I recently heard a rumor that the Institute of Museum and Library Services made significant changes to their grant programs for museums on February 13, 2012 including:
- All grant programs will have the same deadline: January 15. This will require organizations to have sufficient capacity to prepare several applications at one time during the busy holiday and year end season.
- Conservation grants are now part of the broader Museums for America (MFA) grant program. Organizations can no longer apply for separate conservation and MFA grants–they have to choose one.
- 21st Century Museum Professionals and National Leadership Grants have been combined. Applicants (particularly museum associations) will now have to choose one and can’t do both.
It seems the public and museum field had no opportunity to comment on these changes, however, some of the additional issues that have been raised are:
- With this consolidation, it reduces the number of grants available to the museum field. It is particularly vexing when different types of grant programs (collections conservation and educational activities) are combined into one. Museums will now have to choose between improving the care of their collections or better serving the public–they won’t be able to seek funds to do both.
- With a single annual deadline, it gives the advantage to larger institutions who have more staff to prepare several grant applications at one time. That was the widespread criticism of the former General Operating Support grant program and now it’s returned in a new guise.
No information about these changes can be found on the IMLS website and despite requests to the IMLS offices of Museum Services and Communications offices for more details on these changes and when they would take effect, I received no response. I’ve now sent a request to the IMLS director, but in the meantime, does anyone have more information?