But fear not. It will be back!
The TownsWeb Archiving Digitisation Grant was established back in 2016 after Paul Sugden (Managing Director at TWA), Claire Adler (Heritage Fund Appointed Mentor and Independent Heritage Consultant), and John Chambers (Chief Executive of the Archives and Records Association) identified a real financial barrier to organisations seeking protection and accessibility for their archive collections.
Over the last five years the grant has run year-on-year, evolving and moving with the times in order to better meet industry demand and need. In no year has this need for industry awareness been in greater demand than in 2020. The world was thrown a curveball of epic proportions, sending the industry into unknown and uncertain territory. These were tough and daunting times, driving a number of significant changes in respect of our grant.
We made the decision to open our funding window early to account for the fact that lockdown would undoubtedly make identifying potential collections trickier. The hope being that this would allow more time for organisations to work on their applications. The award was distributed between three organisations rather than the usual two, to extend reach, and it was divided equally, in recognition of the adversity everyone was facing across the heritage sector.
After making a difference for more than 80 organisations over its five year period, and injecting well over £77,000 in grants and match funding, the TownsWeb Archiving Digitisation Grant is taking a break for 2021.
So why have we decided to postpone this year’s grant?
It is clear from the above that the TWA Digitisation Grant has long been heavily influenced by the heritage industry itself: what funding organisations have wanted and needed most and how this might look in terms of eligibility and specific awards. The last two years have given us a lot to think about so now feels like a good time to revisit what our grant should look like going forward. But fear not, it will go forward. We have every intention of relaunching our ‘new look’ grant in 2022 and can say, even in these early stages of consultation, there are some exciting changes ahead!
Paul Sugden explains a little bit more about the decision to postpone the TWA Digitisation Grant for this year:
What are the key dates and plans for next year?
We are still in the early stages, but we intend to stick as far as possible to the existing timeline for the 2022 grant. This means that the window is likely to open around June 2022 and close in August 2022, with announcements happening towards the end of the month.
As for awards, it’s a little too early to tell, but we can confirm that we will be matching the sum of £9000 awarded for 2019. Who will be eligible and what exactly will be covered is yet to be unveiled, and we will release further news later in the year through the newly launched designated Digitisation Grant area. This will act as the new home for our grant, containing everything you need to know, such as important key dates, details, hints, tips and, of course, our lucky grant winners. So, watch this space!
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And visit the new home of our Digitisation Grant to find out more about our next grant when it opens and explore the fascinating projects of some of our previous winners.
Have you seen our Funding Resource pack?
If you haven’t yet seen it, we recently released a Funding Resource Pack which has proved to be very popular! Recognising a lack of funding is one of the most significant barriers to digitisation, so we decided to create a set of focused resources with the aim of making the whole process that bit more transparent and, consequently, easier!
In the Funding Resource Pack industry experts help you to gain a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes, helping you to find the right tools, and offering you tried and tested advice that will support you in your own funding application. Suddenly securing funding isn’t something you have to face alone!
The pack starts with three downloadable resources that have been heavily informed and developed by industry experts, and you can sign up by simply completing the linked form. Then, sit back and benefit from the free focused resources that will continue to arrive in your inbox over the coming weeks.
With our funding increasing almost year on year, and with the ever-growing number of projects that we have helped, I could not be prouder of what we have achieved over the past five years. I know that, without our grant support, some of our history and legacy would sadly have been lost, so it’s a worthy initiative indeed.
Last year, during the height of the pandemic, we received a huge number of applications, and more than ever I was thankful to the other judges for taking the time to read, discuss and choose the winners with me. We have experienced unprecedented times and many of our friends in museums and galleries are still not fully open to the public. So this year, whilst many organisations are still busy re-evaluating their operations, we have decided to take some time to do the same.
It means that, for the first time since 2016, we will not be offering the TWA Digitisation Grant. Instead, we will be re-evaluating the grant and considering how best we can fulfil our commitment to the industry.
You can rest assured that next year we'll be back with an offering that will not only excite, but will provide more than it ever has before!