Over £500,000 has been awarded to University-run museumsdreamstime.com

The government has given funding to more than 30 cultural institutions in Cambridge to ensure they remain open despite lockdown restrictions.

The institutions, which include the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the Museum of Cambridge and the Cambridge Arts Theatre, have received a total of more than £3 million in support.

The Cambridge Arts Theatre’s funding package of £459,907 comes after the theatre received criticism for staff redundancies whilst the chief executive received a six-figure salary.

Meanwhile, the Cambridge Junction venue has received nearly £250,000: the venue’s artistic director, Matt Burman, expressed his excitement to “restart our live programmes and support the making of new projects, as we emerge from lockdown restrictions over the coming months.”

However, smaller venues were also supported, including the Flying Pig pub, a comedy and music venue for smaller artists, and arts organisation Collusion, which produces public artwork about technology in Cambridge.

Cambridge City Council received £250,275 for its community services, as well as cultural events it usually hosts such as the Cambridge Folk Festival.

The University, which runs eight museums and cultural sites, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Sedgwick Museum and the Zoology Museum, received the most funding of any institution in Cambridge, with £589,376 from the government plan going towards University-run museums and galleries. The botanic garden, also run by the University, received £85,100.

Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, said that the funding was “fantastic news for the Fitzwilliam Museum [...] and indeed our cultural partners across the city. We are busy preparing to reopen when it is safe to do so but the cultural recovery fund will enable and resource us to do that with flair and imagination.”

During lockdown, the Fitzwilliam Museum has provided remote learning and activities, with Miranda Stearn, Head of Learning at the museum, emphasising that “continuing to serve the communities we are part of has been a priority throughout lockdown”.

Additionally, the museum has used lockdown as an opportunity to ensure its collections are preserved ready for the return of visitors. Although staff numbers have been kept to a minimum during the museum’s closure, the museum’s Head of Conservation Julie Dawson stated that “conservators and technicians go into the building once a week to check on the condition of the collections”.


Mountain View

Cambridge’s museums in lockdown

Lockdown has made some aspects of conserving the museum easier, with dusting and cleaning no longer becoming an integral part of preserving the museum’s collections, but Dawson stated that the museum would soon be “ready for the return of our visitors”.

The government’s Cultural Recovery Fund is a national coronavirus recovery project offering over £400 million to the UK’s cultural institutions to help the culture and heritage sector reopen after lockdown. More than 2700 institutions are set to benefit from this project, with other recipients across the country including Glastonbury Festival and the London Transport Museum.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP said that the fund aimed to “help [...] our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead”.

Under the current lockdown rules, museums are set to open no earlier than 17 May, whilst commercial galleries will begin to open on 12 April.