Consultancy Opportunity – MDNW Board Development Programme


Museum Development North West (MDNW) is a programme of support for museums across the North West, promoting excellence, innovation, partnerships and organisational sustainability with the aim of helping museums to become resilient in challenging times.

We offer face-to-face contact for museums across the North West (Cheshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria) and run a series of central programmes of development to support organisational resilience, excellence and effective engagement.

MDNW is managed by the Cumbria Museum Consortium (CMC) and the Manchester Partnership, which are Major Partner Museums in Arts Council England’s (ACE) Renaissance Major Grants Programme. Over the lifetime of the programme (April 2012–March 2018) MDNW is funded to deliver exciting and innovative programmes to raise standards in museums.

The CMC comprises of Tullie House, Lakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust and the Manchester Partnership is Manchester Museum, the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery.

Programme Context

MDNW wishes to appoint a consultancy to work with museum boards from a cohort of Independent museums across the North West. Operating in unpredictable and complex landscapes, Museum Boards require a level of leadership agility to ensure they can support their organisation’s sustainable development.

Boards have responsibility for leading an organisation to fulfill the future vision whilst managing current performance, throwing up a number of challenges, which should be recognised and then addressed by the Board. These challenges include:

  1. Understanding the external environment the organisation operates in to develop the right strategic focus
  2. Identifying collective skills, roles and responsibilities and balancing support for board members along with constructive challenges
  3. Balancing the diverse needs and expectations of stakeholders
  4. Developing a collective mind-set and being accountable for decisions

The Board Development Programme will assist museum Boards to help them fulfill their potential through strong and effective governance, as well as the development of a range of leadership and management skills.

Course Structure

The Board Development Program should offer a combination of bespoke, organisational-based workshops and cross-organisational workshops. We envisage the programme to run in two stages:

Stage 1: Board Assessment

Offered to a maximum of 10 museums across the region, this would be an independent assessment of the effectiveness of each museum board involved in the programme. The findings will be presented to each museum as a report and take into account the size and capacity of the organisations involved with realistic recommendations offered. The report will also give the boards information as to whether they meet the standards and expectations of funding bodies, partners, Local Authorities and other key stakeholders.

Stage 2: Bespoke Workshops

Up to 5 museums will be assessed, based on the diagnostic reports, and given the opportunity to participate in an in-depth programme of development support in the form of workshops. These workshops will be delivered at individual organisations and will be developed by the consultancy based on the findings of the diagnostic reports. This may include:

  • A series of tailored Board development and coaching workshops for the whole Board, based on diagnostics, to develop the collective capabilities
  • Individual development of Board members to address recognised skills gaps
  • Setting up coaching pairs to support Board members and develop key relationships between Board members and also staff
  • Succession Planning

Stage 2: Cross-organisational Workshops

These workshops will bring individual board members from participating organisations together to look at more general governance issues and may cover:

  • Governance and Charity Commission – the legislative background
  • The role of the board – clarifying the roles and relationship of the board and staff
  • Working within the framework of the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics and Accreditation
  • Effective meetings and the role of the chair
  • Financial duties
  • Policy and planning
  • The board as employer
  • Advocacy and fundraising
  • Audience Development
  • Opportunity to share proven success from other boards

Programme Outcomes

The Board Development Programme will help participating Boards to be:

  1. Confident in the execution of its diverse roles, balancing strategic and operational focuses
  2. Resilient in responding to the challenges they face
  3. Self-challenging and self-evaluating of its own practices as well as its organisation, its partners and stakeholders
  4. Able to make tough decisions, resolve challenges and adapt to new situations
  5. Able to embrace and effectively use the experience of a diverse Board membership
  6. In full consensus of the vision and strategic direction of the organisation with high level objectives
  7. High performing Board with distributed leadership and a culture of trust
  8. Able to identify, develop and maintain strong external relationships with partners and stakeholders
  9. Good advocates for their organisation, building reputation and presence

Budget and Time Scale

The programme will start in or after April 2016 and all work and workshops must be completed by March 2017. A final report and evaluation will be expected from the consultancy with information from Individual diagnostics, recommendations and board engagement with workshops and delivery of improvements highlighted. Any sensitive information will not be published by MDNW but key findings will form an end of programme evaluation publication to be made available electronically for the benefit of the wider sector.

The total budget is £15,000 (inclusive of VAT) and is to include all associated expenses.

Proposal to tender

The consultant’s proposal to tender should include:

  • details of the relevant experience and competency possessed by the consultant and any other personnel who will work on the project
  • details of how they will undertake the programme
  • a breakdown of full costs
  • a draft timetable

Details on participating museums will be confirmed by the end of March 2016 and passed on to the successful consultancy.

For further details contact:

Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development Officer North
Alex Bird, Sector Development Officer

Proposals should be sent to Kaye Hardyman, Museum Development Officer, by email only, by 5pm 11th March 2016.


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