MODULE 5: Financing ICT for Cultural Heritage

There are many ways to get to money...

...alas, not all will work for financing ICT for Cultural Heritage. And despite of the fact that money is a source of concern for ALL museums we talked to, hardly anyone wants to talk on how to get money. As a public institution with a public mission, it is evident that there must be public money flowing. And it is. But in times of crisis, always less...
There are some ways to lucrate additional money but it usually does not fall from the sky. Sponsors are rare species (again, times of crisis!) and sometimes their donations are a "Danaer gift": A Portuguese museum told us that, upon having received a donation from a private sponsor one year for a specific exhibition, the Ministry in charge reduced its subvention for the amount of that donation the next year (although there was no evidence that the donor will repeat his generosity). So, what can be done?

STEP 1: Develop a "benefit plan". Never heard of such a thing?No wonder, it is our invention to make the development of a business plan more palatable to non-business museums.
This was the result of the eCult Stakeholder event that concluded on the "money issue": "While necessary to run cultural heritage institutions, money turned out to be the real "beast" in the discussions. Different values between museums and commercial companies were pointed out: a sensitive but also sensible approach is necessary. As museums are most of the time underfunded, valorisation of collections and a ssets is a way to additional income: business models for museums! Museums need to apply business models as much as possible but the role of museums is different, they are not commercial enterprises." Therefore, it is necssary to define income - expenses on a yearly basis and then look for funding for extraordinary expenses.

„Making money is art“- Andy Warhol

While not all will agree with Warhol, it is indeed a skilful job to increase income of cultural heritage institutions such as museums. In principle, there are four potential sources: The museum itself (e.g. through entrance tickets, (digital) assets management etc.); private sponsors; public funding; and, recently, crowd funding (which is a sub-part of private funding, only with micro contributions). Museum's own sources, as well as private sponsors depend on the collection, size, location, events etc. so that a general guideline is not possible to give. With regard to crowdfunding, we included it in out Tech Module 4.7 Corwdsourcing. Here, we will give some indication as to public funding at European Level (in particular, Horizon 2020, and more specifically, Digital Culture, and Creative Europe) as well as national funding through European Structure and Investment Funds.

STEP 2: Which public funding makes sense for my museum and for my goals?
It is worthwhile to quote a deliberation of The Guardian Culture Professionals Network (an endless source of interesting articles) :
"How can small institutions hope to deliver on the promise of these new developments without breaking the bank? Not by betting a year’s digital budget on a single high-profile project but by experimenting and co-opting users into the design process. The Collaborative Arts Triple Helix (CATH) project, for example, brings together academics, technology firms and small cultural organisations to fund the creation of innovative digital prototypes to tackle a variety of issues, from visitor flow to 3D printing replicas of archaeological objects."  The Guardian gives as an example a national UK project, but it can be applied to all EU projects. Indeed, the most sucessful included museums such as the Acropolis museum (CHESS) or the Alhambra (TAGCLOUD) that are the first to benefit from the developed tools.
a) Funding within collaborative projects: These are "classical" research and innovation projects. Calls are open every year, with a bi-annual workping programme. This is also a political concern, as can be read in the Communication "Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage in Europe".  In Horizon 2020, focus is on cultural and creative industries. In the 2014/15 ICT Work Programme  (as part of LEIT), the 2015 focus lies on the support of creative industries, social media and convergence (hence, no focus on CH institutions). But Societal Challenges, "Europe in a changing world–inclusive, innovative and reflective Societies" tackle in "Reflective 6" cultural heritage for Social Societies and Humanities research. As this is currently the only direct call for CH for 2015, be aware that there will be a lot of competition! Cross-over opportunities (e.g. with elearning, etourism, or other technologies such as the Internet of Things (sensors) might be an alternative.
b) Funding within Creative Europe projects: These foster transnational cooperation, European networks or European platforms, apart from the special programme line for audiovisual art. Details can be found in the Creative Europe - Culture Sub-Programme.

c) Funding through European Structural and Investment Funds: Now, these is a different type of funding. While the money is allocated by the European Commission, it is allocated nationally or regionally according to national and regional rules and priorities. The European Regional Development Fund is the most interesting in the area of cultural heritage. Why? Because innovation and research, as well as the digital agenda is among its priorities. For the period of 2014-2020, Member States (and/or regions) had to identify their innovative strength in so-called "smart specialisation strategies". On the RIS3 map, you can for example, enter under EU priorities "Cultural and creative industries" from the drop-down menu, you find immediately in the map the Members State/Region that has this as a priority. This is a quick screening if ESIF money for culture is potentially available, and gives also an indication with which regions one can collaborate. You can also find out prioritised and linked subcategories, like tourism, traditional manufacturing industries, etc.
d) Combined funding: Though more complex, it should be mentioned that since Horizon2020, ESIF and H2020 funds can be combined in the same project, albeit for different activities. An example would be that you are a partner in a H2020 innovation project, and that your region would support a pilot that falls into its priorities and would benefit the region. For more details, have a look at the Synergy Guidelines.

The author, Margaretha Mazura, also supported DG REGIO in drafting the Synergy Guidelines between ESIF and Horizon 2020 and other programmes in order to increase impact through combined funding opportunities.
Image sources at the top of the page (from left to right): Detail from Gorleston Psalter-Pinterest; Money Changers, Follower of Marinus can Reymerwaele, Google Art Project; Walt Disney figure from Padaia Blog; Medieval Merchants from Changes in Medieval Commerce and Production, G. Klimt, Danae