The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC) is an educational charity that champions new ways of understanding British art history and culture. The Centre offers a variety of grants (for institutions and individuals) and fellowships (for individuals) twice a year in a strictly timetabled schedule. Exceptionally, PMC also occasionally supports larger research projects developed through partnerships with other organisations. If you would like to discuss an idea for a new partnership, please contact the Head of Grants, Fellowships and Networks.
Through all areas of our work, including our Grants & Fellowships programme, we promote activities that enhance and expand knowledge of British art and architecture. As an institution, we pledge ourselves to ensuring that the histories of British art are enriched and made more relevant to a broader range of people in the future. The inclusion of voices, narratives and experiences that have been marginalised or excluded in the past will have a transformational impact on the future of the Centre and upon British art studies. Accordingly, PMC particularly welcomes applications from those who are under-represented within the academic field of the humanities in the UK.
Am I Eligible?
Our funding programme supports scholarship, academic research and the dissemination of knowledge in the fields of British art and architectural history, and of British visual culture understood more broadly, from the medieval period to the present day and across the spectrum of relevant geographical and cultural contexts. There are funding opportunities designed for academics, scholars, authors, curators and museum professionals, postgraduate students and independent researchers as well as some designed for institutions, organisations and publishers. Each of our funding opportunities have individual eligibility requirements – please check these carefully before applying.
All our funding opportunities, apart from the MA/MPhil Studentship and Doctoral Scholarship, are open to international applicants.
All supported topics must clearly connect to the PMC’s mission. We fund research-led projects and activities that are rigorous in their critical and analytical methods. We do not offer grants and fellowships in the areas of field archaeology, the current practice of architecture or the performing arts. Applications in the fields of photography, film and digital media will need to demonstrate their relevance to British art studies.
Applications for projects involving practice-based research are eligible for our funding schemes. It is generally expected that practice-based research would be one element of a project characterised by standard research methodologies, and that all elements of the project would demonstrate rigorous critical and analytical methods. As with any application, applicants need to set out their research questions and the appropriateness of their proposed methodology clearly, and demonstrate how the project relates to the PMC’s mission in terms of its outcomes and impact.
All applications are initially checked to ensure they meet the required funding rubric. If your application does not appear to meet the eligibility criteria for the funding scheme, then you will be informed and your application withdrawn. The Grants & Fellowships Manager is available to discuss eligibility criteria at any point during the application process but is unable to comment on the likelihood of success.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible then please contact the Grants & Fellowships Manager at [email protected] to discuss further.
How Are Successful Applications Decided?
All accepted applications are evaluated by our Advisory Council made up of sixteen academics and professionals with relevant expertise. These meetings generally take place in October (for autumn round) and March (for the spring round).
The number of good applications is likely to exceed the funding available, so the Advisory Council are advised to use some or all of the following criteria to help them in making decisions on how best to allocate funding:
- academic rigour
- originality and distinctness in the context of current scholarship
- contribution to scholarship in the longer term
- timeliness, where a project is connected with a particular moment or opportunity
- where a grant would support work in a geographical or cultural context which has not hitherto been supported by PMC
- need, where the research would be unlikely to go ahead without this support
- impact and inclusion, where the research would include voices or reach a broader range of people than have hitherto been represented in the field of British art studies
Applications will be assessed only on the content of the application form. For more on the assessment process see our Grant Making Policy.
What Are the Timings of the Awards?
Applications for autumn round of funding (all grants categories) open mid-August and close late September.
Applications for the spring round of funding (all Fellowships, Research Support Grants and Event Support Grants) open late November and close late January.
All finalised dates will be listed on the website by the time each round is launched.
Referees have an extra seven days after the application closing dates to submit their references. These deadlines will be set and posted at the launch of each of the rounds. Referee details need to be provided when the application is submitted. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their referees are informed of the process and timetable. All applicants are encouraged to check directly with the references to check that their references are submitted on time.
How Can I Apply?
Applications are only accepted through our online system – grants.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk
Once registered you can start an application. You do not have to complete the application in one go and can return to your form and submit it once you are satisfied with it. Referee details need to be provided after the application is submitted. Without referee details the application will not proceed to Advisory Council for assessment.
An outline of each application form is available to download as a PDF document at the bottom of each rubric page.
If you have any issues applying or have any queries about the online application form, please contact the Grants & Fellowships Manager at [email protected].
Can I Apply for More than One Award?
Institutions can apply for two different grant categories per award round (e.g. a Publication Grant and a Curatorial Research Grant in the autumn round).
Individuals applying for a fellowship cannot apply for any other award in the same round. Individuals applying for awards other than fellowships can apply for up to two different grant categories per award round. If you require any clarification on this matter, you may contact the Grants & Fellowships Manager at any point. However, they are not able to comment on the likelihood of success under any of the schemes.
Institutions and individuals currently in receipt of PMC funding under any of our schemes should contact the Grants & Fellowships Manager before submitting their application.
My research is practice-based, am I eligible for a PMC Grant or Fellowship?
PMC supports practice-based research in the context of projects with clearly stated methodologies and defined research outputs that clearly align with our mission to support new understanding of British art and culture. PMC is unable to fund a project where the practice is the main or sole component of the work.
For the purposes of the grant-giving process, practice-based research is understood to be research that involves elements of making, doing, or experimenting, which may lead to non-textual outputs such as artworks, exhibitions, or films. Practice-based research should provide insights or create new understandings that standard research methodologies might not achieve.
With specific exceptions set out in the guidelines for each scheme, PMC funding is designed to support research activity, and may not be used to support production costs (e.g. those relating to exhibition organisation or the making of artworks). Whatever the form of the research outputs we require that these be supported by written submissions that will make their findings or impact accessible. Specific details of what can, or may not be, supported are provided under each scheme.
Any applicant wishing to submit an application which contains a practice-based component should ensure that their application reflects the following points:
- Research is underpinned by a clearly stated question, or questions.
- Research will follow a structured and clearly articulated process of inquiry that includes documented moments of critical reflection and new/original insights.
- Research is situated in a lineage of similar practices and contextualized within relevant literature and contemporary debate.
- The practice-based elements of the research will produce new, distinctive, and original insights.
- Research outputs, in whatever form, will be accompanied by written submissions which will assist in making their findings accessible.
- Applicants will declare any ethical considerations which may arise in connection with their project, and state how these will be addressed.
Please contact the Grants & Fellowships Manager if you have any questions about submitting an application that contains practice-based research.
How Many Referees Do I Need?
All Fellowship applications, Curatorial Research Grant, Collaborative Project Grant and Digital Project Grant applications require the details of two referees. All other Grant categories require one referee. The Event Support Grant does not require any referee.
For individuals, referees should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s research and career and the subject area for which funding is being sought. The Advisory Council would like to be informed of the originality of the subject matter and the applicant’s suitability to pursue such research.
For institutions, referees are expected to have specialist knowledge of the topic and subject matter and/or have first-hand knowledge of the nominated research curator’s scholarship and career. We do not accept references from individuals who are directly involved in the project or individuals who are affiliated with the institution (employee, trustee etc.) unless it is a large institution, such as a university, and the individual is not personally associated with the project. If you have any questions about your choice of referee, please email the Grants & Fellowships Manager at [email protected].
Once you have submitted the details of your referee(s) they will be emailed by our online system and invited to register a profile to submit the reference online. We do not accept references in any other format.
NB: Please make sure that you contact your individual referees to ensure that they are happy to provide a reference to support your proposal and are aware of the deadlines for submissions. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure that requests for references are received by the referee and that they submit them on time. References submitted after the deadlines listed below will not be accepted and the application will be rejected as a result.
Please also ensure that their email provider adds the following sending domain to their safe senders list so that the referee is able to receive the reference request: goodgrants.com.
There is no way to guarantee email deliverability but safe listing the domain considerably improves the chances of successful delivery. The PMC is not responsible for ensuring that this element of the process is completed.
Guidance and FAQ for Referees
Like applications, all references must be submitted online via our grants system – grants.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk. Once registered you will be able to access the applicant’s application and complete the reference.
If you know you have been asked to be a referee but have not received an email, please check junk/spam folders before contacting the Grants & Fellowships Manager.
As highlighted above, references submitted after the deadline will not be accepted and the application will be rejected as a result.
Please also ensure that your email provider adds the following sending domain to the safe senders list so that the referee is able to receive the reference request: goodgrants.com.
Only attempt to submit a reference once you have received an email notifying you that you have been nominated as a referee.
Referees have an extra seven days after the application closing dates to submit their references. These deadlines will be set and posted at the launch of each of the rounds.
Guidance for Content
The references which support individuals and institutions in all categories of our Grants & Fellowships programme are an extremely important aspect of the application process. The PMC’s Advisory Council places considerable weight on the information and opinions which referees are able to provide in their letters of support.
Your comments should be no longer than five hundred words.
It should be remembered that a letter of reference provides additional information to that contained in the application form itself. The reference should flesh out the application and should include a candid discussion of an applicant’s weaknesses as well as strengths. References are treated as confidential and are not shared with applicants.
All applicants to our awards programme will have provided the PMC with an outline of their research; their specific aims within the scope of the award being sought; and a curriculum vitae.
References in Support of Individuals
Referees should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s research and career and the subject area for which funding is being sought. The Advisory Council would like to be informed of the originality of the subject matter and the applicant’s suitability to pursue such research.
The reference should be focused on the type of fellowship or grant being sought by the applicant and on the specific topic being pursued. We would not expect the referee to review the whole of the applicant’s career as the applicant will have supplied their curriculum vitae.
We would like a candid appraisal from which our Advisory Council can make an informed decision.
References in Support of Institutions and Publishers
There are no hard and fast rules on who may give references in support of institutions but normally we would expect referees to have specialist knowledge of the topic and subject matter, and this may well be an academic or museum/arts professional.
We would not expect internal references from within an institution itself, although a reference from a specialist in a large museum or gallery may be appropriate.
We would like a candid appraisal from which our Advisory Council can make an informed decision.
If you have any trouble with the online system, then please email the Grants & Fellowships Manager at [email protected]
Given the large volume of applications for our grants and fellowships, we are unable to provide detailed feedback on an individual basis.
Grants are awarded entirely at the discretion of the PMC’s Advisory Council and their decision is final. These decisions are made in line with the Grants & Fellowships Due Diligence Policy. For more information about our process, please refer to the Grant Making Policy. If you have any concerns or comments about the application process or how you have been treated, please refer to our Complaints Policy where there are details of how to get in touch with us.