Cumbria Museum Consortium Awarded Over £1 Million As Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation

A funding boost for three of Cumbria’s top Museums has been announced.

Arts Council England announced that the Cumbria Museum Consortium (CMC) has been successful in its bid to continue as a National Portfolio Organisation, securing funding for the next three years.

Kate Parry, Head of Partnership for CMC, commented: “This funding success shows the power of collaboration. It means our museums can continue providing opportunities to enjoy culture for Cumbrians and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, over the next three years.”

The group has been awarded a grant of £1,187,313 per year, shared between the three organisations, starting, from April 2023.

CMC is a partnership between three of the county’s leading heritage organisations, Tullie House Museum Trust (Tullie House), The Wordsworth Trust (Wordsworth Grasmere) and Lakeland Arts (Abbot Hall and Lakeland Museum, Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts house, Windermere Jetty Museum).

Tullie House Museum Trust in Carlisle is the Consortium’s lead partner with Director Andrew Mackay commenting: “Today’s announcement is a massive statement of confidence from Arts Council England in the work that Tullie House Museum and the wider Cumbria Museum Consortium have been doing over the past four years.

“Together Lakeland Arts, Wordsworth Grasmere and Tullie deliver exceptional and high-quality artistic programmes across the county. Their collective work makes a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of our communities in addition to delivering economic growth to the visitor economy.”

Lakeland Arts operates Abbot Hall and Lakeland Museum in Kendal as well as Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts house and Windermere Jetty Museum in Bowness-on-Windermere.

Chief Executive Rhian Harris commented: “Lakeland Arts is absolutely delighted with this funding news and excited to be working collaboratively as Cumbria Museum Consortium to connect more people with creative experiences.

“Arts Council support will enable Lakeland Arts to inspire creativity through an ambitious participation programme of co-curation and artist commissions. Our work will focus on sharing stories that explore connections to the landscape, heritage and identity, and on nurturing the wider cultural landscape through commissioning new art.”

Wordsworth Grasmere operates Dove Cottage, home of the poet William Wordsworth, a museum and gardens.

Director Michael McGregor commented: “This is wonderful news and a massive boost for Cumbria. 200 years ago William Wordsworth wrote that ‘We have all of us one human heart’.

“He highlighted the importance of empathy for other people, living in harmony with nature and nurturing the creative imagination.

“These values are more relevant than ever. With Arts Council funding we will continue to ensure that anyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to find creative inspiration in Wordsworth’s legacy.”

The CMC was formed in 2012 with the shared aims of enhancing the lives of Cumbrian people and supporting the wider cultural sector in Cumbria.

The Consortium has received ongoing funding from Arts Council England since it was set up.

Together the museums house outstanding, nationally significant collections in archaeology, history, literature, fine and decorative art, natural history and maritime.

The Consortium works locally in all parts of Cumbria and internationally with a diverse range of people from schoolchildren to adults with disabilities, university students and refugees. 

Looking ahead and with Arts Council England funding, CMC will:

• Give schoolchildren across Cumbria chances to explore their own heritage and creativity on visits to our museums

• Enable families to be creative together through affordable museum trails, activities and workshops

• Provide opportunities for young people to develop their skills and careers in arts and culture

• Welcome university students from across the world to study our museum collections

• Give people access to culture wherever they live byworking with local groups to create exhibitions and supporting festivals 

• Enhance health and wellbeing among under-represented adults, such as refugees and disabled people through activities in community settings

• Care for our unique buildings and collections so that they are accessible to as many people as possible in the future

• Commission and support artists and creatives to respond to our museums and collections

• Create inspiring volunteer opportunities for people from all walks of life 

• Support our staff in developing as skilled museum professionals 

• Lead the development of museums across Cumbria, supporting skills development of staff