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Ironbridge Gorge Museum wins share of £20m Arts Council England Major Grants funding (26th January 2012)

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is celebrating the news that it has secured a share of a £20 million per annum Major Grants funding stream from Arts Council England, to cover the period 2012-15.

It was announced by Arts Council England that the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust was one of 16 leading museums and museum consortia across England that have been awarded a share of a £20 million grant for the next three years as part of its Renaissance programme for leading regional museums across England.

This news is a significant boost in the delivery of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s charitable vision, helping the Museum achieve excellence through the development of their award-winning work in the World Heritage Site, build new cultural partnerships and by increasing the number of visitors to the ten Ironbridge museums.

The complex of ten diverse museums is located within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, regarded internationally as the Birthplace of Industry. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is recognised as one of the most entrepreneurial museums in the UK and a centre of learning.

With such a reputation for excellence, the Museum applied to Arts Council England for funding to support their work in the development and use of their Designated National Collections, strengthen their financial resilience, build new cultural partnerships and provide a leadership and support role to the wider museums’ sector with a focus on Governance, Volunteering and Entrepreneurialism.

Much of the Museum’s work over the last four decades has been seen as a blue print for other museums to emulate, including its multi award-winning volunteering programme. The Trust currently has over 330 active volunteers who support the Museum in many different ways from guiding visitors around the sites to working behind the scenes in the Library & Archive.

David Wright, MP for Telford said:  “This major award by Arts Council England is excellent news for Telford & Wrekin.  It will provide a major boost to the local visitor economy and businesses in the World Heritage Site and it will help the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust deliver outstanding new services for our communities”.

Katie Foster, Chair of Shropshire & Telford Tourism Strategy Board and former Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said:  “This is wonderful news - and what we have all been hoping for. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is a major contributor to the cultural life and economic impact of the West Midlands and the UK as well as internationally acknowledged as a leader in its field. Anyone who has visited will never fail to have been impressed by its wide embrace and engaging way of telling the story of the epic events which made this area the Birthplace of Industry and which created the modern world. This funding will make sure the innovation for which the Museum is known worldwide will continue.”

Barrie Williams, Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said: “We are delighted with the news of the Arts Council’s fantastic support, which I know will be a great encouragement to the Trustees, staff and volunteers in the delivery of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s charitable vision”. 

Arts Council England is confident that the various funding streams of its Renaissance programme will work together to provide a comprehensive package of support, driving excellence and delivering long term change in museums in England, with the aim of attracting more visitors to museums and enabling people to experience them in new and innovative ways.

For more information about the Ironbridge Gorge Museums visit www.ironbridge.org.uk.