Consultancy Opportunity: Museum Development Network



The Museum Development Network (MDN) was set up to support collaborative working across museum development services in the UK. MDN is directed by the Museum Development Committee (MDC), which is made up of representatives from each MD team.

The Museum Development Programme (MDP) in England is a programme of support for museums across the nine regions of England, promoting excellence, innovation, partnerships and organisational sustainability with the aim of helping museums to become resilient in challenging times. Each MD team has secured funding from Arts Council England (ACE) to run central programmes of development to enhance museum services based around Arts Council England’s 5 strategic goals: ACE 5 Goals

The MDC seeks to contract a Strategic Development Consultant to support the Museum Development Network (MDN) to develop a nationally cohesive programme of museum development support whilst reflecting regional differences in sector profile and sector need.

This would include working with the MDN Committee and wider network to support the development of:

  • Effective frameworks that aid collaborative working in key areas across the UK
  • A shared set of KPI’s, evaluation tools and impact measures to support the production of advocacy and state of the region reports
  • Collaborative development and delivery of support programmes where appropriate
  • National ambition statement, vision and service charter

These tasks are set firmly within the context of the DCMS Museums Review, the new Arts Council NPO funding environment and the emerging desire for a nationally cohesive MD programme with outcomes to reduce:

  • Duplication in the R&D stage of programme development
  • Duplication in online resources created
  • Lost opportunities to learn from good practice and less successful initiatives across different teams
  • Difficulties for other agencies wanting to work with MD teams, and tap into their excellent on the ground knowledge of museums in their area
  • Lack of joined up understanding of the value for money created by different programmes in different regions

MDN Strategic Development Contract

The contract fee is £10,000, starting in June 2017 and finishing in March 2018. The MDN Committee have secured funding for this contract from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation (EF) via the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) who recognise the value of Museum Development Programme (MDP) to their members, topped up by MD funding.

Required Key Skills and Tasks:

  • facilitation skills – MDN desire to develop a stronger nationally cohesive MD programme by identifying effective opportunities for collaboration and shared approaches to delivery whilst safeguarding the distinctiveness and variations across the regions to ensure local delivery is fit for purpose. These solutions are best identified through further discussion of the committee. This requires facilitation, support and structure at meetings and in collating the results of discussions and developing routes forward that collectively MDP’s can adopt.
  • Evaluation/ impact frameworks – effective shared approaches to evaluation present a key opportunity for MDN to capture the impact of MD nationally where existing delivery aligns. The development of effective shared approaches to evaluation which bring related areas of MD delivery under one national impact/evaluation framework will help MDN to present a single national picture to stakeholders and partners. This requires close collaboration across the MDP to ensure it is suitable for application for 2018-22 programmes. The contract is required to go beyond recommendations for evaluation and is required to support the implementation of the shared framework across the MDN partners. As a result of this work it is anticipated that shared key performance indicators and a more consistent and robust approach to setting targets against KPIs can be achieved.
  • Advocacy – the development of quality evaluation/impact frameworks will directly inform development of advocacy recommendations and support the implementation of a national approach to MD advocacy. The contract is required to support MDN to develop a core strategic ‘campaign’ for MD to include the development of advocacy content, to work with the MDN/MD Providers to coordinate the creation and dissemination of a number of key articles within sector journals in order to raise the profile of the MD programme, the MDN and the distinctive role of MD provision within the sector.
  • Strategic and national sector policy context – the production of the ACE Museum development Impact Evaluation Report , the DCMS Museums Review, the Museums Association (MA) Taskforce and the new ACE National Portfolio Organisation programme have generated a significant shift in the national strategic and policy context. Additional capacity is required to ensure MDN can respond to these changes and move from being on the ‘back foot’ as a consultation body into a space that is able to confidently influence policy. The unique function of MD is its ability to bring the context of the wider museum sector as one of only two programmes delivering with national coverage. Recent activity with data underpinning the MA’s annual ‘Cuts Survey’ demonstrates the potential value of MD however this value is not as widely recognised as it could be. Initial work was carried out with the MDN Committee away days however further capacity is required to implement key recommendations generated by the session and previous Paddy McNulty report.
  • Governance and structure of MDN – to carry out a review of the current MDN Committee, network governance, processes and structures in order to ensure it is fit for purpose and operates effectively, is fleet of foot and with a minimum of administration dependencies. This will build on the significant changes that the MDN Committee has undergone over the past two years though this revision has not extended to the wider network. In order to ensure the previous tasks relating to evaluation, impact and advocacy are achieved, it will be important to ensure the full MDN ‘membership’ are signed up to and engaged in the new approach to MD. MDN structures needs to consider effective mechanisms for key officers across MDN to collaborate, share and network. It is anticipated that this foundation will form the basis for future funding bids and investment to support the wider MDN and MD workforce in skills sharing and development.

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 consultancy
  • Details of how they will undertake the programme of work outlined above
  • A breakdown of full costs
  • A draft timetable

The deadline for proposal submission is Friday 2nd June 2017.

The interview date is Friday 16th June, Central Manchester. Venue TBC.

Please submit your proposals to Claire Browne, Chair of MDN Committee at

Reports and information mentioned in the above brief will be supplied to the successful candidate in preparation for an initial meeting of the MDN Committee.

For further details contact:

Claire Browne, Chair of MDN Committee:


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