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Policy & Strategy
External Policy Responses
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Grants & Awards
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Grants & Awards

MLA funds research, development and capacity building to support museums, archives and libraries in line with its Annual Work Plan and key objectives.

It does this through:

How to obtain funding from us

The grant schemes that we have open at the moment are:

MLA/V & A Purchase Grant Fund

This is a Government fund administered by the V&A in partnership with MLA. It contributes to the purchase of objects relating to the arts, literature and history by museums, galleries, record repositories and specialist libraries in England and Wales.

Through the acquisitions it supports, the Purchase Grant Fund aims to help and develop the quality and standards of regional collections for the understanding and enjoyment of the public. The Fund's vote for 2001-02 is 1 million. Objects, collections or archives of any date costing between £500 and £300,000 are eligible for support.

Grants are calculated at the rate of £4 for every £1 of locally raised funding up to a maximum of 50% of the purchase price. In exceptional circumstances grants of up to 80% may be considered. No applicant may receive more than £80,000 in any one financial year. Grants are normally allocated weekly towards those cases considered to be of particular merit, apart from those costing over £60,000 which are considered monthly.

Decisions are normally given within four weeks of receipt of all necessary information. For more information phone 020 7942 2536 or email


The Fund for the PReservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM Fund) supports the acquisition and/or conservation of a movable object or group of objects illustrating the history of any branch of science or technology.

Until 31 March 2003, the Fund was administered on behalf of MLA by the Science Museum. MLA allocates the PRISM Fund £250,000 per annum.

For more information and forms to apply, visit PRISM Fund on this website.

Revenue Funded Bodies

Regional Agencies

MLA provides annual base grants to Regional Agencies and the remaining Area Museum Councils. These are allocated through Annual Funding Agreements; the budget for this is not competitive and applications are not received against it.

Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU)

MLA provides funding to the Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU) under an Annual Funding Agreement. LISU analyses, interprets and publishes statistical information and related management data that are relevant to the information and library community.

The LISU Continuation Award for 2002-2003 (ref. SP030) is for £129,600. For further information, please contact Simon Matty at MLA on 020 7273 1443 or email

UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN)

MLA (together with the JISC, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the UK higher and further education funding bodies) funds The UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN) under a three-year funding agreement. UKOLN is a national focus of expertise in digital information management.

It provides policy, research and awareness services to the UK library, information and cultural heritage communities. It is based at the University of Bath.

The UKOLN Base Grant (ref. RE 190) is for £726,058 and the duration is from 01/08/2002 to 31/07/2004. For further information, please contact Martin Nail at MLA on 020 7273 1423 or email

24 Hour Museum

The 24 Hour Museum is the UK's national virtual museum at MLA funds the 24 Hour Museum on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to provide news and information as well as an online directory of UK museums.

The annual base grant for the 24 Hour Museum (ID 1117) in this financial year is 173k. Please contact Nick Poole on 020 7273 1410 or email for further information.

Capacity Building and Strategic Planning for Archives

MLA has provided funding (through the National Council on Archives) to the nine English Regions to produce regional archive strategies to set the framework for future archive development, and to enable Regional Archive Councils to appoint Regional Archive Development Officers (£250k).

These posts will enable the Regional Archive Councils to implement the archive strategies and to develop stronger links and promote collaboration between the archive community and museum and library colleagues and educational services in support of MLA's cross-domain agenda.

This funding is a series of contracts and is not open to applications. For more information, please contact Justin Frost, Archives Adviser at MLA on 020 7273 1477 or email

Other Funding

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gift

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation places a major focus on helping to improve people's lives through health and learning. MLA administered a grants budget of $4 million (c. £2.6m) on behalf of The Foundation to help provide ICT facilities in UK public libraries that are situated in areas of social deprivation. The Gift helped with the installation of ICT learning centres in public libraries by providing 55 main learning centres (of 7-12 terminals each) and 296 Branch learning centres (of 2-6 terminals each) across the UK. These learning centres provide public access to the Internet free of charge.

The Gift has been fully allocated. It was allocated to the Devolved Administrations along the same percentage lines as the New Opportunities Fund Call (People's Network) allocations. For more Information, please visit or contact Oliver Gillman at MLA on 020 7273 1401 or email

Conservation Awards 2004

MLA is one of the sponsors of the 2004 Pilgrim Trust Conservation Awards. The awards are made for an exceptional conservation or preservation project and fall into the following categories:

  • £15,000 for the Award of Conservation
  • £10,000 for the Student Conservator of the year and their training institution
  • £5,000 for the new Digital Preservation Award
  • £2,000 for the Anna Plowden Trust Award for Research and Innovation

The awards will be presented at the British Library in June 2004.

Full details of the scheme is at:

Cultural Diversity Network

MLA allocated this £10k funding package across each Area Museum Council to encourage the development of innovative methods of reaching Ethnic Minority Groups. This grant award has been fully allocated and is not open for applications. If you need further information about the Cultural Diversity Network, please contact Jonathan Douglas, Head of Learning and Access, via email: or phone 020 7273 8295.

DCMS/Wolfson Public Libraries Challenge Fund

Between 1997 and 2002 MLA administered this scheme on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Wolfson Foundation. The purpose of the scheme was to enhance the services of English public libraries for their users. £13 million funding was provided for 138 public library based projects. The scheme has now finished.

The scheme was a competitive grant scheme open to all English public library authorities, regional library systems or (for final two years) organisations involved in the development of reading. There was an invitation to bid once a year sent out by the DCMS. MLA then administered the selection process, monitored progress and organised payments. More details about the scheme are in the DCMS/Wolfson area of this website.

A showcase of the projects supported by the scheme is available on the DCMS/Wolfson section of this website.

The Designation Challenge Fund

The Designation Challenge Fund is available to Museums with Designated Collections. Currently under review, this phase of the Fund began in April 2002 and a total of £5.25 million was awarded to 49 museums in the Designation Scheme in July 2002 for projects which will be completed by the end of March 2004.

The fund currently has four themes, Care of Collections, Research and Understanding, Access to and Use of Designated Collections and Strategy and Planning. Funding is mostly revenue, although small capital has also been supported. The scheme has been fully allocated and is closed for applications.

For further information see the Designation Challenge Fund page on this website, which is part of a larger area on Designation.

Finding our Past: The Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Portable Antiquities Scheme was established to improve arrangements for recording all "portable antiquities" which fell outside the scope of the Treasure Act 1997. The aim of the scheme is to encourage the reporting of, and to record for the public benefit all archaeological objects found by members of the public.

Portable Antiquities pilot schemes have been in operation since 1997 and the current scheme is managed by MLA on behalf of the DCMS. An expanded Portable Antiquities Scheme across the whole of England and Wales with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund starts in April 2003 for a period of three years.

At the heart of the new Scheme is a network of regional Finds Liaison Officers and a team of Finds Advisers, overseen by a Central Co-ordinating Unit based at the British Museum.

For more information please visit the Portable Antiquities website.

Share the Vision

MLA is working in Partnership with Share the Vision to allocate a £200,000 grant from DCMS to ensure that blind and visually impaired people benefit in a much wider way from access to library and information services.

The most substantial element of this programme of activities will be the development of the Reveal database, a collections register of alternative formats e.g. books in large print, audio and digital formats.

Share the Vision/Reveal is a series of contracts and is not open for applications. For more information on Share the Vision and Reveal please email

Discontinued Schemes

MLA was formed from the Museums & Galleries Commission (MGC) and the Library &Information Commission (LIC), both of which were grant-making bodies. Below is a list of schemes which were previously funded.

British National Bibliography Research Fund (BNBRF)

The British National Bibliography Research Fund (BNBRF) supported small-scale projects in the book and information worlds, particularly in areas where the interests of different sectors (publishing, bookselling, libraries) interact. The Fund has now been discontinued and no further applications will be accepted.

IT Challenge Fund

The fund, administered by MLA on behalf of DCMS, provided £500,000 over 18 months to support innovative partnership projects using ICT in museums. The scheme has now closed. Details of the 11 projects enabled by the IT Challenge Fund, are on the People's Network website.

Sharing Museum Skills Millennium Awards (SMSMA)

This scheme was administered by MLA on behalf of the Millennium Commission. The aim of the scheme was to improve the public's experience of Museums, Archives, Special Collections and allied heritage institutions by enabling staff and volunteers working within these organisations to share, learn and apply new skills through paid secondments. With a budget of £828,000 the scheme operated for three years with its final closing date for applications in September 2001.

For further information see the Workforce area of this website.


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