On 22 December 2003 the Scottish Executive announced the guidelines for the Regional Development Challenge Fund, a £3 million programme to support the development of regional museum partnerships. At the instigation of Herbert Coutts, Director of Culture & Leisure at City of Edinburgh Council, a consortium of museums in Scottish Borders, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Edinburgh and Fife, including Local Authority, independent, university and national museums, was established with the aim of submitting applications to the fund for specific projects which would be of benefit to all the partners.
The East of Scotland Museums Partnership successfully secured over £1,000,000 funding for three projects over three years:
- The Digital Resource Development Team (lead partner East Lothian Council)
- Regional Museums Training & Development Project (lead partner Scottish Borders Council)
- Scotland & Medicine, Collections & Connections (lead partner the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh)
Each project engaged a range of partners and established several networks which have resulted in tangible benefits for the museum sector in the East of Scotland.