AIM Funding News

Now Open: AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme 2017

The AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme, supported through the generosity of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is now open for applications. The scheme is intended to help medium and smaller sized AIM members to improve their medium and long term sustainability. To be eligible, museums must have an annual turnover of less than £300,000 or fewer than 50,000 visitors a year.

This scheme, which began in 2006, has so far supported 216 projects with over £831,700 of grants. The wide range of applicants demonstrates the importance of sustainability issues to AIM members. There will be only two more rounds before this scheme ends, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to improve your sustainability with a grant from us.

The round for 2017 is now open with a closing date of 3 July at 5pm. Find out more: AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme 2017

New AIM Biffa Award Funded Exhibitions Will Tell The Stories Of Historic Figures From Engineering And Science

AIM Biffa Award have just announced the first round of projects to be supported by the ‘History Makers – People who shaped our world’ programme. Sharing a fund of £170,000, each project will tell the story of their chosen historical figure and how their work and achievements have shaped the world we live in today.

Funded by Biffa Award with support from the Landfill Communities Fund, the programme is funding AIM member museums to create new exhibitions that will inspire the public through the lives and achievements of extraordinary historical figures. The successful projects in Round 1, with exhibitions opening in 2018, will focus on the work of historic figures from engineering and science. They are:

‘Digging Deeper’ at the London Transport Museum; ‘The Father of Modern Forensics’ at The National Justice Museum in Nottingham and ‘Hawkshaw and Barlow Untold’ at The Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre in Bristol. Find out more: AIM Biffa Award History Makers Programme

Job Opportunity: Blackpool Heritage Service

Circus Collection Project Support Officer
£20,456 – £22,434
Full time, temporary until 30th January 2019
Closing date 5th June 2017

The Tower Circus opened in 1894 and has run continuously ever since. It is one of the most historically significant circus venues in the world. The Blackpool Tower Circus collection reflects the importance of both the venue and the rich cultural legacy of the circus community. It is a stunning collection which to date has had limited public access.

The Blackpool Heritage Service has received a grant from the Collections Fund – delivered by the Museums Association to deliver a collections care and public access project called Marvels and Mayhem. It is seeking a Project Support Officer who will play a crucial role in the coordination and delivery of the project through a range of activities.

The project is made up of a number of different strands. Initially the focus will be on cataloguing and improving collections care to prepare the collections for wider public access activities. There will be three engagement elements – a partnership development with the School of Society, Health and Childhood at Blackpool and the Fylde College, supporting members of the circus community to engage with the collection, and the collection will be used as inspiration for a creative writing project with local schoolchildren.

The main duties and responsibilities of this post will include coordination of the different project strands, improving safe access to the collection through preventative conservation, volunteer coordination and supervision, developing good working relationships with project partners, support the development of relationships with the circus community and monitoring project progress.

The successful candidate will have a degree in a related subject (e.g. history, heritage management), experience of working in a museum environment, experience of project delivery and be able to demonstrate relationship building, people skills and partnership working.

Please note all applications must be submitted online. CVs cannot be accepted. For more information and an informal discussion please contact Caroline Hall, Collections Manager, Blackpool Council. Tel: 01253 476631.

For further details see

Job Opportunity: The Audience Agency

Learning and Participation Consultant
£27,000 (full-time equivalent) 0.8/ 4 days per week (Manchester office /Midlands home-based)

The Audience Agency is looking for a part time Learning and Participation Consultant. You will bring expertise and experience in supporting arts and cultural organisations to be engaging, accessible and relevant to everyone.

You will be a confident advocate for the role arts and culture can play in people’s lives and understand the multifaceted, rich and complex nature of issues around diversity, access and inclusion. Through your prior experience, most likely within diversity, engagement, learning or similar roles in the sector, you will have a strong network of relationships in the field and an excellent grasp of wider policy landscape. As a proactive networker, you will relish the opportunity to build our existing networks and develop new client relationships to share our learning, participation and engagement offer to a wider client base.

For the full role details and information on how to apply click here.


Consultancy Opportunity: The Beacon, Whitehaven

Brief for Consultancy Work: The Beacon Museum Whitehaven

Audience Development Project funded through the Sustainable Improvement Fund (MDNW)

You are invited to submit a proposal for undertaking the following study for the Beacon Museum Whitehaven. A written submission is to be made in accordance with the following brief.


The Beacon Museum is an award winning museum that houses a varied collection representing the history of the Copeland area. The museum is three years into a five year collaborative business plan that has come about through a need to develop a sustainable business model.

The fundamental review that Copeland Council has undertaken in direct response to government funding policy changes and budget reductions to local authorities since 2010 has resulted in the Council changing its policy position and corporate priorities with regard to the Museum and associated education delivery. A working collaboration with Sellafield Ltd. has allowed the museum to progress and expand with greater fiscal independence. The aim of continuing to deliver a museum whereby the people of Copeland can explore their rich and diverse history through the collection remains a constant throughout this transitional process.

With the changing contexts surrounding the Beacon Museum, it is therefore vital that the team continue to operate in a commercially astute manner, identifying and developing the most productive consumer groups for the museum; developing and engaging those groups who are most likely to buy into the museum’s identity and culture. Also identifying barriers to access and understanding within other groups is vitally important to future planning.


The Beacon Museum aims to develop a five-year audience development strategy that addresses and informs all aspects of the museum’s activity: shop, exhibitions, events, learning and engagement programmes, marketing and visitor services. The aim of that strategy is to provide the organisation with clear targets and outcomes for developing our links with specified audiences. This strategy must address two key aims.

  • Sustainability: the Beacon Museum is moving to a business model of operating and will increasingly rely on the income generated from ticket sales and other visitor transactions.
  • Diversity: the Beacon Museum aims to make substantial progress in attracting more diverse audiences, activities and exhibitions.

Overall we are seeking a commitment to deliver 12 days of work to prepare and deliver this project. The total amount available is £4,170 (please take into consideration that this should include VAT, room hire, catering, and refreshments for focus groups)

For the full brief click here.


Job Opportunity: The Atkinson, Southport

Life-long Learning Officer
Fixed term to 31st March 2018
A full-time, part-time or job-share secondment
to The Atkinson
Grade F SCP 22-26 £20,661 to £23,398 per annum

Introducing ourselves:  Following an extensive refurbishment, the Atkinson provides a vibrant day-time and evening cultural offer with theatres, art galleries, a museum, retail spaces, bars, café, and Sefton’s busiest library.  For the last three-years our ambitious life-long learning programme has made a difference to the lives of children, young people, families and older people across the borough.  It has helped develop The Atkinson as a beacon of good practice in access and engagement.

Job requirements:  This fixed term contract is a fantastic opportunity to expand the experience and skills you have developed in the context of learning and development and apply them to our work as a centre of excellence in creative learning.  

You will be passionate about the arts and learning. You will be part of a team that is completing and evaluating the final phase of our Heritage Lottery funded Museum Activity Plan – developing and delivering resources for community engagement as well as activity programmes for children, families and communities. 

You have a range of relevant experience of developing creative engagement, through working with schools, families, children and young people, or community engagement.  You will be comfortable working to tight deadlines, delivering high quality programmes and resources with specific outcomes, and contributing to a highly motivated team. 

You will be a strong sense of the role arts and culture can play in learning, skills, resilience and wellbeing agendas.  You will have an excellent level of skills in the following areas:

·         Communication, interpersonal, relationship building and networking skills

·         Project management and organisation with the ability to prioritise and meet deadlines; including managing project budgets

·         Setting and measuring project outcomes for evaluation

·         Negotiation and working with a wide range of people

·         Writing clearly, accurately and engagingly to produce reports, evaluation as well as resources and communications with partners

·         Ability to recognise opportunities and respond in an appropriate and timely manner.

·         Ability to work on own initiative, with strong organisation skills.

We will consider applications from suitably skilled and experienced people, who wish to work on a secondment, part-time or job-share basis. 

For further details and to apply online go to the job page.

Closing Date: 28/05/2017

Interviews will take place on: 1st June 2017

Volunteer Managers Network Meeting

Friday 9th June
Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester
10:30 – 12:30

Run alongside the National Football Museum and Staircase House the North West Volunteer Managers Network is an opportunity for volunteer managers from around the region to network and share best practice and get advice.

At the next North West Volunteer Managers Network Meeting we will be joined by:

Ruth Hutchinson, Volunteer community engagement manager, University of Manchester
Jack Puller, Team Leader, Volunteer Centre Manchester

They will both discuss how they can help to recruit volunteers for us and also what they can also do for volunteers and volunteer managers.

We will also have an opportunity to discuss the up and coming development programme for regional Volunteer Managers.

So we know how numbers for catering please can you book your place here and if you have any questions get in touch with Alex Bird, Sector Development Office –

Museums as Spaces for Wellbeing – 2 day free training, North Region

Day 1: Friday 14 July  – People’s History Museum, Manchester, 10am-4pm

Day 2: Thursday 23 November – York Castle Museum, 11am-4pm

Are you interested in exploring how your museum could contribute to people’s health and wellbeing but are not sure where to start? Over the course of two workshops participants will gain the skills and confidence to develop their thinking about this work to support the delivery of health and wellbeing provision within their museum. The training will help attendees to: overcome the barriers to working with the health sector, create opportunities to contact and meet with potential health and wellbeing partners, begin the process of thinking about your museum its spaces, collections and resources and how they can be utilised in this work, explore ways to measure impact and support organisational change. This training is run by the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing.

For more information or to book please visit the eventbrite page.

Freelance Opportunity: Eden Rivers Trust & Tullie House

Brief for expressions of interest:

Phase 1 Exhibition Concept Design, branding & visual identity


Eden Rivers Trust and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery are working in partnership to create a major new exhibition exploring the life and story of the River Eden which is part of the Cherish Eden project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition will be displayed at Tullie House from 16 June 2018 until 30 September 2018. The exhibition will be targeted at a family audience, particularly families with children aged 7 – 11 years old (Key Stage 2).

The exhibition will explore the idea that “the River Eden is an amazing place, making it a great place to explore”. This idea will be explored through 4 main themes:

  1. There are awe inspiring places to visit on the Eden
  2. The River Eden is bursting with life and home to amazing creatures
  3. We need to keep the river amazing
  4. You can take inspiration and get creative with the river

Tullie House’s natural history collection will provide an exploration of the creatures that can be seen in the river catchment, highlighting the animal’s unique features, special abilities and amazing adaptations (Theme 2.1). The total exhibition budget for design and build is approximately £40,000.

We would like to invite Design companies to tender to provide an Exhibition Concept Design for the project. This is the first design phase in the production of the exhibition. We are looking to commission an external designer with experience of working with organisations to produce high quality visitor experiences. The designer will work with Eden Rivers Trust and Tullie House to realise and establish the exhibition’s brand identity and to develop visual content.

Scope and Specification:

We require an external designer to create a Concept Design which will form the visual identity for the exhibition which will connect with and inspire our visitors. The design should shape the visitor experience within the exhibition.

Phase 1 Concept Design must include the following elements:

  • A design concept to run throughout exhibition. This will create the visual identity of the exhibition, the look and feel and visitor experience. Ideally the partnership would like to explore a range of concept options as part of the design process.
  • Design elements which will realise the exhibition concept such as colour themes, fonts and typography and other graphic elements.
  • A range of ideas for other exhibition content e.g. staging ideas, use of commissioned art work, sound, lighting and projection.
  • Creation and supply of a logo for exhibition.
  • Creation of a minimum of 3 family-friendly characters, based upon creatures to act as family guides throughout the exhibition.
  • Cost estimates for the design and build.

The above elements of the exhibition will require design, and artwork provided to the project team by the designer. The copyright for the artwork will sit with the project partners for use in promotional and commercial activity before, during and after the exhibition.

Phase 2 of the exhibition design (this is not part of this tender but provided for context)

Using the visual identity/style created above a detailed exhibition design will be created (phase 2). This will be fulfilled by a range of external contractors (which may or may not involve the phase 1 designer) and Tullie House in-house team.

We anticipate that the following elements will be produced:

  • Exhibition graphics: approx. 40 interpretation panels (text); approx. 20 graphic; panels. Approx. 100 labels
  • Exhibition staging: Lighting and projection; Sound. Structures: Display cabinets for exhibits; Temporary structures to add to the visitor experience
  • Exhibition layout
  • Detailed costings
  • Promotional material to include, but not limited to: 2-3 leaflets; Posters (with resizing); banners (print and digital and resizing); advertising (print and digital and resizing); signage; activity sheets

Budget for Phase 1 Concept Design:

Phase 1 Exhibition Design Concept Creation – £2000.00 plus vat

Key Contacts at Eden Rivers Trust:

Jane Davies, Heritage and Outreach Coordinator ,; 01768866788

Process for applying:

Submit expressions of interest to:

Jane Davies,, Eden Rivers Trust, Dunmail Building, Newton Rigg College, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0AH. Deadline for expressions of interest: Monday 5th of June 2017 by 12.00 noon.

As part of your expression of interest please describe your relevant experience referencing projects of a similar nature. Please include images and or references to websites where examples can be seen.

Please describe your methodology, including key stages and timescales, and a breakdown of how the specification can be achieved within this budget. If additional costs are anticipated to meet the specification please outline these.

The successful applicant will be expected to begin work on the project in June 2017 for completion by the 18th August 2017 or earlier.

If you have any enquiries regarding the project please contact Jane Davies, by email to An interpretation plan for the project is available on request.

British Museum News

CALL FOR PARTNERS: New partnership exhibition 

Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories will showcase LGBTQ histories through objects from very ancient history to the present day, reflecting global and contemporary perspectives. We are seeking three partners to host the exhibition between December 2018 – September 2019. Further details of the exhibition are attached. If you are interested in hosting the exhibition, please complete the Expression of Interest form by Friday 16 June.

CALL FOR PARTNERS: New partnership exhibition

Hoards: the hidden history of ancient Britain is produced in partnership with Salisbury Museum, and focusses on the varied and changing explanations for the burial and non-recovery of hoards. We are seeking three partners to host the exhibition between January – October 2019.  Further details of the exhibition are attached. If you are interested, please complete the Expression of Interest form by Friday 16 June.

FREE WORKSHOP – Exploring drawings in UK Museums, 20 June 2017

We are hosting a free workshop for UK curators and museum staff working with drawings collections. Using the rich graphic holdings of the British Museum and our current project, Lines of thought, the day will explore how drawings collections can be opened up to artists and art students, used to complement curricula at art schools and to generate audience and community engagement around the UK  For more information on the day and how to apply for a place, please see the session information – the deadline for applications is Wednesday 24 May 2017.


Innovative Approach to Families in Galleries

Four contemporary art galleries in the North bring in new family visitors with innovative approach

Evaluation shows new approach, funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, brings in 123,000 visitors but lessons are also learnt 

Four contemporary art galleries in the North of England have successfully brought in thousands of ‘under represented’ new visitors by commissioning special exhibitions aimed at a family audience and using an innovative communication approach, their new evaluation shows.

The Gymnasium Gallery in Berwick, Central Art Gallery in Ashton-under-Lyne, Towneley Hall in Burnley and the DLI Museum and Art Gallery in Durham worked together to create the Generation Tour which visited the galleries between September 2014 and September 2016. 

The Tour used a research-based approach to audience development and commissioned artists to develop four brand new hands-on contemporary art exhibitions designed to appeal to families. 

Lucy Jenkins, Art Curator for Durham County Council, said “This has been a very successful project with rich learning along the way that we can build on. We hope others in the culture sector can also gain something from our discoveries.” 

“We embarked on this project because family audiences were under represented in our venues. This was a missed opportunity, not only in terms of visitor numbers but because contemporary art can enrich the lives of families and encourage a lifelong appreciation and interest.” 

“We were delighted that the Generation Tour was so successful. More than 123,000 came to see the exhibitions. Nearly 1,500 filled out questionnaires that showed 83% were visiting as families and the average approval score was 8.7 out of 10.”

“We were especially pleased to see that 14% of those visiting had never set foot in an art exhibition before – getting visitors to try a completely new cultural genre is not an easy thing to do.”

To achieve these results, family focus groups were used and previous research applied to find out what the barriers were to families visiting and what they wanted from a visit. The clearest message was that contemporary art galleries were perceived as ‘hands off’ places where curious, noisy children would not be welcome. Many found the terminology used in marketing off-putting too – even the use of the word ‘art’ was a turn off for many.

The Generation Tour responded to this with exhibitions that were very much hands on, colourful marketing literature that was instantly recognisable as ‘for families’ and training for staff to ensure a warm welcome for this audience.

For all their mainstream appeal, the exhibitions didn’t compromise on artistic quality. Generation AIR by Spacecadets created ambient, breathing inflatables inspired by the human body; Generation NOISE by Owl Project offered huge wooden interactive sound machines; The Tree, The Caterpillar and The Butterfly by Aether and Hemera invited families to bring a nature garden to life using Xbox Kinect technology and Musical Chairs by Hellicar and Lewis offered the chance to compose a changing soundscape by joining hands with other humans. They successfully brought in many families but not everything went to plan.

“We learnt there was a tricky balance between showing families that contemporary art galleries could be hands on but also getting the message across that it was not exactly the same environment as a playground.” said Lucy Jenkins. ” When you’re encouraging people to interact with artworks you need to make sure they are really robust otherwise things can stop working and it causes stress for front of house staff”. 

“We’re now looking at our next steps and would like to commission new exhibitions. Funding permitting, these will use interpretation, exhibit robustness and staff training to help families interact with exhibitions in a way that’s both enjoyable for them and sustainable for the art offer.”

“With this learning we’re confident we can deepen the engagement for families further still and continue to play our part in turning around the perception that contemporary art galleries are not for families.” 

An infographic overview of the Generation Tour is available here and the full length evaluation here. Video interviews with families who attended the exhibitions are also available here.