Tagged: AIM

AIM Conference 2018 Blog

My first experience of an AIM conference was well-timed, as I was just in the door at my new workplace of Port Sunlight Museum. I was able to attend thanks to a Museum Development North West bursary, and I very much welcomed the opportunity to meet peers from other independent museums, and to get an insight into the current landscape in the sector.

The conference kicked off with a series of talks on why diversifying audiences is good for everyone. Hannah Fox’s case study of Derby Silk Mill’s model of co-production, and the importance of being asked ‘What do you need?’ at a pivotal time in her own life, was really inspiring. The power of words was a recurring theme in this session, with Tony Butler of Derby Museums questioning the term ‘hard to reach’ as rather patronising to audiences with agency and discernment, who choose not to visit museums. Butler called for ‘empathy not sympathy’, and challenged museums to let people change us, rather than vice versa. Shaz Hussain of the Science Museum challenged the term ‘diversity’ itself as something she would never use to describe herself, preferring the term ‘representation’. She articulated the power of language with the example of referring to ‘enslaved people’ in interpretation rather than ‘slaves’; an accurate and more nuanced term, which could have real impact for its readers. A bizarre question from the floor about ‘changing history’ was handled well by Hussain; it made me question assumptions about the liberal mindset of the museums workforce, and highlighted the need to keep issues of representation high on the agenda.

This year’s conference was literally close to home for me, hosted at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. As a Coventrian, the car industry has been an important part of my life – my dad worked at the now-closed Peugeot factory, and my sister and brother-in-law are at Jaguar Land Rover. Somehow though I’d never visited what I’d always heard referred to as the ‘heritage centre’, and so was quite amazed at the scale of the museum and its facilities. I enjoyed going on one of the guided tours of the Collections Centre; a fantastic purpose-built facility, complete with an active workshop area, and fully open to the public as part of the museum experience. On the second day of the conference I attended a talk by Julie Tew of the British Motor Museum, where she explained the museum’s history, its changing relationship with its landlord, Jaguar Land Rover, and its work to position itself as a major tourist venue and capitalise on its conference facilities. It was very interesting to hear from another museum with such a close connection to industry. Port Sunlight was founded as a worker’s village for the Lever Brothers soap factory; my organisation’s relationship with what is now Unilever has changed over the years, and we similarly are working hard to ensure financial sustainability.

These sessions were my personal highlights of a really full two days of conference – it also included breakout workshops, important legal updates for charities, an eclectic set of three-minute showcases, and talks on everything from good financial management to the fascinating history of local gallery and historic house Compton Verney. I appreciated the opportunity to attend and as well as some practical ideas, and new and reignited connections, it’s given me much food for thought.

Denise Courcoux, Museum Officer, Port Sunlight Museum

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AIM Conference 2018 Bursary

Museum Development North West are pleased to announce that there is a bursary available for this year’s AIM Conference at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon on 21st– 23rd June. The theme for this year is Changing Gear. Museum Development North West recognises that it is important for museum professionals to connect with colleagues through conferences and networking events, but also how stretched budgets can be when it comes to professional development. If you would like a free place then you need to tell us that you will:

  • Commit to attending the whole conference
  • Feedback to colleagues and the region via our blog
  • Send us any relevant information and feedback to put on the MDNW website

How to apply

This opportunity is open to people working in accredited museums, or those working towards accreditation in the North West, except members of staff at NPOs and National Museums.

To apply please send an expression of interest stating how you and your organisation will benefit from you attending to Alex Bird by 5PM Wednesday 6th June.

Please note that the bursaries only cover the conference on Thursday and Friday only and not the paid-for social events.

New Resources for Heritage Trustees from AIM

This week, AIM is launching the first in a series of new resources for heritage trustees, offering accessible, practical advice to help you provide effective leadership for your organisations. The first of the AIM Guides for Boards cover: Away Days, Recruitment, Effective Meetings and an Introduction to Museums for New Trustees. Titles coming soon include a guide to auditing your governance and a revised version of AIM’s Guide to Successful Governance in Independent Museums.

The new resources are available to download here.

AIM Conference 2018 Bursaries

Museum Development North West are pleased to announce that there are a two bursaries for this year’s AIM Conference at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon on 21st– 23rd June. The theme for this year is Changing Gear.Museum Development North West recognises that it is important for museum professionals to connect with colleagues through conferences and networking events, but also how stretched budgets can be when it comes to professional development.If you would like a free place then you need to tell us that you will:

  • Commit to attending the whole conference
  • Feedback to colleagues and the region via our blog
  • Send us any relevant information and feedback to put on the MDNW website

How to apply

These two opportunities are open to people working in accredited museums, or those working towards accreditation in the North West, except members of staff of NPOs and National Museums.

To apply please send an expression of interest stating how you and your organisation will benefit from you attending to Alex Bird by 5PM Friday 11th May.

Please note that the bursaries only cover the conference on Thursday and Friday only and not the paid-for social events.

AIM Success Guide On The General Data Protection Regulation

With the implementation of the newGeneral Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) we thought it would be good to remind people of the Success Guide published by AIM last year:

Museums and other cultural organisations that want to understand how they should be responding to current and forthcoming GDPR can now benefit from a free Success Guide from AIM called Successfully Managing Privacy And Data Regulations In Small Museums.

The new AIM publication has not been created as a guide to everything in the Data Protection Act (DPA) – or the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – but focuses instead on the most important areas for action now. The GDPR applies to the whole UK, so this guide is suitable for all AIM members and other heritage sector organisations across the UK. You can directly download it from here: Success Guide On The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Museum Development North West will be running another workshop on GDPR soon so please look out for details on our blog.

AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme

Closing date: Monday 15th January

The AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme, supported through the generosity of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, 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.

The scheme will come to an end in early 2018 – so this is the last chance that AIM members can apply. Funding is aimed at projects that explore increased and/or diversified income streams and/or develop organisational resilience. Examples of the type of project that AIM would be keen to fund can be found on the main grants page here.

Find out more and take a look at a case study from AIM members, The Grantown Museum, to see how an AIM Sustainability Grant supported them at: www.aim-museums.co.uk/aim-sustainability-grant-scheme-closing-soon.

AIM Launches New Success Guide On The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Museums and other cultural organisations that want to understand how they should be responding to current and forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can now benefit from a free Success Guide from AIM called Successfully Managing Privacy And Data Regulations In Small Museums.

The new AIM publication has not been created as a guide to everything in the Data Protection Act (DPA) – or the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – but focuses instead on the most important areas for action now. The GDPR applies to the whole UK, so this guide is suitable for all AIM members and other heritage sector organisations across the UK. You can directly download it from here: Success Guide On The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

AIM Grant Schemes

Deadline: Various – see below

AIM administers grants for museums to help AIM members with a variety of needs including training, conservation, development and exhibitions. There are different eligibility criteria and closing dates for each grant scheme, so please check each grant programme for further information about how to apply and the priorities for funding for each scheme.

Discuss your ideas with us

We recommend that you contact us to discuss your project before applying, so we can help you ensure your application fits the scheme you intend to apply to.

Please contact Helen Wilkinson, Assistant Director for Hallmarks Awards – Helenw@aim-museums.co.uk

For all other Grant Schemes contact Justeen Stone, Grants & Finance Officer – justeen@aim-museums.co.uk

Current AIM Grant Deadlines 2017

  • Conservation Scheme –  30 September
  • Collection Care Audit Scheme For Smaller Museums – 30 September
  • Preventive Conservation Scheme –30 September
  • AIM Training Grants – accepted on a rolling basis.
  • AIM Biffa Award History Makers – October 31
  • For more information click here.

Conference Report: AIM 2017

The AIM conference was at Chatham Historic Dockyard this year, and it was remarkable for the sheer diversity of the participating organisations. 

The venue itself is likely to be one of the bigger independents, and a comparison with my own organisation (Catalyst in Widnes) by dint of simply looking at our respective reports reveals some significant and interesting differences.

In terms of visitor figures Chatham has about 180k pa vs our own 40k, but apart from the huge difference in size of the site, and the interesting combination of types of attraction at Chatham, then the most significant statistic was the significant amount of income that they are able to realise from their property portfolio, which is the biggest single income stream by some margin.  In overall terms Chatham has 4 and a half times our visfigs but more than 14 times our income, and quite frankly it is a source of some wonder that we do so much with so little.

Coming back to diversity, this was highlighted in one of the most interesting workshops which considered the issue of whether or not to charge.  This question was widely interpreted, for example at the smaller end of the scale Elgin museum, which is run to a great extent by volunteers, made a decision to test a move after 170 years, from paid to free admission (the Moray Society which controls the museum has separate membership arrangements).  Amongst the reasons for this were static visfigs along with poor involvement for volunteers from time to time (they got bored!)

The Elgin raised £6k from local business supporters to trial the scheme, as this sum was equal to the approximate annual visitor income, and the scheme went ahead.  This resulted in an increase in visfigs by 25%, and donations (now heavily promoted) exceed the previous admission income.

At the Moray Society’s AGM on April 24 this year the agenda notes recorded the positive outcome.

“the Office Bearers reiterated the benefits of not charging an admission fee, reflected in the increased number of visits/revisits and the happy atmosphere in the Museum without loss of revenue”

At the other end of the scale came the behemoth that is Birmingham Museums Trust, an interesting collection of former municipal sites and a major gallery that had merged with Thinktank in 2012.  The need for increased income had led them to introduce some significant changes in their charging regime.  Things that were formally free became chargeable, and as an example in 2015 Thinktank began to charge for its planetarium which, apart from and extra £200k annual income, had the possibly unanticipated benefit of increasing customer ratings for the planetarium itself.  Parents now found the removal of the uncertainty inherent in the previous queueing system to be a significant improvement.  This is something (advance purchase of timed workshop tickets) that we will consider very seriously, and we may now add a premium for so doing.

In other aspects of the trust’s business some other changes were also made.  In 2016, at the heritage sites, under 16s were no longer free.  This seems to be a fairly reasonable act, and it surprises me that this was not the case previously.  This year a potentially more controversial change was enacted, when the concession price for 60+ was removed from all sites.  I don’t know about you, but we would find this a very difficult thing to do, and I wonder if the jury of public opinion has come to a decision about this just yet.

Bristol Culture is an as yet unreconstructed council run service who talked about their “pay what you think” ideas which started as mandatory charging for special exhibitions but after initial success this came a cropper on the back of unwise choice of a second exhibition where the conversion rate from general (free) visitors was less than 1%.   The change to PWYT (and better chosen subsequent exhibitions) led to average donation per exhibition visitor of 65 pence.  This method should not be construed as “pay nothing if you don’t want to”, although I did wonder how compulsion could be applied in this case. 

This reminds me of general admission to the New York Met “If you buy tickets at a Museum ticket counter, the amount you pay is up to you” where I once had a “discussion” with gate staff who were trying to enforce an entirely notional admission charge.  I do hope that Bristol’s idea succeeds.

Whilst this is in no way a comprehensive review of the AIM Conference, I hope that the topic that I chose was of interest to readers, and I would also like to thank MDNW for their travel and board bursary, which was the only reason that I could contemplate the trip.

Paul Meara, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

 

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