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£1 million of DCMS funding awarded to boost digital development in heritage organisations

By March 18, 2021No Comments

A charity supporting butterflies and moths and a museum dedicated to Burnley’s textiles industry are among the successful organisations awarded funding by The National Lottery Heritage Fund Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, to raise digital skills and confidence across the UK heritage sector. National Lottery funded Digital Skills for Heritage has expanded thanks to an additional £1 million from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. 

Today 12 grants have been announced, awarded to address three distinct areas; driving digital innovation and enterprise, providing answers to organisations’ most pressing concerns, and empowering collaborative work to achieve common aims. 

Digital skills are more relevant and necessary than ever as heritage organisations affected by the coronavirus pandemic look toward a more resilient future. In October 2020, The National Lottery Heritage Fund published the findings of its survey of over 4,000 staff, trustees and volunteers at 281 heritage organisations, identifying the current digital skills and attitudes of the sector. The results highlighted what tools and training organisations needed to weather the coronavirus pandemic and move forward into a more resilient and creative future.  


Taking Digital Forward 

·       Charity Digital Trust has been awarded £249,800 to boost digital innovation, enterprise and business planning amongst small to medium sized heritage organisations in the UK. Later this year the Trust will deliver training to at least 500 organisations. Alongside in-person events and activities this vital work will help support the heritage sector make effective use of digital as they look to their post-pandemic recovery.  

Answering the Sector’s Digital Questions  

·       Funding of £435,300 has been awarded to three teams; Arts Marketing Association, University of Leeds and The Heritage Alliance, who will work together to research and answer the heritage sector’s 100 most pressing and frequently asked digital questions by providing a range of free online learning resources. Topics to be addressed are digital engagement, sharing content, business models, recovery planning and digital leadership, with content going live from June.  

Connected Heritage 

Over £788,000 has been awarded to eight initiatives that will work with other organisations to build network capability and make use of technology for collaborative practice. These recipients will pool resources and expertise to promote heritage and attract digital volunteers. This funding will support the sector in building future resilience, opening up heritage to more people who can care for it, widening its interpretation and increasing its relevance. As part of these projects volunteers, community groups and staff members will learn new skills to help them build strong, open and supportive networks. Successful applicants include: 

·       Butterfly Conservation, a Dorset-based charity dedicated to protecting moths, butterflies and the environment. Thanks to an award of £115,000 they will improve the flow of wildlife conservation data between their volunteers and record keepers. Volunteers will develop new skills that will enable data to be made available more quickly for scientific research and conservation decisions.  

·       Gawthorpe Textiles Collection in Burnley is one of the largest textile collections in the country. A £99,200 grant will train digital ‘community curators’ to enrich the collection and build connections by sharing their knowledge and skills with others to digitally map textile heritage assets across a network of heritage venues, archives and commercial organisations. This new network will create an open access resource for understanding textile heritage and provide a model for community engagement.  

·       Wikimedia UK work in partnership with the heritage sector to open up content and collections and develop new ways of engaging audiences. With a £119,100 grant the London-based organisation will help organisations and community groups develop the skills and tools needed to openly share their heritage online. Their project will focus on increasing the representation of marginalised people and subjects. 

Josie Fraser, Head of Digital Policy at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said,  
“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic we have all seen the essential role that digital skills have played in helping heritage organisations continue to work, communicate and connect. We are proud that our National Lottery funded Digital Skills for Heritage projects have provided the sector with practical support when it has been most needed.   

“The £1 million Culture Recovery Fund boost from DCMS recognises the value of digital skills and allows us to expand the initiative. These new grants focus on what organisations have told us they need most – digital innovation, enterprise and business skills to improve and rethink how the sector operates.” 

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture, said, 
“I have been really impressed by the innovative ways that sites and projects have already pivoted during the pandemic, but now more than ever it is essential that our heritage sector has the latest digital skills to bring our history to life online. This £1 million boost from the Culture Recovery Fund will ensure that staff and volunteers have the skills they need to keep caring for the past and conserving for the future through the sector’s reopening and recovery.” 

You can find out more here.


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