The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund supports the purchase of a wide range of material for the permanent collections of non-nationally funded organisations in England and Wales.

About the Purchase Grant Fund

The Fund is provided by Arts Council England Lottery funding and is managed by the V&A as part of its national work. The grants budget for 2021/22 is £730,000.

Demand is always very strong and funds are allocated to enable as many acquisitions as possible to be made. Each year the Fund considers about 100 applications and enables acquisitions of around £3 million to go ahead.

The Fund, run by the V&A since 1881, retains an interest in the organisations and objects it supports and collections they join, and ensures that the terms of the grant offer continue to be met.

Explore acquisitions supported by the Purchase Grant Fund on the V&A National interactive map:

Recent acquisitions

A recent grant enabled Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery in Brecon to buy the important Tragic Muse plate at auction. Painted by Thomas Baxter for Flight, Barr and Barr, it depicts the 18th century actress Sarah Siddons who was born in Brecon, in her role in The Tragic Muse. The plate will act as a focal point to celebrate the connection between Siddons and the town and to tell the story of theatre in Brecon. The museum also aims to use the plate to stimulate cross-sectoral collaborations, particularly with Theatre Brycheiniog in Brecon.

The Tragic Muse, plate for Flight, Barr and Barr, by Thomas Baxter after Joshua Reynolds depicting, Sarah Siddons as Melpomene, about 1814, Wales. ©Powys Museum Service

The Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby bought a portrait of Laura Knight by her husband Harold with a 50% grant. The work was probably painted whilst they were living and working at Staithes, shortly before they married. The gallery explores and celebrates the work of the Staithes Group of artists and this acquisition will not only raise the profile of the gallery and collection locally and with visitors to Whitby, but will also be a focal point next year’s exhibition celebrating the gallery's 25th anniversary.

Laura by Harold Knight, about 1896 – 1903, England. © Whitby, Pannett Art Gallery

Grants given

How to apply for a Purchase Grant

Eligibility

To receive support, organisations must first meet the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund's eligibility criteria. The minimum requirement is that museums are accredited under the Arts Council England scheme and record repositories be accredited under the Archive Service Accreditation Scheme, or working towards it.

Organisations are assessed when an application is first made and continue to be monitored.

What is remembered in the body is well remembered, sculpture by Rachel Kneebone, 2017. Touchstones, Rochdale © Rochdale Arts and Heritage

Material of any date relating to arts and culture is eligible for support: archaeological and ethnographical material; objects illustrating social and popular culture, decorative and fine art; rare books; documents and letters with good historical content, estate maps, writers' manuscripts and archival photographs. Items to be bought at auction are also eligible.

The Fund is unable to consider items to be commissioned from artists and makers, as these fall under the remit of the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants or or scientific or technological material

Finance

  • The budget for 2019 – 20 is £730,000
  • The minimum purchase price is £500 and the maximum £500,000
  • Grants may be up to 50% of the purchase price, though it is unlikely that any organisation will receive more than £50,000 in any one year
  • There is no limit to the number of applications which may be submitted
  • Local financial commitment is essential. Up to £10 of grant aid may be given for each £1 of locally raised funding. The balance may be sought from other grant giving bodies which operate nationally
Early medieval mount from Wembury. Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery © Plymouth City Council

Useful documents

The application process

You must discuss the potential purchase with Fund staff so that the likely demand on the Fund's limited resources can be monitored and tailored advice may be offered.

  • If the item is to be sold at auction, it is essential that you discuss potential applications with Fund staff immediately. Do not wait until the other details are confirmed.
  • We will send you a link to the online application portal after the initial discussion.
  • You may submit an application at any time and decisions are normally given within 4 weeks of receiving all necessary information; larger purchases are considered within 2 months.
  • Resources are limited and not all deserving cases will be successful. You must therefore argue the significance of the proposed purchase in the context of your permanent collections as strongly as possible.

Contact for all enquiries and requests for forms:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2536
Email: purchasegrantfund@vam.ac.uk