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Renaissance in the Regions

Renaissance News

Issue 2 (October 2003)

Renaissance News (Issue 2) pdf version

The latest updates from the Regions in the second issue of Renaissance News. Hear from the Hubs themselves as their education and outreach programmes unfold in Phase One of Renaissance funding, and read the case studies to illustrate this development.

format: pdf v.1.4Issue 2 (PDF 158KB)

format: pdf v.1.4Issue 1 (PDF 151KB)

Renaissance in the Regions: A new vision for England's museums

Advantages of the new framework
Regional Museum Hubs
Selecting the Phase 1 Hubs
Next Steps
Supporting Documentation


Renaissance in the Regions: A new vision for England's museums

The UK has some of the finest museums in the world, and England's regional museums and galleries are a vital resource. They provide rich opportunities for learning; they promote social inclusion; they inspire and foster creativity; and they contribute to economic and social regeneration.

The Renaissance in the Regions report is the outcome of a Task Force set up in 2000 under then-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Chris Smith in response to people's growing concerns about the state of England's regional museums and galleries. Its recommendations present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform them.

Renaissance in the Regions: A New Vision for England's Museums - full report (PDF 912KB)format: pdf v.1.4

Renaissance in the Regions: A New Vision for England's Museums - executive summary (HTML)

The report recommends a new, integrated framework for the museums sector based on a network of regional 'hubs' consisting of one museum and gallery service with up to three or four partners.

These hubs can then be developed to promote excellence and be leaders of regional museum practice, working alongside partner organisations such as national and university museums, and strategic bodies such as the new Regional Agencies for museums, archives and libraries.


Advantages of the new framework

This new framework is enabling regional museums to improve their educational services and facilities; to build capacity and increase staff skills; to develop new exhibitions; to improve interpretation and displays. As a result, the learning and education potential of museums can be improved, with collaborative links with schools and colleges to ensure museums contribute to formal education as well as to lifelong learning. The number of visitors to regional museums will rise and access will be broadened so that people from all sectors of the community can share in the rich benefits their regional museums offer. With better facilities and increased access, museums will be able to play a bigger role in local tourism and regeneration initiatives. And displays and exhibitions will be improved, and more - and more exciting - objects displayed.


Regional Museum Hubs

Renaissance in the Regions sketched out the process by which the Hubs would be identified. This was followed up by extensive consultation with the museum domain on the set of criteria that would be used to choose a Hub for each of the nine English Regions. Following that consultation, a revised set of criteria was published and applications to become a Hub were invited by 19 April 2002.

Following extensive collaborative working between Regional Agencies and Area Museum Councils, professional bodies, the wider museums community and MLA, a single application for Hub status was submitted from each region. This was a significant achievement. The museum community in each region emerged at the end of the process with an enhanced understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and a deeper appreciation of the regional issues and priorities it faces.

Having received the nine applications MLA convened an Expert Panel to advise on the suitability of the proposed Hub configurations and the individual museums and museum services included. The applications were assessed against the published criteria and guidelines.

The Expert Panel consisted of:

  • Simon Olding, Director Policy and Research, Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Jane Ryder, Director, Scottish Museums Council/ MLA Board
  • David Fleming, Director, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside/ Regional Museums Task Force
  • Mark Taylor, Director, Museums Association
  • Michael Day, Director, Jersey Heritage Trust
  • Robert Crawford, Director, Imperial War Museum/ Chairman of NMDC (Chairman of Panel)
  • Dr Michael Jubb, Director of Programmes, Arts and Humanities Research Board
  • Mark O'Neill, Head of Glasgow Museums and Galleries
  • Marie Costigan, Department for Education and Skills
  • Emma Scott, Team Leader, Culture on Line, DCMS

Following the Expert Panel's recommendations, the MLA Board, at it meeting on 28 November 2002 agreed the configuration of the Regional Museum Hubs in each of the nine English Regions. Each Hub has an identified 'lead body' which will be responsible for coordinating the activity of the Hub.

List of regional museum hubsformat: html



The Regional Museums Task Force called for significant extra investment from central government to support the improvements recommended in Renaissance in the Regions - in total, some £250 million over the next five years. The sector was delighted when Chancellor Gordon Brown made specific reference to regional museums in his 2002 pre-budget report.

In October 2002, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it is to allocate £70 million over four years to support Renaissance. This is less than was requested, but a significant step towards achieving the vision. It is the first ever sustained revenue funding of its kind from central government. The money will be used to introduce the first phase of the new regional museum framework.


Selecting the Phase 1 Hubs

In light of the levels of funding from central government, the MLA Board decided to phase the implementation of Renaissance. While all Hubs will receive support for Renaissance objectives and initiatives from MLA in the next three years, three regions have been chosen to receive accelerated funding.

The MLA Board delegated authority for deciding which Regional Museum Hubs were to be in Phase 1 to an expert panel consisting of external advisers and MLA staff. The panel will assessed the Hubs against the following eight criteria:

1. Expert panel's rating of the Hub's credibility
2. Number of Designated collections held by the Hub and in the region as a whole
3. Number of visits to Hub applicants
4. Deprivation
5. Rurality
6. General state of the regional infrastructure
7. Commitment to partnership
8. Co-operative Hub working

The criteria were designed to assess which of the Hubs were in the strongest position to deliver aspects of the Renaissance vision quickly and effectively, with clear results that demonstrate the value of government investment. The criteria were applied rigorously and objectively and the resulting scores clearly suggested that three Hubs were strongly placed to immediately take on the full role described in the report. Those regions were the North East, South West and West Midlands.

The panel was in total agreement that the Hubs in the three selected Phase 1 regions had demonstrated the necessary capacity and commitment from governing bodies to equip them to take on the considerable responsibility conferred by accelerated funding immediately. However, they were enormously impressed with the progress that all Hubs have made.

MLA set about identifying an allocation mechanism for funding the hubs which would be:

  • fair and transparent and
  • result in a sufficient investment in Phase 1 Hubs for them to be able to deliver the Renaissance vision and demonstrate the value of government investment

The formula results in a 70:30 split between Phase 1 and Phase 2 and an allocation of 60% of available funds pro-rata to population and 40% in equal shares between the hubs in each Phase. This allows a satisfactory level of investment in each Phase 1 Hub, while providing all the Phase 2 Hubs with an allocation sufficient to support preparatory work in readiness for more substantial investment from 2006/07 onwards.

In addition it was agreed that:

  • some funds should be held centrally for evaluation and for central initiatives of benefit to all the Hubs and the programme overall
  • That a Specialisms Fund should be established to encourage partnerships between Hubs and allow them to develop specialist expertise in an area of current strength.
  • That the commitment to the designation challenge fund should be maintained during 2004-6

As already announced, MLA will be channelling significant extra support through the RAs to museums not in Hubs, through the £2 million Museum Development Fund.

The table below sets out the agreed distributions to the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Hubs 2003/04 to 2005/06

Proposed distribution* 2003/04 m 2004/05 m 2005/06 m Total m
Phase 1 2.10 5.74 10.78 18.62
North East 0.53 1.45 2.72 4.70
South West 0.77 2.10 3.94 6.81
West Midlands 0.80 2.19 4.12 7.11
Phase 2 0.90 2.45 4.63 7.98
East Midlands 0.12 0.33 0.63 1.08
East of England 0.14 0.38 0.72 1.24
London 0.17 0.45 0.85 1.47
North West 0.16 0.44 0.82 1.42
South East 0.18 0.48 0.92 1.58
Yorkshire 0.13 0.37 0.69 1.19
SpecialismsFund 0.00 0.90 1.70 2.60
Total 3.00 9.09 17.11 29.20

* 70:30 split with 40% shared equally/60% by population

DCMS ring fenced 10 million of the Renaissance investment for delivering education programmes to school aged children. An additional 2.2 million has been made available from DfES to support this element of the Renaissance programme.

In 2003/04 only the Phase 1 Hubs will be funded to deliver education programmes. Both the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Hubs will be funded to develop education programme delivery plans which will set out how, over the next 2 years (2004-6) they propose to work with schools in their region to support delivery of the school curriculum and to begin to provide a comprehensive service to schools. The table below sets out the allocations for this strand of work.

Education Strategy Funds* 2003/04 m 2004/05 m 2005/06 m Total m
Phase 1 1.62 2.88 3.57 8.07
North East 0.43 0.73 0.91 2.07
South West 0.57 1.02 1.27 2.86
West Midlands 0.62 1.13 1.39 3.14
Phase 2 0.48 1.22 1.53 3.23
East Midlands 0.08 0.17 0.21 0.46
East of England 0.08 0.19 0.24 0.51
London 0.08 0.22 0.27 0.57
North West 0.08 0.22 0.28 0.58
South East 0.08 0.24 0.30 0.62
Yorkshire 0.08 0.18 0.23 0.49
Evaluation 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.90
Total 2.40 4.40 5.40 12.20

* Planning only to Ph 2 in 2003/04, thereafter 70:30 Ph1/Ph2, 40% equal shares 60% school age population

These allocations are subject to agreement of an Operational Plan for 2003/04 and a Business Plan for 2004/05 and 2005/06 for each Hub and then to delivery of the activities and results envisaged in those plans.

The main mechanism governing the relationship between MLA and each Hub will be the Funding Agreement. In some cases MLA has a single funding agreement with the lead Hub partner, which is then responsible for passing on to its Hub partners their allocation as set out in the operational plan for 2003/4. In others MLA has individual funding agreements with all Hub partners. This has been done to accommodate the preference of the Hub and reflects individual regional circumstances.


Outputs and outcomes

There is an acute need to demonstrate the benefits of the Government’s investment in regional museums. In the longer term the success of Renaissance will be determined by the impact the project has made on the institutions which have been funded and, through them, on the lives of the people who have used their services and interacted with their collections.

The £70 million initial settlement from DCMS and HM Treasury was not sufficient to enable the full implementation of the Renaissance vision. It was therefore important to agree what should be the priorities for action so that each Hub could develop plans and targets for delivery that are challenging but achievable. The priorities, which were agreed following consultation with Hubs and other stakeholders, are designed to ensure that Hubs can deliver the Public Service Agreement targets set by DCMS:

  • Additional 500,000 visits to regional museums by new users predominantly from social class C2, D, E and ethnic minorities by 2005/06
  • Increase in the number of contacts between children and regional hub museums by 25% by 2005/06

In addition they will enable regional museums to realise the vision in the Renaissance in the Regions report of sustainable capacity building to enhance the care and management of collections, improve scholarship, and through this to deliver improved services to a broad range of users.

Funding agreements stipulate that the Regional Museum Hub work closely with the ‘Regional Agency’. Working with all museums is an important part of the Renaissance in the Regions vision so Hubs need to work with the Regional Agency to help deliver against its strategy for museums in the region.


Proposed priority areas

Phase 1 Hubs are developing plans showing how they will deliver in all the areas outlined below. Work packages will be designed to meet the needs of the individual Regional Museum Hubs. The Phase 2 Hubs have been asked to develop plans showing how they intend to prepare themselves for delivering against all of these outcome areas from 2006.

Details of the priority areas

  • Creating a comprehensive service to schools
  • Reaching a wider community
  • Develop a programme for the re-display of the permanent collections which combines high quality scholarship, excellent interpretative and design techniques
  • Enhance the care, management and conservation of the collections
  • Improve access to knowledge and information
  • Develop the workforce
  • Reaching/implementing existing standards and frameworks
  • Ensure that the Hubs operate in the most effective and efficient way to deliver high quality services to users


Business Planning & Delivery

At the beginning of July the Hubs submitted their operational plans for 2003/4. These were assessed by a panel consisting of DCMS, DfES, and MLA staff. The panel’s recommendations have now been fed back to the Hubs and Funding Agreements were issued to Hubs at the end of July. Brief summaries of each plan are being prepared and will be available here shortly.

MLA will be issuing Planning guidance to the Hubs in the Autumn and all Hubs will submit 2 year business plans in February 2004 detailing their programme of work for 2004-6. These will be assessed by a wider panel and, like the 2003/4 plans will be available via this website once they have been agreed.


Next Steps

With the selection of the Phase 1 Hubs, the project moved into its implementation phase. MLA has been working closely with all Hubs, Regional Agencies for museums libraries and archives, DCMS, professional bodies and other stakeholders to develop the implementation plan and determine the priorities for activity over the next three years.


Supporting Documentation

The report UK Museums Needs Assessment (PDF 1.02MB) by ABL Consulting, published in June 2002, was commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund in collaboration with MLA. It draws together the findings of a complex set of new research and consultation exercises and reviews the existing data to describe and comment on the long-term and strategic needs of the museums domain. Its findings reinforce the recommendations made in Renaissance in the Regions.

A range of papers and reports was commissioned to inform and support the Renaissance in the Regions strategy (all HTMLformat: html):

The current situation
Markets and users
Collaboration and rationalisation
Collections and research
Capacity to change
The twenty-first century museum

Any enquiries or feedback regarding Renaissance in the Regions should be directed to


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