Fund has already been given to Coventry City of Culture which started on 15 May, and more than £12 million has already been committed to support the regeneration of the National Railway Museum in York.

Originally announced in 2019, the Cultural Investment Fund was put on hold during the pandemic while we prioritised delivering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help the cultural sector manage the immediate impact of Covid-19. Together with DCMS and heritage bodies, the Arts Council is pleased to launch these three funds, an investment of £42million this financial year, which will support organisations in making a positive difference to communities across England as the arts and culture sector reopens and recovers.

Culture connects people to places, shaping how they feel, creating jobs, forging connections and strengthening the feeling of community. The Cultural Development Fund (CDF) will support places outside of London to invest in creative, cultural and heritage initiatives that are designed to make places more attractive to live and work in and to visit. This builds on the success of the first round of the Cultural Development Fund round launched in 2018, which has resulted in five successful and innovative projects in places across England. With a budget of £18.5 million in this financial year, the Cultural Development Fund recognises 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 (MEND) is available to non-national Accredited museums and has a budget of £18.8 million for this financial year. Grants from this fund will help museums to carry out work on vital infrastructure and maintenance issues delivering on recommendations from the Mendoza Review of museums in England commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). While supporting repairs, the fund can also be used towards improving accessibility and environmental sustainability.

Libraries sit at the heart of our communities, providing a safe space for visitors while also offering a wide range of services such as digital access and skills development, reading groups, and back to work programmes. The Libraries Improvement Fund (LIF) has a budget of £5 million for this financial year which will help libraries upgrade their facilities to better serve their local communities. A  grant 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. Acquiring more computers could help local people apply for jobs and improve their digital literacy skills and updating software might be useful for ticketing events and better communication with library users. This funding can also be used to make libraries more accessible or environmentally sustainable.