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Diversity Matters

Our Diversity Matters programme will encourage museums to embrace Arts Council England's Inclusivity and Relevance Investment Principle. This is about ensuring the creative and cultural sector better reflects and serves all communities across England. It is a commitment to achieving greater fairness, access and opportunity.

This principle builds on the Creative Case for Diversity to encompass programming, talent development, workforce, leadership and governance. It means identifying who is under-represented and which communities are under-served and taking action to address this. The aim is to collectively create a cultural sector that is relevant to more people and better placed to realise its creative ambitions, drawing on talent from all our communities.

In addition to the Diversity Matters grant programme, we now run a discrete 'Developing an Inclusive Museum' seven-part training series, as part of our Skills Plus training programme. These sessions showcase best practice in embedding board and workforce diversity, how to run programmes to target specific under-represented audiences, and how to deliver the final transformational change of a more diverse core visitor base regularly engaging with displays and collections.

In all 4 museums per year between 2018 and 2022 will be supported to:

  • Enable non-national museums to embrace and embed diversity practices
  • Increase engagement with museum collections and exhibitions from visitors of all backgrounds
  • Increase participation in public programmes and activities from visitors of all backgrounds
  • Increase the diversity of the museum sector’s workforce
  • Increase the diversity of the museum sector’s board of trustees.

The Diversity Matters Programme is open to the following London museums:

  • Non-national non-NPO accredited museums
  • Non-national non-NPO museums who are officially working towards accreditation
If you have any questions about the Diversity Matters Programme please do contact Museum Development: [email protected]

Year Four April 2021 - March 2022 Programme

We are pleased to announce that MD London’s (MDL) Diversity Matters Programme will run again in 2021-2022 and will include both a grants and training element.

This year our grants programme will once again focus on enabling museums to work with ethnic minority artists/groups. The grants will be used to support projects that enable museums to:

  • Work with artists and/or groups from ethnic minority communities to co-curate, co-produce and co-create a public exhibition
  • Provide a public platform (through an exhibition) that gives ethnic minority artist(s)/group(s) space to review, reflect and respond to museum collections either by: enhancing existing collections through a re-visiting collections project, whereby the artist(s)/group(s) responds and reflects on the museum’s current themes and objects; or enabling a contemporary collecting project, which gathers oral testimonies, objects etc. from the artist(s)/group(s) so the museum’s collections are up to date and relevant.

Alongside the grant programme, MDL will also run a training series in the autumn to support London’s non-national museums to embrace and embed diversity practices. As well as supporting museums to understand ways to increase engagement from people from all backgrounds and protected characteristic groups, it will also support museums to develop meaningful and realistic equality action points for plans going forward. More information on the training series will be available over the coming weeks.

Diversity Matters Grant Programme – Applications are now open

Closing date for applications: 5.00pm on Monday 6 September 2021.

The Museum Development London (MDL)’s Diversity Matters Programme grants will build on the national diversity and Creative Case for Diversity agenda. Museums are now welcome to apply to the Diversity Matters Programme grants. We have allocated £9,000 to support 3 London non-national museums to:

  • Enable non-national museums to embrace and embed diversity practices
  • Increase engagement with museum collections and exhibitions from visitors of all backgrounds
  • Increase participation in public programmes and activities from visitors of all backgrounds.

In Year Four MDL the grants programme will focus on museums working with ethnic minority artists/groups to diversify its exhibition programme through a contemporary collecting or revisiting collections project. The project and resulting exhibition should showcase the museum’s work with a ethnic minority artist/group and enable the museum to be more representative of its local community. You can find more information and tips on developing a contemporary collecting or revisiting collections project here (PDF 140kb, opens in a new tab). Alternatively, please speak to Rachael Crofts, Museum Development Audiences – Tel: 07540 122540 / Email: [email protected].

For museums that are unsuccessful in gaining these grants, MDL will be offering 1:1 meetings to signpost alternative sources of funding and provide tips, mentoring and feedback for museums writing bids to support this diversity work.

Is the Diversity Matters Programme grant for you? Can you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:

  • Does your museum want to create a more diverse collection and exhibition programme for its visitors of all backgrounds?
  • Does your museum want to consult and work with (not for or on behalf of) diverse and under-represented groups to develop your collections and exhibitions?
  • Would your museum like to co-curate, co-produce and co-create an exhibition with ethnic minority artist(s)/group(s)?
  • Would your museum like further funding to work with ethnic minority artist(s)/group(s) to support any of the following work to: Diversify your collections through a revisiting collections initiative/project?; Create a co-curated exhibition?; Diversify your collections through a contemporary collecting programme initiative/project?; Create a co-curated exhibition?

If so, MDL would welcome an application and encourage your museum to apply to our Diversity Matters Programme grant.

For more information on eligibility as well as the type of projects the grants programme will support, please download the Guidance for Applications (PDF 200kb, opens in a new tab). If you would like to apply, please complete and return an Application Form (Word 64kb, opens in a new tab) to [email protected] no later than 5.00pm on Monday 6 September 2021. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be accepted.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your museum’s proposed project or eligibility for the programme, please contact: Rachael Crofts, Museum Development Officer Audiences – Tel: 07540 122540 / Email: [email protected].

The Year Four projects will be completed by March 2022, when Museum Development London will share the projects funded and lessons learnt.

Year Three April 2020 - March 2021 Programme

In July 2020 we launched our Year Three Diversity Matters grants programme. Given recent global events and the advent of the Black Lives Matters movement, the grants focused on enabling museums to work with ethnic minority artists/groups.

Following an assessment panel, MDL decided to fund the following museums:

  • Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey
  • Headstone Manor and Museum, Harrow
  • Museum of Croydon, Croydon

All Year Three projects were completed by March 2021. You can find a summary of the projects that we funded between April 2020 – March 2021 here (PDF 1.28MB, opens in a new tab). More detailed case studies of the projects can be found in the last section of the page.

Alongside the grant programme, we also ran a 6-part Developing an Inclusive Museum training series this winter to support London’s non-national museums to embrace and embed diversity practices across their whole organisations.

Year Two April 2019 – March 2020 Programme

In Year Two MDL ran both a briefing session about developing inclusive programmes and a grants programme. Following an assessment panel, MDL decided to fund the following museums:

  • Brent Museum and Archive, Brent
  • Musical Museum, Hounslow
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Westminster
  • The Museum of the Order of St John, Islington

All Year Two projects were completed between February and March 2020. You can find a summary of the projects that we funded between April 2019 – March 2020 here (PDF 1.28MB, opens in a new tab). More detailed case studies of the projects can be found in the last section of the page.

Year One April 2018 – March 2019 Programme

In June 2018 Museum Development London ran its first annual Diversity Matters Briefing Session and launched its first grant programme. Following an assessment panel, MDL decided to fund the following museums:

  • Brent Museum & Archive, Brent
  • Kingston Museum, Kingston
  • Royal College of Music Museum, Kensington and Chelsea
  • The View, Epping Forest, Waltham Forest

All Year One projects were completed between February and March 2019. You can find a summary of the projects that we funded between April 2018 – March 2019 here (PDF 1.19mb, opens in a new tab). More detailed case studies of the projects can be found in the last section of the page.

Diversity Matters Case Studies

The following case studies showcase the great diversity practice going on in London. Together they start to create a picture of how London’s non-national museums respond and support the national diversity agenda, as well as increase opportunities for people from protected characteristic groups to engage with their collections and programmes.

It is hoped that by reading these case studies other non-national museums will be inspired to develop their diversity practice within their museum. Each case study provides the following information: the project’s original aims; who the museum worked with; what the project entailed; what the project achieved; the impact of the project; lessons learnt; and tips for other museums undertaking their work.

Case Studies

If your museum is undertaking great diversity practice, please help London Museum Development to celebrate and share it with other museums.

Submitting a Case Study

Museum Development London continues to look for museums who are willing to share their experience of developing responsive programmes, exhibitions, collections, audience initiatives, workforce and trustee boards to showcase how their organisation has become more diverse and more representative of their respective local community.

We know that there is excellent work happening in our region, so help Museum Development London to shout about it! It’s a great way to advocate for your fantastic work (both internally and externally) and help inspire others to become more diverse too.

You can download the Case Study Form here (PDF 161kb, opens in new tab). This is a rolling deadline, so please email your completed form along with any pictures at any time, to: [email protected]. Please note it will take Museum Development London roughly six weeks to get your case study up on the website.