Government provides £7m boost to West Midlands attractions

Credit: PA images

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Museum of Cannock Chase among organisations to benefit from nearly £7 million cultural funding for the West Midlands.

The funding has been distributed through the government’s flagship Cultural Investment Fund.

Five organisations across the region have been given the cash to transform their public venues.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and libraries in Sandwell and Worcestershire are among the organisations in the West Midlands which will benefit from a boost of nearly £7 million in cultural funding.

The money will come from a national £48 million fund to support museums, galleries, libraries and other cultural organisations and venues across the country through the government’s Cultural Investment Fund.

It's hoped the cash boost will help to improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations, and power economic growth through culture.

Ironbridge in Shropshire Credit: PA

Reacting to the announcement, Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

 “The West Midlands is home to a great number of  much-loved cultural institutions and this funding will help more people to enjoy them, now and for many years to come.

 “We want everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of culture and the arts, whoever they are, and wherever they live. That’s why we’re so pleased to be making these awards today.”

 Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, co-CEOs of Birmingham Museums Trust, said:

 “We are passionate about caring for our collections and stories. Our buildings are as much a part of the experience as any object, and this fund will provide a much-welcomed opportunity to address some long standing concerns at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which will ultimately improve the visitor experience and safeguard the collection for generations to come.”

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery previously welcomed Dippy, The Natural History Museum's Diplodocus skeleton cast to its venue back in 2018 Credit: PA images

 Lee Bellingham, Cannock Chase Museum service manager, said:

 "Securing funding from the MEND fund will have a huge impact on the Museum of Cannock Chase and enable us to make significant and far-reaching improvements to our site, safeguarding it for the future and vastly improving the experience of visitors, staff and volunteers, as well as making sure that we can provide the best possible care for our collections. We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to do these vital works."

The Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) helps fund museum and local authority infrastructure projects and urgent maintenance works beyond their day-to-day budgets.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, which runs 10 museums and manages multiple historic sites within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Shropshire, has been given £1,064,348. The museum trust, which explores the area’s rich industrial heritage, will use the funds to pay for vital infrastructure and maintenance work at mock Victorian town Blists Hill, as well as additional repairs at its other venues.

The Museum of Cannock Chase, a community museum on a former colliery site which explores mining history, has been given £71,688 for maintenance works, accessibility equipment, flood protection and conservation work on its outdoor exhibits.

Elsewhere, a  Libraries Improvement Fund has also been established to transform library services in England by helping them upgrade their buildings and digital infrastructure so they can respond to the changing ways people use them.

Sandwell Library and Information Service has been awarded £495,000 from the Library Investment Fund, which will pay for maintenance works and improvements to the service’s digital offering to its users including new tablets, self-serve kiosks and apps.

Worcestershire County Council has also been given £182,000 to pay for improvements including investing in conferencing and live streaming facilities.

Details of the recipients of the remaining portion of the Cultural Investment Fund will be announced in due course.