Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove (RPM) leads Arts Council England (ACE)’s Museum Development Programme in the South East (SEMDP), working in partnership with Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, Oxfordshire Museums and the Hampshire Cultural Trust. The programme was established in 2012, and in 2015 was renewed for another three years. In 2017, funding was secured until 2022.

SEMDP supports around 300 museums between Oxfordshire and Kent – an area of 7373m2 which is home to nearly 9 million people. It is committed to helping the region’s museums achieve the highest standards, and reach and inspire more people.

ACE grants the South East £552k a year for museums development, divided between four sub-regions, to engender transformational change and increased sustainability. Each sub-region takes the lead in one of four work areas:

  1. Active Collections (links to ACE goal 1 [], led by Kent)
  2. Great Experience (links to ACE goals 2 and 5, led by Surrey, East & West Sussex)
  3. Promote Better Business (links to ACE goal 3, led by Oxfordshire)
  4. Nurture Strong Leadership (links to ACE goal 4, led by Hampshire)


RPM develops and delivers an annual development plan for the South East, with areas of support including:

  • Accreditation support
  • Direct training, and sharing information on external training opportunities
  • Preventative conservation surveys, monitoring kits and resource banks
  • Small development grants of up to around £2000 per museum, for projects falling within the programme’s remit (£12,000 maximum per sub-region, per year)
  • ACE small capital development grants to enable museums to take loans from National Collections, totalling £210,000 in 2016
  • Peer-to-peer support structures and networks on key areas, e.g. volunteering
  • On online Help Hub, and other resources
  • A fortnightly newsletter, sharing intelligence and information on training, grants and career opportunities
  • Liaison with ‘bridge’ organisations fostering relationships between museums and ‘customer’ organisations like schools
  • Partnerships and collaborations, e.g. with National Parks and universities


The South East also has a leadership role in the national Museum Development Network.

SEMDP produces quarterly reports and a three-year advocacy document on its activities, which are available on request and via its website.