Northampton Borough Council denied £240,000 lottery funding because of Sekhemka sale

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Sekhemka statue ENGNNL00120130716121924

Northampton Borough Council has been denied a grant of £240,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) after it lost its Arts Council accreditation for selling the Sekhemka statue.

The council made an application to fund a display of 19th to 21st-century designer shoes at Northampton Museum through the Collecting Cultures programme.

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After assessing all the bids, HLF provided £5 million worth of funding to 23 museums and libraries throughout the UK but rejected the borough council’s bid as it was ruled “ineligible” as applicants must have Arts Council accreditation.

In August, Arts Council England announced it had stripped Northampton Borough Council of its museums service accreditation due to the controversial sale of the Egyptian statue Sekhemka, which sold for £15.8 million at an auction at Christie’s.

A HLF spokeswoman said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) rejected Northampton Council’s Collecting Cultures application because it was ineligible for that particular programme.

“We would assess any other future applications from the council on their own merits.”

An HLF spokeswoman said the rejection of the grant offer would not prevent the borough council from applying for its other funding streams, providing they did not require a condition of Arts Council accreditation.

The borough council received £130,000 from HLF for a shoe exhibition in 2008 and, more recently, £3.6 million in October 2013 to help fund the restoration of Delapre Abbey.

A spokesman for Northampton Borough Council claimed the application to the HLF had been a “joint” bid with the London College of Fashion before the sale of Sekhemka

The council spokesman said: “While disappointed, we do understand that organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund have a duty to bring as many projects to fruition as possible and reach the widest possible audience, which means in this round Northampton has missed out.

“We will continue to expand our collection to provide excellent exhibitions and tell the story of Northampton as we welcome visitors to our town.”

The HLF spokeswoman said the fact the Arts Council accreditation was removed during the applicant assessment process meant the bid was “ineligible”, even though it was made before the sale of Sekhemka.

The spokeswoman also rejected the borough council’s suggestion it had not received any money because the funding stream was “oversubscribed”.

In response, a Northampton Borough Council spokesman said: “We were told that our bid was too much for the size of project and understand also that the fund was oversubscribed.

“We were not told we were ineligible and as far as we are aware accreditation is not a condition of Heritage Lottery Funding.”