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Festival of Museums Fund

Are you planning an event for the 2018 Festival of Museums? Accredited museums can apply to the Festival of Museums Fund for support.

About the fund

The fund supports museums to deliver Festival of Museum events. Taking part in Festival of Museums offers museums a chance to raise their own profile by taking part in a national event and to develop skills and experience in event planning, budgeting for and delivering sustainable and enterprising events.

Working towards sustainable and enterprising 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 focus is that we want to support museums to look at how they can diversify and generate more income in order to become financially resilient and sustainable. Festival of Museums is an opportunity to experiment and develop skills in income diversification and generation with the safety of a little back up from the Festival of Museums Fund.

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 funding sources other than an MGS grant or their own organisational funds. They will not be able to request any 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.

For example, if your event is going to cost £1,800, you would need to plan to generate or bring in from other sources at least £450. You could request £900 from MGS. And you could use £450 of your own funds.

Generating income or securing income from other external sources may include the following:

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. For example in previous years, some museums have received small donations of £100-£200 from local supermarkets and other businesses.

In-kind sponsorship

If you are using local suppliers for materials and other resources for your event, they may be willing to offer their services at a discount or for free.  For example in previous years, some museums have received raw materials for workshops free of charge from local suppliers.

Ticket sales

Generally, the standard of events on offer during Festival of Museums is high and participants attending free events in previous years have fed back that they would have been willing to pay for such an event. Venues often find that participants who have paid to attend an event are more committed to turning up. For example, many museums charge a small ticket price to participate in a workshop whilst other aspects of their Festival event may be free. Some events, such as night at the museum events with a variety of activities and entertainments justify more significant ticket costs.

Other sales related to the event

You may not wish to charge for tickets for people to attend your event but there may be elements within it for which there could be a small fee. 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 charge for refreshments on the day. For example, you may be running a free event but offer participants teas and coffees for a small cost

There will be organisations that already have an admission charge, a café and perhaps a gift shop. In such cases, MGS would accept any demonstrable increase in takings from these over the Festival weekend as contributing to the 25% generated or covered by other external funding sources.

Grants from other sources

There may be other grants that you can access to support events. For example, you may have funding from a local funder or from a national funding organisation whose criteria align with a Festival of Museums event.

You may identify other sources of funding or income generation to those listed above but applicants should be aware that the following cannot contribute towards the 25% generated or covered by other external funding sources.

  • In-kind contributions from your own organisation
  • Donations taken on the day of the event

Can I make a profit?

You may opt to exceed the obligatory 25% from generated income or other external sources and not include any financial contribution from your organisation. If your income generation or income from other sources exceeds 50% you will still be allowed to request a 50% award from MGS and therefore make a profit from your event.

However, when profit projections exceed 40% of your event costs, we would expect the percentage you request from MGS to decrease.

For example, for the event costing £1,800 you might identify a way to generate or bring in from other sources £1,200. You could still request an MGS grant of £900 and thereby make a profit of £300. If you were going to generate or bring in as much as £1,620 and request £900 from MGS you would then make a profit of £720 which is 40% of the event cost. Therefore, if you were going to generate or bring in more than £1,620 you would no longer be able to request £900, we would expect you to decrease your request to MGS so that your profit was not exceeding £720.

Will I be able to claim the full award if I do not succeed in generating or bringing in the full 25%?

Your income generation projections must be realistic and your application should show a feasible plan for generating or bringing in 25% from external sources. We will be checking this when we assess your application. This means that, if you are planning to sell tickets, you must first be realistic about the size of audience you are likely to attract. You should have some idea of this from previous events that you have run. 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. For example, if you are planning an event for 250 people, assume that you will sell no more than 187 tickets.

Applicants who received a grant from the fund in 2017 should make sure that their experience last year informs their projections for this year. For example, if you sold tickets to an event last year but only sold half the number you expected to sell, your numbers this year should reflect that, or, your application should make a convincing case that you will attract higher numbers this time due to market research and appropriate marketing. We will consider this in assessing your application.

MGS is aware that even with realistic projects, a variety of factors may mean that you do not meet your income generation target. 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.

For example, for a project costing £1,800, you will have committed to generating or bringing in at least £450. If in reality your event does cost £1,800 but you actually only generate or bring in £270, you can still claim your full MGS award as £270 is 15% of the full project costs. If however, you generate or bring in anything less than £270, 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.


Any organisation that runs an Accredited Museum in Scotland can apply.


Organisations can apply for between £300 and £1,500 (up to 50% of the total project costs). Applicants must secure at least a further 25% of their costs from either external sources or generate it through the event itself.

Further advice and support

If you have any questions at all about event ideas, income generation, marketing, events organisation how to complete your application or any of the information supplied here, please contact the MGS Festival of Museums Team anytime at We strongly recommend that all applicants contact MGS before submitting an application, even those who have applied to the fund before.

MGS will be running webinars on various aspects of Festival of Museums so please keep an eye on this space and on emails from the team for more information.

When to apply

The closing date for applications to the fund for Festival of Museums 2018 is 24 November 2017 but 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. 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

Applicants will have a chance to correct errors in their applications but must respond to any request to do so within two working days.

Museums who are not eligible for a grant but would like to discuss the development of an event are also welcome to contact MGS for advice.

How to apply

The first thing to do is contact MGS’s Festival of Museums team to chat through your event idea and application. We strongly recommend that all applicants contact MGS before submitting an application, even those who have applied to the fund before.

All applications need to be made via MGS Online.

Apply now via MGS online

Assessment criteria

We will assess your application against the following criteria:

How sustainable and enterprising your event is

Festival of Museums 2018 participants should be aiming to run events that cover at least some of their own costs, but preferably, break even. We want to support events that have diverse funding sources and which take an ambitious but realistic approach to generating income. Your application will score higher if your generated 25% is made up from a combination of sources (eg. sponsorship (cash or in-kind) and ticket sales).

How well you have defined and targeted your audience

We will be looking to see that you have;

  • Identified a target audience. Your event will be more successful if you pick a target audience than if you try to put on an event to appeal to everyone
  • Clear evidence that the event will appeal to your identified audience
  • Relevant marketing plans in place on how you will reach them. We recommend that you use the attached template marketing plan. Remember that it is your responsibility to market your event locally and to contribute to the MGS coordinated national campaign.

How well planned your event is

We will be looking for;

  • A clear project plan with realistic timescales and evidence that the appropriate staff will be involved in the project at relevant times eg that marketing staff are informed of the event with sufficient time to plan the appropriate activity into their workload
  • Realistic attendee projections. It is important that your attendee projects are realistic rather than over-ambitious. If you vastly overestimate your visitor numbers you will be likely to overestimate how much income you will generate and doing so will jeopardise the viability of your project and may result in a financial loss. Ensure that you base your projections on the evidence you have from previous or similar kinds of events or on research into the market for such an event.
  • Proportionate contingency planning eg. if you have an outdoor event planned, what will you do if it rains on the day? Or if you have performers booked, what will you do if they need to cancel?
  • Value for money – whilst different events will be appropriate for different sizes of audience, events should work out at a reasonable amount of money per head. For example, if your event costs £2,000 but you expect to have an audience of just 50 your event will cost £40 per head which is very expensive.

What we can fund

It is okay to stage events that appeal to your regular audience. It is also okay to stage events similar to ones you have successfully delivered before. Equally, we encourage you to use your Festival of Museums event as a chance to try out an event which, if successful, you can repeat in the future. It is just essential that you;

  • Define the audience you wish to attract
  • Develop an event that you have evidence will appeal to your defined audience
  • Provide details of your marketing activity which is targeted to attract your identified audience/s.

Aim to stage an event that will turn the participants into advocates for your museum. If you provide an enjoyable experience they are likely to tell others about it.

Stage an event that is open to the public to attend (with the understanding that you are aiming to attract a specific audience type).

What we can't fund

  • Costs that are not primarily associated with putting on an event on the Festival of Museums weekend. Your event may require you to purchase or develop resources that will have a life beyond the event itself and these things can be funded. However, we cannot fund costs that are not primarily about providing resources for the event
  • Acquisitions
  • Salaries for existing staff unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the work is additional to their normal hours or payment for volunteers
  • Project contingency
  • Events that do not take place during the Festival of Museums weekend (18, 19 & 20 May 2018)

Conditions of award

General Conditions

These conditions, along with any other terms and conditions set out within or referred to in your award letter, constitute our funding agreement with you. Therefore failure to meet these terms and conditions will be a breach of the agreement between you and us relating to your funding. In the event that you breach the agreement between you and us we may (notwithstanding our other rights and remedies) withdraw your funding or any offer of funding made to you, and/or require you to repay any funding already provided by us under this agreement.

Accepting and using your award

You must formally accept your award of funding by completing the steps set out in MGS Online, located at

You must not begin spending money on the event for which you have applied for funding until you have received confirmation of permission to start from MGS. You will be notified of permission to start via MGS-Online

Any information you give to us must be accurate and correct.

You must update us as soon as possible in the event that any of the information given to us changes.

In the event of a change to that information which is material, we reserve the right to withdraw funding or withhold further funding and/or require you to repay funding already paid over to you.

Any money spent by you is spent at your own risk. Our obligations are only to you, and we shall not be obliged to meet any costs or expenses due to any third parties.

We will not be liable to any third party in respect of the project. You indemnify and shall keep us indemnified against any third party claims or liabilities relating to the project. This indemnity shall not apply where such claim or liability arises due to our negligence or willful misconduct.

You must use the funding for the purposes set out in your application form, which we have approved.

You must not make any changes to the project for which you have applied for funding without our written permission.

If you apply funding to other purposes or change the project without our consent, we may withhold further funding, and/or require you to repay funding already paid over to you.

You must hold your event on the Festival of Museums weekend – 18-20 May 2018 and claim your funding within two months of the event – by 20 July 2018.

You must ensure that your event is delivered to the highest possible standard, following recognised good practice.

You must ensure that there is a contactable signature authority and primary contact assigned to the funded event for the duration of the grant period and update us immediately of any changes to these contacts.

You are responsible for ensuring that all policies, procedures, licenses, consents, permissions and insurances necessary or advisable in relation to the project, to meet legal or other requirements, are in place, and ensure the safe and effective delivery of the project at all times.

Participating in Festival of Museums

You must register your Festival of Museums event before 26 February 2018.

You must encourage visitors to your event to complete the MGS commissioned survey of their experience.

You must send MGS high-resolution digital images of the event in jpeg format within one month of your event. You must ensure that the people depicted in any images provided have given written approval for us to use the image in Festival of Museums / MGS marketing materials. An example consent form is available on request. Please provide captions and copyright details where required.

Claiming your award

We will pay the funding only to the organisation named as the recipient of the award letter.

It is your responsibility to ensure that we are supplied with the correct account details and reference to make payments for the award.

All funding will be paid as set out in our award letter. Retrospective funding will be paid on receipt of completed claim forms and the required proof of expenditure by you. Normally this shall consist of copies of receipted third party invoices.

We will not pay out for any costs incurred prior to the date on which we approved your funding award.

All funding must be claimed within two months of the Festival of Museums weekend – by 20 July 2018.

You must ensure claims are complete and accompanied by all of the supporting evidence we require.

We may request further information from you prior to making any funding payment.

If you do not spend as much on your event as indicated in your application the amount that you can claim from us will be reduced proportionately. Any funds claimed from us that are not spent must be returned to us. If we have paid you too much, you must refund the excess payment.

If you receive additional funding for your project from sources not stated in your application you must inform us.

Project monitoring

We will monitor your project progress. 

You must provide any other progress updates that we may request within timescales requested.

You must follow any recommendations that we make resulting from our monitoring of your project.

Promoting your award

You must promote your Festival of Museums event.

You must use the appropriate Festival of Museums logo on all of your promotional materials and the Festival key messages where possible. The logo and communications toolkit will be available for participants to download.

Confidentiality and data protection

You must maintain any information we provide to you, or to which you gain access, as confidential, and use it only for the purposes of performing the project.

If you provide any information to us you wish to remain confidential this must be expressly stated upon that information. We will use our reasonable endeavours to maintain it as confidential. However, you acknowledge that we are under various obligations and have various requirements as regarding disclosure of that information, including pursuant to freedom of information legislation.

We will adhere to the provisions of applicable data protection legislation. You are obliged to adhere to the provisions of applicable data protection legislation, including by taking reasonable technical and organisational security measures to prevent unauthorised access to or destruction of personal data held by you. If you breach or alleged to have breached applicable data protection legislation you must notify us as soon as possible. Any information provided by you to us will be processed by us to (i) administer the funding allocated to you, and (ii) in connection with the monitoring and evaluation of our business and funding activities. You must obtain and maintain all necessary consents to allow us to process any information supplied by you to us for these purposes.


Gillian Simison
Investment Manager
Telephone: 0131 550 4115

Sarah Burry-Hayes
Marketing Manager
Telephone: 0131 550 4133