Struggle to match grant

April 24, 1998

The National Lottery has made awards worth Pounds 76 million to higher education projects. The THES lists winners to date, examines how grants have been won and looks at the overseas experience

The Manchester Museum's ambitious expansion plan could not have even been dreamed about without a Pounds 12 million Heritage Lottery Fund award in February. But the race is by no means over. The scheme hangs on an additional Pounds 2 million European grant that director Tristram Besterman hopes will come his way in July.

Mr Besterman has been working frantically to raise matching funds for his scheme, which Manchester University has backed with Pounds 2 million. The Wellcome Trust has also contributed significant funds, but without the European Regional Development Fund's backing, there will be an enormous hole in the finances.

In fact, the government office in the North-west has already allocated the European money to the War Museum in the North, a project that had earlier been refused lottery money. Mr Besterman said that by July the money will probably be reallocated to him because the war museum is running out of time to raise matching funds.

"The decision to award the money to the war museum when it was a concept with no funding was strange and questionable," Mr Besterman said.

The Pounds 17 million Manchester plan, should it win the European money, will include new galleries, a shop, cafe and lecture theatres, as well better storage and research facilities. Mr Besterman said it was as important to his mission to improve the museum's teaching and research facilities as it was to enhance its public appeal. "It is a false dichotomy to think that these two aims are mutually exclusive."

Students from the museum studies programme would help run exhibitions, and scholars who want to use the collections would be better served. Indirectly, the expansion should promote the university in the community and, perhaps, encourage more local students to study there.

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