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Cornwall Museums Partnership

Funding Success – Art Fund support’s the Rural Diversity Network

Thanks to funding from Art Fund, Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is excited to announce  a collaborative project with Black Voices Cornwall (BVC) and the Black British Museum (BBM), collecting the stories and experiences of Black people living in Cornwall.

The award of a £15,000 Professional Network Grant from Art Fund towards the Rural Diversity Network means CMP can expand its focus on diversity and inclusion, recently recognised as Outstanding, by Arts Council England, through its Creative Case for Diversity rating.

The project will document the experiences of Black people in Cornwall informing the work of local and national museums, ensuring representation and informing anti-racist practice.

“Education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to confront racism. Black Voices Cornwall absolutely recognise the value of history and the importance of teaching Black British History sensitively, appropriately and correctly, particularly here in Cornwall. It is important to us that people are re-educated about the lasting legacies throughout Black History.

We are excited and humbled to be working alongside Sandra Shakespeare on the Black British Museum Project which will be an absolute asset to both the residents and visitors of Cornwall. It is incredibly encouraging to see and hear funders also recognise the importance of this work, and this recognition shows not only support and belief in the project but also demonstrates some vital steps towards Cornwall becoming an Actively Anti-Racist County.” (BVC)

This project will also allow CMP to create resources to make decolonisation work more accessible to rural museums creating a better understanding of what decolonisation work means, what it looks like for our rural museums and most importantly, where to start.

“This is an opportunity to learn about the stories of diverse rural communities so we can better understand that their contributions are shaping our history. We are thrilled to be a part of this collaboration.“ Sandra Shakespeare (BBM)

Through the growth of the Rural Diversity Network, the aim will be to provide peer-to-peer learning opportunities for rural museums across the country to discuss decolonisation, and to raise the profile of decolonisation work in rural museums with national and international stakeholders.


Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is a charity which exists to create positive social change with museums. In 2017 CMP launched the Rural Diversity Network, a network designed to promote diversity and inclusion in rural regions, provide a platform for artists and activists to share good practice and give voice to those who are seldom heard. Cultural policy around diversity has often been centered on the visible diversity of big cities. The Rural Diversity Network aims to inform national policy by exploring the diversity of rural regions and help cultural organisations to be more open and connected to the all people they exist to serve, not just a select few.

In October 2020 CMP received an Outstanding Rating for the Creative Case for Diversity from Arts Council England. The Creative Case for Diversity is the national standard for equality and diversity and challenges cultural organisations to involve a wide range of people, from every background, in the work they do.

This rating was primarily assessed on the activities being delivered by CMP’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) programme, in collaboration with seven museums across Cornwall (Wheal Martyn, Falmouth Art Gallery, Penlee House, Royal Cornwall Museum, PK Porthcurno, Bodmin Keep and the Museum of Cornish Life) where inclusive and accessible practice has already made an impact in enriching the cultural and museum sectors in Cornwall. Including:

  1. Using Cornwall’s diverse museum collections to inspire and explore diversity working with sector experts (including members of Museum Detox on diversifying practice, Dan Vo on ‘Queering the museum’, the Museum of Homelessness regarding rural diversity and The Happy Museum on programming with shared compassionate values) to develop skills in museum staff and volunteers.
  2. CMP has been spearheading work on an LGBTQIA+ trail encompassing the collections of museums and galleries across Cornwall, led by LGBTQIA+ museum staff. CMP supported Cornwall Pride in 2019, taking examples of Cornish collections with ‘queer histories’, supporting and celebrating the diverse staff and volunteers who contribute to our organisations. CMP has committed to support Cornwall Pride and the attendance of local museums.
  3. CMP and the NPO consortium museums have continued to work with Carefree, a local charity which supports care leavers and children in care. With the support of Cornwall Council, we have been able to expand the involvement of young people, creating a dedicated paid apprenticeship post to work between Carefree and the museum partners.
  4. Pool School Gallery, based in nearby Pool Academy, has become a close partner of CMP. The Engagement Lead sits on the Board and opportunities to support their ground-breaking approach of employing contemporary artists and using the Cornwall Schools Art Collection to engage young people, continue to be developed; for example, with organisations such as WILD Young Parents. CMP has convened work with WILD Young Parents (a Cornish charity which supports young parents and their children) with several museum/gallery partners. Working with artists and groups of young Mums, CMP was able to develop a detailed programme of interactive creative opportunities
  5. Fun Palaces continues to be a strategic partner for CMP. As half of the ambassadorial role for Cornwall, CMP’s Engagement Lead supports and develops a variety of organisations, including museums, creative partnerships and community-based arts organisations; to celebrate cultural democracy in creating and leading Fun Palaces across the Duchy.
  6. As a result of the wider NPO focus of ASD-friendly programming, Royal Cornwall Museum was able to host an exhibition of artwork by users of Spectrum ASD, Cornwall’s leading ASD-support service as part of the annual national Autism-awareness campaign. Coupled with RCM’s commitment to embedding ASD-inclusive work, including updated online resources and dedicated relaxed openings, led to a National Autistic Society Autism Friendly award.


About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to Covid-19 Art Fund has made £2 million in adapted funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 159,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. In a unique edition of the prize for 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums are facing by selecting five winners and increasing the prize money to £200,000. The winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne


About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million  Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Funds.

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