The Festival of Museums fund is now… OPEN!


Are you planning an event for the 2018 Festival of Museums? Marvellous! Well, read on, and find out how Accredited museums can apply to the Festival of Museums fund for support.

Taking part in Festival of Museums offers a chance to raise your museum’s profile as part of a national event. It also aims to develop skills and experience in event planning, budgeting and delivering events. As in 2017, MGS is encouraging Festival of Museums 2018 participants to aim to run events that cover at least some of their own costs, but preferably, break even. It would be even better if they bring in a little profit! The reason for this is that we want to support museums to generate more income to become financially sustainable. Festival of Museums is an opportunity to experiment and develop skills in income generation with the safety of a little back up from the Festival of Museums Fund.


In short…

Applicants to the fund will be asked to make sure that at least 25% of their event costs are covered by income generated through the event or from external funding sources (other than an MGS grant or their own organisational funds). They will not be able to request more than 50% of their event costs from the Festival of Museums Fund. The remaining 25% of the event costs can be covered by a financial contribution from the organisation. Any organisation that runs an Accredited Museum in Scotland can apply for between £300 and £1,500 (up to 50% of the total project costs).


What does this mean?

People tend to worry about the external funding part of this, but there’s really no need to. Generating income or securing income from other external sources may include cash sponsorship (local businesses may be willing to donate a sum of money towards the cost of your event for a little publicity at it); in-kind sponsorship (if you are using local suppliers for your event, they may be willing to offer their services at a discount or for free); or grants from other sources (there may be other grants that you can access to support events). It’s often not what you know, it’s who you know… do you have any suppliers that would be willing to help? Don’t be shy in asking for support, because if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get. Even companies with no connections to you, such as big employers in your area, may be very grateful for the chance to support their local communities and to be seen doing so.

An obvious source of external income is ticketing, but you’re not obliged to sell tickets if you don’t want to. However, as a general rule, the standard of events on offer during Festival of Museums is high. Participants attending free events in previous years have said that they would have been willing to pay for such an event, so we would encourage venues to consider charging, even a nominal sum. Venues often find that participants who have paid to attend an event are more committed to turning up. This is especially helpful if you need to make advanced payments on catering, entertainments etc, and need to have an idea of numbers.

Whilst you may not wish to charge for your full event, there may be elements for which you could. For example, you may want to charge for specific activities such as face-painting or participating in craft workshops, or you may want to have a small fee for refreshments on the day.


How to approach the application

As with anything involving money, your income generation projections must be realistic. Your application should show a feasible plan for generating or bringing in 25% from external sources. This means that, if you are planning to sell tickets, be realistic about the size of audience you’ll attract. You should have some idea of this from previous events that you have run. Applicants who received a grant from the fund in 2017 should make sure that their experience last year informs their projections for this year.

Once you have established a realistic projection of visitor numbers, we recommend that you base your projected income on selling no more than 75% of your target audience numbers. Remember that it is the museums themselves who are responsible for local marketing while MGS does the national campaign… You will need to ensure timely and effective local marketing to achieve your target so make sure your marketing team is involved before your application is submitted.

MGS is aware that even with realistic projects, a variety of factors may mean that you do not meet your income generation target. Things happen, we get it. Therefore, once your event has been delivered, as long as you have secured at least 15% of the full project costs then the amount you can claim from MGS will not be affected. However, if you bring in less than 15%, the amount you can claim from MGS will decrease. Remember to prepare contingency plans so that factors such as inclement weather do not result in a significant loss of income.


More info

The closing date for applications to the fund is 24 November 2017. However, please don’t wait until November to start thinking about your application! You will need to give yourself time to plan how you will generate or bring in other funding. We will assess your application based on how sustainable and enterprising your event is; how well you have defined and targeted your audience; and how well-planned your event is. You can contact the MGS Festival of Museums Team at any time, even to discuss just the beginnings of ideas. Just drop us an email at

To read more about the Festival of Museums fund, make sure you head over to our website. We look forward to hearing about all your awesome event ideas!

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