Advice and Support for Local Authority Museums

We recognise that Local Authority (LA) Museums sometimes ‘fall through the gaps’ for support, and funding in particular.  On this page you will find various sources of support, funding opportunities and advice on how to advocate for your investment to your Authority.


The Local Government Association (LGA)

The Local Government Association (LGA) is a key source of support for LA museums, whose role is to act as the national voice of local government, working with councils to support, promote and improve local government services.

Find out more about the Culture, Tourism & Leisure department

Read ‘Leisure under lockdown’ Case Study

The LGA recently published a report setting out the current key lobbying lines and sector statistics across the remit
of the LGA culture, tourism and sport board in September 2020, which may help museums lobby for support under the following headings:

  • Great places: how cultural organisations provide a valued service to communities.
  • Economic impact: economic benefits of cultural and tourism services.
  • Online/offline: virtual Vs physical premises based delivery models.
  • Social prescribing: the importance of culture and leisure for communities’ health and wellbeing.

Read the Report (PDF)

The LGA published a useful handbook for Councillors titled ‘Making the Most of your Museums’ in July 2019, which could prove a useful tool when advocating for your museum service.

Read the Handbook (PDF)

Arts Council England

The Arts Council commissioned a piece of research to explore the key challenges facing LA museums, and to form an understanding of how resilient they are likely to be in the face of continued cuts to public funding.

The report was published in 2015, but many of the findings relate to current circumstances facing LA museums.

Read the Report (PDF)

The English Civic Museums Network

The English Civic Museums Network commissioned research into the benefits of LA museums and their potential options for the future in 2018. Titled ‘The Future of Civic Museums: A Think Piece’, and although published pre-Covid-19, it offers some useful insights into the relationship between a place and its people, and the role of civic museums.

Read the report (PDF)

Thinking of moving to Trust status?

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) produced a helpful guide on moving to Trust, which although published in 2006 may still be of assistance to LA museums today.

Moving to Trust Part One (PDF)

Renaissance Yorkshire also published a guide on considering the options around moving to Trust which may be helpful.

Exploring Trust Options (PDF)


We are hosting a free online training session specifically aimed at LA museums titled ‘Finding Opportunities for Local Authority-funded Museums in a Cold Climate’.

Alistair Brown, Policy Officer at the Museums Association, will give an update on the sector and how the MA is advocating for museums, and Rita Chadha of the Small Charities Coalition will show how you can make your case for your museum, how to demonstrate that there is external funding that can help you, and finally what local government priorities present opportunities for future investment.

The session will take place online on the 4 December 2020, and places are prioritised for South East LA museums.

Book your place.



Zealous, a creative platform connecting industry members, are offering funding aimed specifically at LA museums in the form of ‘The Award for Civic Arts Organisations’. The Award is part of a suite of initiatives being supported by the Foundation as part of its response to the pandemic. It is focusing on strengthening the arts and cultural sector to respond to urgent community needs, prioritise relevance, and become more inclusive and impactful.

Award for Civic Arts Organisations

The closing date is 30 November 2020, so make sure you read the guidance immediately to assess whether you may wish to apply.

Criteria for applicants:

  • This award is open to arts organisations in the United Kingdom that receive public funding.
  • We define arts organisations as institutions which have a primary purpose of working in the arts or culture of any form. These could be, for example, orchestras, galleries, museums, theatres, or organisations that work in a variety of art forms. No preference is given for the type of art created: the focus is on how the arts organisation has been responding with their community.
  • We define public funding as money received from taxpayer funded government entities such as national Arts Councils or local authorities. We understand many applicants will receive a mix of public funding as well as earned revenue, donations, and private funding.
  • We do not seek to prescribe what an arts organisation’s community is. We understand that for some arts organisations, ‘community’ means those living nearby, while for others it can also mean a community of practice, or another organisation long associated with it, such as a care home or a school. It might also include the artists and/or creative team that form part of the organisation’s network.
  • Arts organisations of all sizes are welcome to apply.
    Arts organisations do not need to own or operate from a building to apply.
    Current grant holders from the UK Branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation cannot apply.
    These awards are for organisations, not individuals or teams within organisations.

Heritage Funding Directory

Managed by The Heritage Alliance and the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Heritage Funding Directory is a free guide to financial support for anyone undertaking UK related heritage projects. This is a useful starting point for navigating funding sources in the sector detailing sources of grants from trusts and foundations, as well as organisations offering loan finance, awards, scholarships and other ‘in kind’ resources.

Visit the Heritage Funding Directory here.

South East Museum Development

You can stay up to date with the latest news about our grants programme for all South East museums on our grants page.

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