Themed rounds

To enable funding to be targeted towards immediate sector needs, identified challenges in the sector, or to support topics considered to be of wider interest, we will sometimes adopt a theme for a round of Archive Testbed funding. Themes are in place to encourage thinking around the ideas presented. Themes have been selected to ensure that applications will be able to demonstrate clear innovation and impact on the archive service and wider sector.

Current themed round

Round 12: Sustainability

Applications for round 12 close on 19 July 2022

In November 2021, our Archives Supporting Environmental Sustainability forum highlighted the archive sector’s achievements in mitigating and adapting to the ongoing effects of climate change. We are keen to continue working with the sector in this area. As part of our partnership with ICCROM’s Our Collections Matter initiative, we are delighted to announce a round of Archives Testbed grants that will help two archives in England look for innovative solutions to sustainable development.

Your project will need to use resources from the freely accessible Our Collections Matter Toolkit to address a specific sustainability aspiration or challenge in one of the following areas:

  • Co-creation of sustainability-themed public outreach / community events
  • Collections risk management
  • Sustainable digital preservation
  • Going green: aligning archive strategy / business plans to the Sustainable Development Goals

You can apply for up to £10,000 to help you complete your project, which should be completed in a maximum of 12 months. During your project, you will have access to advice and support from The National Archives, in your chosen area of focus. We will be a sounding board as you select resources from the OCM toolkit and implement them within your organisation.

By using the Our Collections Matter Toolkit and feeding back on its resources during your project, you’ll not only be benefiting your own archive, but also contributing to the sustainable development of the wider archive and heritage sector.

If you are interested in applying, we will be holding a webinar on Thursday 16 June with colleagues from the Our Collections Matter initiative. Sign up to the webinar for more details and to submit any questions you have about this funding programme.

Previous themed rounds

Round 11: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Applications for round 11 closed on 5 April 2022

The National Archives is delighted to announce £30,000 of new funding, to help the archives sector mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Year. We are looking to fund innovative projects that engage with any aspect of this year’s jubilee, or any previous royal or state occasion. For example, your project could:

  • investigate and display your own collections relating to previous jubilees, coronations or state events
  • explore family or community histories of previous royal occasions in your local area
  • engage your local community with an exhibition or event for the Jubilee weekend

Applications from outside of Greater London and first-time funding applicants are particularly welcome. Please note that we expect any funded events to run on or around the Jubilee weekend (2 – 5 June 2022). You can apply for a grant of between £1,000 and £5,000 to fund your project.

Round 9: The 1920s

Applications for round 9 closed on 13 December 2021

100 years on from the 1920s, we would like to support archives in testing ideas relating to this decade. We welcome projects that explore any aspect of this 1920s theme so you can be as creative as you like. For example, your project could:

  • draw on the similarities and differences between your archive’s 1920s records and the 2020s, helping people understand the decade better
  • experiment with a creative way of engaging audiences with your 100-year-old collections, including people who didn’t have ancestors in the UK at the time
  • explore a subject relating to the decade, such as women in work or new technology

This round will have additional funding to support the 1920s theme and we encourage you to apply while this additional funding is still available.

Round 6: Addressing representation in archives

Applications for round 6 closed on 25 January 2021

We would like to support archive services who want to explore and test approaches to addressing issues of representation in archives. This includes but is not limited to:

  • diversification of collections and developing more ethnically diverse audiences and workforce
  • creative re-imagining of human-centred and equitable archive services
  • ethical collaborations and democratised decision making

There is a growing body of work taking place in the archive sector which challenges historic practice, aims to reveal hidden voices in archive collections and tackles stereotypes and racist language used in catalogues. The sector is also developing participatory approaches to exploring the issues relating to the representation of marginalised communities in the archive record. In this round of Archives Testbed funding, we would like to hear from archive services planning to undertake projects in this area and provide funding support for this vital exploratory work.

Round 5: Reaching audiences during the Covid-19 pandemic

Applications for round 5 closed on 2 November 2020

We would like to support archive services who wish to test, explore or evolve ideas relating to how archives can better reach new and existing audiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is having an impact on the usual ways we interact with our audiences, including the numbers of users able to visit archives and our use of digital technology. In this round of Archives Testbed funding, we would like to support archives who are exploring alternative ways to reach out to audiences, testing different approaches to audience development, and developing approaches to engagement that they have not tried previously.