Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

NEWS: Dates of Engage’s Children’s Art Week 2019 Announced

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Deadline for registration to participate: late May (exact date not given)

This year Children’s Art Week will take place from Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 June, with the kind support of the Arts Society. Every year Engage invites schools, galleries, museums and community groups to devise and register visual arts events for children and families over a week in June. These activities give children and young people, together with their teachers, parents and carers – the opportunity to get involved with a very broad range of practical art activities with artists and makers.

Organisers receive support from Engage to devise, run and publicise their events. Through evaluation Engage has learned that Children’s Art Week is a valuable opportunity for venues to reach out to new visitors and take part in a national event. The first 40 venues to register will be offered £50 grant towards costs. Participating venues will receive support to run, publicise and brand their events, including stickers, logos and press release templates.

For further details and to register your your venue, Click Here.

MEMBER EVENT: Kirkby Gallery – Anthony Ratcliffe Printmaking Workshops

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: 4, 6 and 7 June, and the 6, 8 and 9 August, 10am – 3.30pm

Where: Kirkby Gallery

How Much: £30.00 including materials

Led by artist Anthony Ratcliffe, these one day printmaking workshops will give participants the opportunity to learn how to make a woodcut and produce a mounted print to take home – ideal for beginners and those with some experience. Anthony is now a full time printmaker after many years lecturing at Manchester School of Art, and is a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, and Leeds Fine Artists. He has prints in many public and private collections including The British Council, the Parliamentary Art Collection, Manchester Airport PLC, Manchester Royal Infirmary and MMU Special Collections.

To book a place on one of the workshops, please contact Tina Ball (, 0151 443 4936).

WORKSHOP: Collections Trust – Collections Management Standard

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: Friday 14 June 2019, 10.00am – 4.00pm

Where: Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston

How Much: Free

The collections management standard (Spectrum 5.0) was launched in September 2017 following extensive consultation with the museum sector. This session, led by Sarah Brown (Collections Trust), will focus on the documentation and information required for accountability and the Museum Accreditation standard requirement 5.2.

Together, participants will review the latest Spectrum 5.0 primary procedures, with opportunities to reflect on how they are approached by your organisation and develop actions for improvement. Sarah will also highlight the key changes to the standard. Delegates will be encouraged to participate through discussions and activities, and there will be plenty of opportunity for questions throughout.

For further details, and information on how to book, Click Here.

WORKSHOP: Collections Trust – Documentation Procedural Manuals

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: 25 April 2019, 10.00 – 1.00pm

Where: Lancashire Conservation Studios, Preston

How Much: Free

A documentation procedural manual is an evolving series of clear instructions to standardise the capture, recording, safekeeping and use of information about museum collections. Part of the Collections Trust’s work to support the Accredited Museums scheme in the North West, this workshop will describe the documentation system used in a particular museum and communicate that system to all staff and volunteers. It is a requirement of the Museum Accreditation Scheme that Accredited museums have a documentation procedural manual in place.

This workshop will be led by Sarah Brown (Collections Trust), and will explore what makes a good manual, putting participant’s manuals to the test and identifying how they might be improved.

To book a place, Click Here.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Lancashire County Council, Finds Liaison Officer

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

What: Finds Liaison Officer

Where: Lancashire County Council Museums Headquarters, Preston (requires travel around Lancashire)

Salary: £20,541 – £23,866 per annum (pro rata)

Contract: Part time, 18.5 hours a week (fixed-term until March 2020)

Deadline:  7 April 2019

Lancashire County Council is currently looking for someone to join its team as a Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), working across a number of venues and with members of the public, metal detector users and colleagues in the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The role is key to the effective running of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) which ensures that the Treasure Act is adhered to and fully observed. The FLO’s primary objectives are to educate and inform people regarding the Treasure Act; encourage the recognition of the archaeological importance of finds and responsible metal detector use; actively collect and upload finds data as part of the national PAS, and adding to Lancashire County Council’s knowledge of the past and making it readily accessible to the public.

For a full job description and person specification, along with details of how to apply, Click Here.

CONFERENCE: Rewire – Culture, Audiences and You

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: 9 – 11 July 2019

Where: Sage Gateshead, Newcastle

How Much: £418.00 – £608.00

Join the Arts Marketing Association for the 2019 Conference and be inspired, share challenges, create new connections and learn new ways of doing things. Delve deep into what it means to connect and realise stronger relationships with audiences, exploring what connection really means for audiences, partners and colleagues to ensure your organisation thrives.

AMA understand that the world is changing quickly, so now’s your chance to step away from the day-to-day and rewire your thinking about your relationships with audiences. What does the future hold for society, our sector, our audiences and our organisations? How can we make the  most of these opportunities? If there are challenges ahead, what tools do we need in order to be resilient?

Join hundreds of other cultural professionals over two and half days of keynotes, breakout sessions, socials and plenty of networking opportunities.

For details of the full programme and how to book your place, Click Here.

CONFERENCE: Amazing Spaces – New Thinking on Exhibition Design

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: 30 April, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Where: Wellcome Collection, London

How Much: £55.00 – £195.00

With fast advances in technology approaches to exhibition design are changing. A Museums Association’s one-day conference, Amazing Spaces will examine the ever-increasing focus on visitor experience, and the rise of co-curation and co-design. But how can we make use of these advances to tell the best stories possible? The conference will bring together designers, curators and engagement facilitators to discuss how exhibition design is developing, and hear how those behind current design projects have made the most of these opportunities.

Aimed at anyone involved in creating permanent or temporary displays and exhibitions, the day presents new ideas, provoke discussion, and allow delegates to build new relationships.

For further details on speakers, and how to book your place, Click Here

TENDER OPPORTUNITY: Tender Opportunity: Revealing Wigan Archives – Heritage Exhibition and Interpretation

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Deadline for Applications: 8 April 2019, 5.00pm

Contract value: £320,500

Wigan Council has release details of a contract to work with the Council’s Archives and Local Studies service on the Revealing Wigan Archives Project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project will develop a modern, vibrant and exciting new public Archive Service for the Borough of Wigan and a dedicated exhibition space for the people of Leigh and its surrounding communities.

Working within the existing structure of Leigh Town Hall – a Grade II listed structure – the project will create new permanent and temporary exhibition spaces to display the Borough’s Archive and Museum collections. These new spaces will be co-curated with a wide range of stakeholders including local people, volunteers, schools and other partners. The new exhibition and interpretation will reflect the changing nature of our Archives and Museums, broaden our audiences and future-proof our services.

This project forms part of a wider scheme of work to refurbish in full the Leigh Town Hall building and create a new archive facility within the building, including a new public search room, collection strong rooms, document conservation area and café space. The full Town Hall scheme will create and make ready the new exhibition spaces for the appointed exhibition and interpretation contractor to work within. The contractor must co-ordinate with the main building project and work within the limitations of designing for and installation in a listed and multi-tenanted occupied building hosting a range of Council teams and services.

As part of this major redevelopment, Wigan Council are seeking a Contractor to undertake all design and fit-out for the new exhibition spaces and site interpretation including, but not limited to, all interpretation, graphic design and production, display cases, case layouts, audio-visual interpretation, gallery lighting, interactive development and build, object mounting, and installation and snagging. The Contractor will also undertake public consultation with a range of stakeholders as part of the exhibition development and design process. The exhibition is scheduled to be open to public access in Spring 2020.

To read the full invitation to tender, Click Here.

FUNDING: The Rayne Foundation

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

For over fifty years The Rayne Foundation has given to many different causes and organisations.  Founded by Lord Rayne (1918-2003) who made great efforts to ensure the Rayne Foundation was engaged with the needs of society, a mission still upheld today.

Always looking for creative ways of tackling entrenched social issues through the arts, health, wellbeing, and education, the Foundation supports projects that can be replicated and led by people with vision. They particularly welcome applications addressing their three areas of special interest: young people’s mental health, art as a tool to achieve social change, and improved quality of life for carers and older people.

Aiming to enlarge sympathies through increasing tolerance and understanding, to reduce exclusion and conflict, to bring people together for the good of society, and ultimately to help create a more comprehending and cohesive world, the Foundation encourage inspiring individuals and organisations who can build bridges within our complex world to apply.

To find out more about the Foundation’s work and how to make an application, Click Here

NEWS: British Museum Call for Partners for Knowledge Exchange 2019

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Deadline for Applications: Thursday 28 March 2019

The British Museum is seeking five new partner museums to participate in its annual Knowledge Exchange programme for 2019. The programme is part of the wide-ranging National Programmes at the British Museum,which partners with c.250 UK organisations a year through single-object Spotlight tours, touring exhibitions, partnership galleries, short-and long-term loans, training and skills development initiatives. Generously supported by the Vivmar Foundation, the Knowledge Exchange programme offers the opportunity of a fully funded and co-ordinated five-day professional exchange between paid staff, in any role, at five selected partner museums and the British Museum.

For further information on the programme, Click Here.

To discuss the opportunity further and submit an expression of interest, contact: Georgia Mallin, Knowledge Share Programme Manager ( – 020 7323 8266).

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Arts Marketing Association’s Copywriting Day

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: Thursday 28 March, 10.00am – 4.30pm

Where: The Tetley, Leeds

How Much: £90.00 – £262.80

When it comes to creating copy to entice audiences, the struggle is real. How do you remain authentic when you want to win people over? How do you sound breezy with one eye fixed on your bottom line? How do you keep your copy light and friendly when you also need to sell tickets?

AMA’s Copywriting Day 2019 — putting words in their place, is a day dedicated to exploring how to keep your copy fresh. You’ll learn how to create simple and honest comms alongside theories such as nudge psychology. Delve into creative copy that is cross-functional for print and online platforms. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each tweet. Keep things simple and effective.

For a full programme and details on how to book your place, Click Here

MEMBER EVENT: Knowsley Culture’s Affordable Art Auction

Sunday, March 17th, 2019


When: Thursday 9 May, 5.00pm – 8.00pm

Where: Kirkby Gallery

Currently showing in Kirkby Gallery is the 18th Annual Knowsley Open Art Exhibition, with over 250 creative works from local artists of all ages who live, work, study or volunteer in Knowsley. To make this year’s exhibition all the more exciting, the artworks will be sold at a live auction conducted by celebrity auctioneer Adam Partridge, with a percentage of the proceeds going towards the Friends of Kirkby Gallery and Prescot Museum to support their work. A fun opportunity to purchase an original artwork from the auction, which also features work donated by our artist friends including Willy Russell, Mike Kirby, Philip Garrett, Gill Cowley, Anthony Ratcliffe, and Paul Romano – to name but a few!
An RSVP only event, please contact Tina Ball (0151 443 5617 / 4936, to book your place. 

SEMINAR: Touring Exhibition Group’s Annual Marketplace Seminar

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Where: Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

When: Thursday 2 and Friday 3 May

How Much: £35.00 – £45.00

Join colleagues nationwide at the TEG Marketplace and Pre-Marketplace Seminar for one or two days of networking and inspiration at the UK’s principal touring and partnership exhibitions networking event.

Day One

The first day of this year’s seminar will explore how to commission creative content, graphic design and exhibition build and infrastructure to tour. It will look at the imaginative, practical and contractual steps involved in commissioning artists, writers, poets and other creatives, as well as graphic and exhibition designers, to help you get the most out of these relationships. Speakers will include: Brian Cass, Senior Curator Hayward Touring, Matt Windle, Poetry with a Punch (Birmingham Poet Laureate), Jessica Litherland, Visual Arts and Media Producer, MAC, Emma Daker, Exhibitions and Project Development Manager, Craftspace, and Juneau Projects.

Day Two

TEG’s annual Marketplace is a unique opportunity for organisations developing or supporting the development of touring and partnership exhibitions to network, discuss projects and exchange ideas.

For details of the full programme and how to book your place, Click Here

WORKSHOP: Touring Exhibitions Group – Preparing to Borrow

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

When: Wednesday 5 June, 10.00am – 4.30pm

Where: Merseyside Maritime Museum

How Much: £25.00 – £35.00

Organised by the Touring Exhibitions Group, this workshops will support participants to acquire the knowledge and confidence to make an application to borrow an object or exhibition.

An interactive session, based on problem solving and discussion, the workshop will cover topics including: the benefits of borrowing; researching suitable objects and exhibitions for loan and hire; making a case to borrow; communicating with lenders; loan applications; fees and contracts; sources of funding; scheduling; transportation; facilities reports; Government Indemnity and commercial insurance; security; and emergency planning.

The workshop will be  delivered by a TEG trainer, William Brown, National Security Advisor, Carol Warner, Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) Manager, and a member of Art Fund’s team. The training encourages networking, and provides the opportunity to meet colleagues from other organisations who are looking to borrow and find partners.

For further information on the workshop and its programme and details of how to book, Click Here.

FUNDING: Marsh Christian Trust

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Founded in 1981 by its current Chairman, Mr Brian Marsh OBE, with the aim to create a sustainable way to give something back to society, by supporting the organisations and people who are making a difference, as best he could. From the outset the Trust has aimed to create long-standing relationships with the organisations it supports and partners through both its principle areas of work; the Grants Programme and the Awards Scheme.

The Trust focuses on providing funding which could help small organisations pay for various running costs – such as volunteer expenses, training days, equipment maintenance and other core outgoings – and supports around 300 charities every year through the Grants Programme and gives over 80 different Awards to individuals and groups from across the charity sector, who make a difference to a cause that they believe in.

Grants are unrestricted and range from £250-£4,000, with new applications at the lower end of this scale. Applications are considered on the basis of the organisation’s financial position, performance against charitable aims and objectives and the ratio of voluntary income against fundraising expenses.

The Trust aims to build long-standing relationships with successful applicants and, subject to an annual review, continue its support over time.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Art Fund New Collecting Awards

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

Deadline for applications – 24 April 2019

Through the New Collecting Awards we aim to support the next generation of curatorial leaders across the UK. Applications are accepted from curators in the early stages of their career, or who have had limited opportunities to collect and who are employed by, or working in partnership with, museums and galleries that hold at least provisional accreditation.

The awards offer 100% funding for focused collecting projects, enabling curators to expand museum and gallery collections into exciting new areas or deepen existing holdings in imaginative ways.

Awardees also receive a generous funding allocation for research, travel and training, plus the support of a mentor, Art Fund staff and our trustees.

To find out more about the Award and how to apply, Click Here.

WORKSHOP: Budgeting and Fundraising for work with Young People in the Arts and Cultural Sector

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

When: Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 March 2019,

Where: Yorkshire Dance, 3 St Peter’s Square, Leeds LS9 8AH

How Much: £150 (includes lunch and refreshments)

This practical two day course is designed to help you identify, and apply for, funding for your creative and cultural projects. Participants will be taken through all the steps involved in successful fundraising, from putting together realistic project budgets and identifying key income and expenditure considerations, to finding relevant funding sources and developing relationships with funders. You will leave the day with practical resources to help find funding, and gain top tips to enable you to write effective and successful bids that meet the requirements of individual funding bodies.

For further information about the course and the trainer, Click Here.


FUNDING: The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Deadline for application submission: 1 April 2019 and 1 October 2019

The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust offers grants for the conservation and preservation of manuscripts and archives.  Since the NMCT was founded in 1990 it has awarded grants of over £3m, which have enabled the conservation of hundreds of musical, literary, architectural and other vital historical documents.

NMCT welcome applications from non-national institutions such as county record offices, museums, university archives/special collections, cathedral archives and libraries, as well as owners of manuscripts that are exempt from capital taxation or owned by a charitable trust. Their grants can cover conservation, binding and other preservation measures, including digitisation (providing it is part of a wider conservation project).  The significance of the collection or items to be conserved, as well as the proposed conservation treatment, are carefully reviewed by Trustees when making their decisions.

NMCT are particularly interested in projects that have a training element (e.g. internship, enhancing skills of experienced conservators, later career conservators passing on their knowledge by supervising a younger conservator etc.).

For further details and information on making an application, Click Here.

FUNDING: The Fore – Summer Applications

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Summer 2019 Registration Opens: 1 April  2019, 10.00am

Application Deadline for Registered Organisations: 29 April 2019

Funding Decisions Announced: 19th July 2019

A Big Lottery Fund partner, The Fore is the only open-access funder in the UK offering development funding and strategic support to early-stage charities and social enterprises.

The Fore are proud to be a funder without lengthy forms or restrictive criteria, and work to recognise you, the applicant, as the expert in your own field. Their application process simply asks you to tell them more about who you are, what you need and how their funding would enable you to take a step forward in your operations. Once an introduction is made, The Fore match successful applicants with friendly professional support – ongoing mentoring, strategic advice, governance support or other assistance.

Also committed to helping organisations learn, they give feedback to unsuccessful candidates and offer access to regular, high quality training and networking events.

To find out more about The Fore, and to start a conversation, Click Here.

NEWS: New-look National Lottery Heritage Fund unveils plans for the next five years

Monday, February 18th, 2019

A major decentralisation of decision-making across the whole of the UK is at the heart of new plans to distribute more than £1 Billion of National Lottery money to the UK’s heritage over the next five years which will see decisions on around 80% of all funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (previously the Heritage Lottery Fund), made in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and three new English areas.

In addition, the new look National Lottery Heritage Fund will have a major focus on several new areas including: nature, communities, and on ensuring everyone is able to enjoy heritage; new models of investment, moving beyond grants to include loans and partnerships; more support for commercial, sustainable approaches to tackling heritage that’s in danger of being lost; investment and support to help heritage organisations to be more financially sustainable; a requirement for every heritage project that receives funding to be environmentally friendly; greater engagement and support to help 13 deprived communities that have in the past been less successful securing funding; and continued support for large-scale, iconic projects over £5million

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Over the past 25 years, money raised by people who buy National Lottery tickets has profoundly changed how we view and engage with the UK’s exceptionally varied heritage. By putting people at its heart, it has helped our wonderful buildings, iconic landscapes, cultural memories and traditions and native species not just survive, but thrive.

“Over the next five years, The National Lottery Heritage Fund will inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage, distributing more than £1bn. So we will be making more decisions on funding locally and focusing on the heritage that really matters to people, creating jobs, bringing economic prosperity and improving people’s lives right across the UK.”

To find out more and for details on how to apply, Click Here.

CONFERENCE: Association of Independent Museums National Conference 2019

Monday, February 18th, 2019

When: 20 – 22 June 2019

Where: The National Civil War Centre, Newark

How Much: £35.00 – £342.00

The AIM National Conference 2019 will offer delegates fresh ideas on developing a successful destination. It will look at creative place making, becoming a great destination for your community, understanding your audiences, tips for creating an excellent visitor experience and case studies on how to attract groups to your museum and making your shop or café into a desirable destination amongst many more.

The conference will also highlight the latest updates in charity finance and law from the Charity Finance Group and Farrer & Co, plus we will be exploring how AIM members are using the ‘Open Up: Museums for everyone’ resources to boost and diversify their visitor and volunteer numbers. To help your museum get ahead, there will be practical advice and useful case studies from AIM Hallmarks funded projects.

AIM Conference always provides an ideal occasion for networking and sharing ideas with colleagues from across the sector and there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with fellow delegates, speakers, AIM Suppliers and exhibitors.

For further information on the conference, a full event itinerary and to book your tickets, Click Here.

NEWS: Entries open for the Association for Heritage Interpretation Awards 2019

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Deadline for applications: 30 April 2019

The Association for Heritage Interpretation’s Discover Heritage Awards celebrate and recognise excellence in cultural and natural heritage interpretation in the UK and Ireland.

Shining a spotlight on great interpretation from museums and historic houses to wildlife reserves and events. They are the only Awards for all types of interpretation in the UK and Ireland to be judged by interpreters. The Awards provide national recognition and publicity for winning and shortlisted sites and feedback on all entries.

There are five Awards categories you can choose to enter:

·       Museums and historic properties/sites

·       Outdoors – Urban and Rural

·       Visitor and interpretation centres

·       Volunteer and Community Projects

·       Events and Activities

For details on how to enter your project, exhibition or event and an application form, Click Here.

FUNDING: Arts Council England Lottery Project Grants

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Arts Council England are still accepting applications for their Lottery Project Grants Programme for arts, museums and libraries projects and you can apply for any amount from £1,000 to £100,000. Project Grants are ACE’s new open access programme for arts, museums and libraries projects, funded by the National Lottery, and will support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations.

Before starting an application, ACE recommends contacting your local Relationship Manager for Museums: Penny Thompson ( and Nikola Burdon (

For full details on eligibility, how to apply, and the funding guidance, visit ACE’s website.

CONFERENCE: Museums Association, Future of Museums – Learning and Engagement

Monday, February 18th, 2019

When: 27 March 2019

Where: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

How Much: Museums Association members, £55.00 – £125.00, non-members, £195.00

This one-day conference will look at the latest understanding of how adults and children learn, examine historical perspectives on the pedagogical role of museums and assess how museum learning might work in the future.

Twenty years after the publication of the influential A Common Wealth: Museums in the Learning Age, how has museum learning developed and how are museums responding to demographic, economic and societal change? How can museums reach out to their communities most effectively given this context?

Speakers include:

Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland
Stephen Allen, Head of Learning and Programmes, National Museums Scotland
David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museums Wales
Sharon Heal, Director, Museums Association
Dhikshana Pering, Young People’s Producer, London Borough of Culture 2020
Mark O’Neill, Museum Consultant
Colleen Watters, Head of Learning and Partnerships, Ulster Museum
Dominique Bouchard, Head of Learning and Interpretation, English Heritage
Wendy Gallagher, Head of Learning and Engagement, Manchester Museum
Siobhan McConnachie, Head of Education, National Galleries Scotland

To find out more or to book a place, Click Here

WORKSHOP: Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in the Arts and Cultural Sector

Monday, February 18th, 2019

When: 13 June 2019, 10.00am – 4.15pm

Where: HOME, Manchester

How Much: £150.00 – includes lunch and a certificate of attendance

This new course from Artswork has been designed for individuals and organisations looking to update their understanding of safeguarding legislation and best practice, specifically when working with vulnerable adults in the creative, cultural and heritage sectors. You will explore what is meant by the term ‘vulnerable adult’ in the context of your work and will develop approaches for recognising and responding to the different types of abuse associated with adults at risk.

This engaging course will look at sector specific case studies and examples and will offer practical advice and tools to help you develop sensible structures and build confidence around issues relating to working with vulnerable adults. You will spend some focused time exploring the particular challenges facing young adults (age 18-30).

For further information or to book a place, Click Here.

NEWS: Applications Open – Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Deadline: Tuesday 6 February 2019

Has your museum got what it takes to win Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019?

If you would like to make an application, it is recommended that you first read the information pack carefully before connecting with Emma Coleman –, 020 7225 4822 – to discuss your application.

NEWS: Alistair Hudson appointed as Director for Manchester Art Gallery and The University of Manchester’s Whitworth

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

The University of Manchester and Manchester City Council have today announced that Alistair Hudson, currently Director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), will be the new Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth.

Alistair will take up his role in the New Year. He succeeds Maria Balshaw at the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery following her appointment as Director of Tate earlier this year.

He brings with him a wealth of experience at the forefront of the culture sector and a strong record of championing art as a tool for social change and education. During the last three years as Director at mima, he set out the institution’s vision as a ‘Useful Museum’, successfully engaging its local communities and responding to the town’s industrial heritage, as well as placing it amongst the most prestigious galleries in the UK.

Alistair began his career at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (1994-2000), before joining The Government Art Collection (2000-04) where, as Projects Curator, he devised a public art strategy for the new Home Office building with Liam Gillick.

As Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts (2004-14) in the Lake District, he helped the institution gain critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation.

Outside of these roles he is also Chair of Culture Forum North, an open network of partnerships between higher education and the cultural sector across the North, and co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera. He was a 2015 jury member for the Turner Prize.

Alistair said: “I am completely thrilled to be taking up this post in Manchester. The city’s cultural scene is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country and Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth are at the heart of this. Maria Balshaw and her teams have established both institutions at the forefront of the democratisation of art, working for all of society. I look forward to driving this mission forward and working across the region in projects that have real impact in people’s lives.”

The People’s History Museum Wins Family Friendly Museum Award 2017

Monday, October 9th, 2017

The Family Friendly Museum Award is the biggest museum award in Britain and the only award where families pick the winner. Earlier this year we received over 700 nominations from families and museums that were whittled down to a shortlist of ten. These were then road-tested by our family judges against the eight points in the Kids in Museums Mini Manifesto.

Relaunched in 2010 after a major refurbishment programme and attracting over 100,000 visitors per year, the People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy. Families were incredibly impressed with how the museum combined local subjects such as the Peterloo Massacre with exhibits about broader themes in social and political history right up to the present day.

With a collection of 1,500 objects celebrating the history of working people and a unique archive, the People’s History Museum stood out among this year’s shortlisted museums for listening to its family audience and making difficult subjects exciting and accessible. The recent exhibition, Never Going Underground: the Fight for LGBT+ Rights was curated with the local LGBT+ community with the aim of being family friendly and included special family packs. This exhibition was a highlight for many of our family judges. As one said, The museum has very good ideas about how to deal with a difficult subject.

Here’s why one family thought their local museum should win:
We very much felt like they’d tried very hard to make the whole thing very inclusive – a lot of the exhibits echo diversity and inclusion

The burgeoning relationship between the Harris and UCLan

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston has a long track record of partnership working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). During the last twenty years this has taken many forms from placements and paid internships for students to the development of joint artistic programmes between the two organisations.

In Certain Places was set up in 2003 as a joint initiative between the Harris and UCLan to explore place-making in Preston in the context of the regeneration plans for the city. ICP created numerous popular art interventions around the city, from Jeppe Hein’s interactive fountain sculpture Appearing Rooms on the Flag Market in 2006, to the Harris Flights, which created a flight of steps leading up to the Harris balcony as the setting for a programme of performances through the summer of 2013.

Harris staff have regularly been involved in the delivery of a variety of courses at the University, including Marketing, Events, History, Art, Fashion and Architecture. Key partnerships have developed with Art and Fashion lecturers, leading to exhibitions featuring both students’ and academics’ work, and with the UCLan-led Preston History Network, which brings together local historical organisations to promote events such as the Guild 2012 and Heritage Open Days.

In 2014 a piece of research was commissioned to scope existing links and the potential for future joint-working. This identified barriers such as information sharing and different working patterns through the year, and led to the development of new contacts to overcome these.

Now however Preston is in the process of major regeneration and both the Harris and UCLan are in a period of massive change. The Harris needs to reposition itself if it is to keep pace with the redevelopment going on around it in the city centre, and to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in Preston and Lancashire. The Re-Imagining the Harris programme was set up in 2015, and has developed an innovative vision which will shape its repositioning. This envisages the Harris as the cultural and community hub for Preston. A community led organisation that acts as the civic focal point for the city centre, constantly animated with creativity at the core of everything it does.

UCLan has grown at a rapid rate, it is now the 8th biggest University in the country, with more than 38,000 students with campuses across Lancashire, and in China. However it recognises Preston as its home, and has developed a masterplan which will see £200 million of investment in the city campus during the next ten years. This campus sits on the edge of the city centre and the masterplan is integral to the wider regeneration of Preston.

A vibrant Preston is key to realising UClan’s ambitions, in order to attract prospective students and entertain existing ones. The University is keen to develop stronger and more tangible links to the city centre to contribute to the animation of the city, and to create stronger links with existing communities across Preston. The Harris provides the perfect partner for the University in developing this city centre presence, and it is this that has driven recent moves to a more co- ordinated and strategic partnership between the two institutions; as well as a wider recognition that the ambitions of the Harris and UCLan are inextricably intertwined.

Therefore the relationship between the Harris and UCLan is moving to a different level. A member of UCLan’s executive team (the Pro Vice Chancellor of External Relations) will sit on the Project Board for the Re-Imagining the Harris project. The University will play a pivotal role in shaping the repositioning of the Harris. In the short to medium term the two organisations are working together to ensure that UCLan adds significant value to the day to day running of the Harris, and has a tangible presence in the building.

The best example of this is the recent development and installation of a Makerspace in the Harris. The idea emerged after discussions between senior staff in the two organisations and was driven by the desire at the Harris to put creativity and making more at the core of what the building does, alongside the expectation at UCLan (and particularly at their Media Innovation studio) that they needed to be engaging more proactively with the hardest to reach audiences in Preston.

Staff from the two organisations worked closely together with additional support for the school of architecture at the University in the early development
of the Makerspace. Since it opened in the autumn of 2016, the programme has been varied, with Harris and UCLan staff, alongside members of the local community and artists, offering a wide opportunity to make and create, from costume making to coding and from drawing to drones.

There are plenty of other examples of the Harris and UCLan working together to deliver the new vision for the Harris, and the wider ambitions of the University. The Heritage Network at UCLan has recently organised a series of sold out talks at the Harris, reinforcing the message that the building is a centre for discussion and debate. The Harris will also host the University’s graduation show and related events in early summer that will animate the building, and enable the people of Preston and Lancashire to appreciate the potential of the thousands of students the city hosts.

So in recent years the partnership between the Harris and UCLan has matured, driven by the regeneration of the city and the challenging environment the two organisations find themselves operating in. The relationship, which had originated in a mutual shared appreciation of learning, heritage and the arts, is now evolving into a robust partnership where each organisation is becoming a key contributor to the other’s wider ambitions.
Jon Finch, Re-imagining the Harris Project Leader

Artists selected for the Meeting Point2 project with museums and heritage sites in the Northt

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

10 artists have been selected to work in partnership with museums in the North of England, each creating a new piece of work in response to the museum and its collections.

The artists, who have been commissioned through the Meeting Point2 project, will work with venues ranging from a restored historic open-pan salt making site to an excavated monastic site dating back to the 12th century.

The 10 artists and museums are:

Artist                                                     Museum

Matt Stokes                                           Hexham Old Gaol, Northumberland

Owl Project                                            Prescot Museum, Knowsley

Brass Art                                                Chetham’s Library, Manchester

David Appleyard                                     Norton Priory, Cheshire

Serena Partridge                                    Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, Lancashire

Magnus Quaife                                       Portland Basin Museum, Ashton-under-Lyne

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan         Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre

Lynn Setterington                                   Brontë Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire

Stephen Dixon and Alison Welsh           Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees

Martin Hylton                                          Lion Salt Works, Cheshire

The Meeting Point2 project, which is funded through the Arts Council England’s Resilience Fund, aims to equip museums with the knowledge and skills to commission work from artists again in the future, as well as presenting new works in unexpected places.

The selected artists are known for work ranging from fusions of sculpture and sound art, to textile works and film.

Sheffield-based artist David Appleyard, who will be working in partnership with Norton Priory Museum, said: “There is something very special about Norton Priory Museum. My research visits left me literally spellbound so I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in their MeetingPoint2 project. The project offers a rare opportunity to work with a very dedicated team in a place steeped in 900 years of history.”

Brass Art, who will be working with Chetham’s Library in Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to work with Chetham’s Library. The enthusiasm of the staff there is infectious; we’re looking forward to working with them closely to bring our collaborative practice and aspects of their fascinating collection together.”

Martin Hylton, who will work with Lion Salt Works in Cheshire, said: “I am excited to have been selected to create a newly commissioned piece in response to the Lion Salt Works. I am looking forward to working with the team, and local young dancers to realise this very exciting project.”

The 10 selected artists will create their commissions during 2017.

The programme builds on a successful pilot which took place in 2016 and saw artists working with museums across the North East and Yorkshire.

More details are available at