UWE-backed centre awarded grant to strengthen ties between universities and museums

Issue date: 04 August 2016


Arnolfini

A centre established as a partnership between Bristol's two universities has received funding to strengthen links between museums and the higher education sector nationwide.

The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), hosted by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, has been awarded £278,000 by Arts Council England.

The windfall will fund an 18-month project which will see staff at small and medium sized museums work closely with university researchers to develop ideas for new collaborations.

The project has mutual benefit at its heart, with museums receiving support from academics and universities gaining new ways to share their research.

The NCCPE, based at the Arnolfini arts centre in Bristol, was formed in 2008 to help inspire and support UK universities to engage with the public.

Sophie Duncan, NCCPE's Deputy Director, said: “This is wonderful news. We've just completed a pilot project that showed just how much potential there is. Museums – especially smaller ones – are under enormous pressure at the moment, with decreasing budgets but undiminished commitment to finding new ways to engage and involve the public.

“Universities have left behind long ago the 'ivory tower' image and want to find better ways to share their research and involve the public in their work. Effective museum-university partnerships are a brilliant way to bring the best of both worlds together to delight the public.”

The project will be carried out by the Museum-University Partnership Initiative, a collaboration between the NCCPE, the London-based Share Academy and cultural heritage consultancy Paddy McNulty Associates.

Paddy McNulty, who has worked with Share Academy since 2012, said: “This is great news. The funding from the Museum Resilience Fund will help build museums confidence to explore how they can work in partnership with the higher education sector. There are great opportunities for knowledge transfer and improved resilience that this project can help unlock, and we are particularly keen on getting small to medium museums involved. We look forward to building on the work of Share Academy and working closely with the NCCPE, using their skills, knowledge, and expertise of higher education for the benefit of the whole museums sector, and their university partners.”

The project will provide opportunities for English museums to develop effective relationships with universities to enhance their business leadership, diversify audiences, enhance collections knowledge, improve visitor experience, develop staff and volunteer skills, access expertise and technology, and explore risk taking in a safe environment.

The grant was awarded from a £12.2 million pot of Museums Resilience Funding aimed at helping museums become more sustainable businesses.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “At a challenging time for funding in the sector, it is vital that museums look at ways of improving their resilience and making the most of every opportunity. This investment from our Museums Resilience Fund will help to create a model in which museum university partnerships can flourish, contributing to a more resilient and sustainable future. The NCCPE is leading the work in this area and we're delighted that they will be sharing their expertise with museums across the country.”

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