Wessex Museums Secure Arts Council Funding

The Wessex Museums Partnership was delighted to learn on 27 June that they were successful in their application to become one of the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations. The four partner museums, namely: Poole Museums, Dorset County Museum, Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum, will receive £1.3m over four years from 2018 to support a range of innovative projects delivered by the partnership to enhance their collections and programming, including major exhibitions, digital collections initiatives and community learning and outreach programmes.
The announcement of the Arts Council funding award for the partnership comes just a few months after the museums successfully formed a charity, the Wessex Museums Trust, which aims to share the story of Wiltshire and Dorset in new and exciting ways, inspiring more people to enjoy the outstanding heritage of the region. Chairperson for the Wessex Museums Trust, Clare Conybeare, said of the funding news:
‘The Wessex Museum Trust is delighted that its pioneering partnership has been awarded National Portfolio status by the Arts Council. The four partner museums hold collections of international importance and this funding will allow us to continue to work together to achieve excellence in collections care and reach even more people with the story of our shared heritage.’
The Wessex Museums Trust will now begin a period of preparation for National Portfolio status from April 2018, and continue to deliver existing partnership work, including the successful Spotlight Loans programme, which sees objects from each museum tour across the partnership venues over the course 2017/2018.
Further Information about the Wessex Museums Partnership:
The Wessex Museums Partnership is a thriving partnership of four leading museums across the counties of Dorset and Wiltshire:
Borough of Poole Museum Service
Dorset County Museum (Dorchester)
The Salisbury Museum
Wiltshire Museum (Devizes)
The ambition of the Wessex Museums Partnership is to inspire more people to explore and enjoy the outstanding art and heritage of the region and to understand its significance to their lives. The partnership will share the amazing story of the region in new and exciting ways and make a contribution to the cultural, social and tourism economies of Dorset and Wiltshire.
By working together in these challenging times, the Partnership believes that it will be better equipped to achieve its ambitions. Becoming resilient organisations will be key to this, through the development of museum staff and governance, diversifying income and by making the most of common opportunities to improve the museums’ offer and impact with audiences.
The Wessex Museums Partnership was awarded £473k from the ACE Museum Resilience Fund in 2015. 
The partnership successfully bid to become one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations from 2018, with a funding award of £1.278m. The funding award is for the period 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2022.
Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming the Borough of Poole Museum Service [Wessex Museums Partnership] into the National Portfolio as part of the Arts Council’s integration of Museums and Libraries. The four partner museums possess world class archaeological and social history collections, telling the story of Dorset and Wiltshire. The consortium are an exemplar of how local museums can work together and we are excited by their plans to develop shared resources which will enhance the breadth, scope and scale of future exhibitions…”
The partnership formed the Wessex Museums Trust, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, in January 2017. The Trust is chaired by Clare Conybeare and the current Trustees are the Directors/Managers of each of the four partner museums.
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Kristina Broughton, Project Manager, Wessex Museums Partnership