Archive for March, 2016

COMMENT: High-Street Strategies in Galleries and Museums

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

In times of adversity, funding cuts and tightly squeezed budgets, commerciality and sustainability are becoming words that many arts organisations are having to embrace within their organisation’s strategy.  For many, this is a hard path to tread as many curators and operation managers can feel that commercialisation of their organisation’s collection can undermine the fundamental reasons for which they preserve and present their collection.

These beliefs can dramatically inhibit the progress of such organisation’s retail operations and perhaps it is how the products can enhance the visitors experience and prolong their enjoyment following a visit as the need to engage and excite customers emotionally is a critical part of the buying process.

Taking all of these issues into account, in an article for Arts Professional, Corin Birchall shares his advice on what museums and galleries can learn from high street retail strategies to improve their commercial offer.

Below are some particularly relevant points from Birchall’s article:

“As high-street retailers grapple with the implications of ever-changing shopping habits, many have shifted their emphasis towards the customer experience … For museums and art galleries this may result in more thematic approaches to display. For example, products displayed in crates surrounded by packing materials to create the feeling of discovering priceless artefacts in the institution’s storage or archives.”

“Addressing buying pain is an important issue for the arts and culture sector. Buying pain is an inhibiting behaviour in which shoppers spend more cautiously due to a perception that a store doesn’t represent great value … It would be reasonable to assume that most customers would perceive art gallery shops to be expensive, compared to high street and supermarket retailers. In some instances this may be true but often it isn’t. Reducing buying pain and the perceived risk can be as simple as strategically placing a number of great special offers, price promises or examples of prices that beat the high street.”

“As retail stores will think very carefully about the layout of their fixtures and utilise ‘hotspots’ (areas with the most traffic and visibility), the arts can do the same. Ensure that the first hotspot features seasonal and topical products. This can link to an exhibit or show or reflect the time of year.”

“Regardless of size or budget, retail spaces can play a greater role in sustainability. Best practice surrounds us in many stores on the high street and online, so don’t be afraid to innovate and test new ideas or approaches. The retail landscape is transforming before our eyes and the arts and culture sector can trailblaze rather than play catch-up.”

To read the full article originally published on Arts Professional, Click Here.

COMMENT: Bring foreign tourists to museums with a great marketing strategy

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Over the past three years, the seven museums run by Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales has seen a 26% increase in overseas tourists visiting their venues, accounting for one in four of all visitors. In an article for The Guardian, June François, Head of Marketing for National Museum Wales divulged how she feels her and her team have managed to successfully driven up their numbers of foreign visitors.

Below are June’s top 5 tips:

1. Strong brand saliency …

Brand saliency defines your brand strength and can be improved through marketing activity to raise awareness. Done well, it develops a sense of familiarity even among irregular users.

2. A well-defined core proposition for the tourism market

Tourists are a priority audience in our marketing strategy … Marketing is about understanding the needs of your customers. Tourists have a curiosity about the place they are visiting and a desire to understand its history and culture. The museums in Wales tell those stories so well through their collections.

3. Seizing opportunities

Tourism is a heterogeneous market that encompasses independent visitors through to organised groups. You need to consider different marketing channels to ensure the best reach of each tourism segment.

4. Selling yourselves to your peers

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming the [tourism] sector has complete product knowledge of your visitor offer. They need reminding in the same way that the public does.

5. Further insights

Concentrate on the must-sees in your collection that tell a distinct story and give an interesting insight into the region.

To read the full article originally published in The Guardian, Click Here.

COMMENT: Arts fundraising – a job not just for fundraisers

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Back in February, the Guardian Cultural Professionals Network released an interesting article which brought together comments from four arts and culture professionals who are either directly or indirectly involved in fundraising for their organisation.  An interesting read, the article communicates how important it is for an organisations whole team to be involved in their fundraising strategy.

Below are some of the key points made by each of the professionals who contributed to the article:

Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation

“You are fundraising all the time … even if you’re not a fundraiser by role.  We all know fundraising is about building relationships. It’s about understanding who you’re talking with and about communicating compellingly, which means getting to know and being genuinely interested in people and organisations.”

Jane Marriott, Deputy Director, Hepworth Wakefield

“Fundraising is about inspiring a potential supporter, timing your “ask” perfectly and telling a compelling story about your organisation. It’s about being open and responsive to the motivations and passions of donors.”

Lucy Perman, Executive Director, Clean Break

“Remember that everyone is a fundraiser. Make sure that your whole team can tell the story – volunteers, trustees, partners, community, staff and other funders. You never know who they might meet, at a party, on a train, in a lift! Every chance encounter is an opportunity to spread your message.”

Aaron Wright, Programme Coordinator, Live Art Development Agency

“Consider how your fundraising strategies might be informed by your artistic programme. Does the way you’re fundraising match the ethos of your organisation? Think creatively and consider involving artists in your fundraising efforts.”

To read the full article originally published in The Guardian, Click Here.

FUNDING NEWS: ArtFund’s Moving Image Fund

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Launched back in September 2015 as a pilot scheme in response to the challenges faced by UK museums in building their collections of moving-image works. The first scheme of its kind in the UK, it aims to ensure that the most significant works of contemporary film and video art can be bought for public collections.  Just over six months after its launch, the scheme has been hailed a great success with several regional museums benefitting from financial support to expand their film collections.

The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester have jointly acquired Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves – a film made in tribute to the Chinese cockle-pickers who died at Morecambe Bay.

The Moving Image Fund’s pilot initiative has given £180,000 each to the Whitworth and Towner Art Gallery to collect film and video. Both institutions are in the process of making further acquisitions.

Isaac Julien said: “Ten Thousand Waves is a piece that began its life in the North of England and its homecoming is incredibly meaningful for me.”

The Towner Art Gallery and the Imperial War Museum also jointly purchased Omer Fast’s film 5,000 Feet is the Best with money from the Art Fund’s New Collecting Award Scheme.

Stephen Deuchar, the director of the Art Fund, said: “Given the pressure regional museums are under right now, it is imperative that we do all we can to help them continue investing in building up the national collections.”

NEWS: Museums Association elects three new board members

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

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The Museums Association’s members have elected three new members to the Museums Association’s board to begin in April.

They are Dhikshana Pering, the manager of young people’s programmes at the London Transport Museum; Heledd Fychan, the corporate affairs and advocacy manager for Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales; and Alex Bird, the sector development officer for Museum Development North West.

“I started my career in the museum and gallery sector in 2006 and have been lucky to work and build skills such as delivering, developing, managing and leading learning teams to success,” says Pering.

“From the start I was supported by my family to be able to take on unpaid volunteer and intern opportunities in the UK and abroad, and without this experience I would have not been able to realise the potential of the career I have carved.

“Diversity is something I have been aware of since I started working and for me is the crucial point I want to focus on in my career and as a board member for the MA.

“Institutions are delivering programmes that look to diversify audience make up and collection interpretation. But this is only one step, and as a collective we need to change how and why we recruit.

“Schemes that look for diversity have proved not to have the impact desired and as the last MA conference showed we all want the change.

“I hope to be able to work with the other members of the board and the membership to start to look at diversity from a different angle and direction. I feel privileged to be joining the board and excited about being able to be part of setting the direction for our sector.”

Fychan says: “At a time when museums are being pitted against health, education and social services it is crucial that we are able to articulate that museums play a crucial role in society.

“I believe that my advocacy background, and my experience of living and working in both Wales and Ireland, would be of value to the MA board and help support the progression of its Museums Change Lives campaign and the sector in each of the devolved member nations.”

Bird says: “I’m delighted to be joining the MA’s board and am looking forward to working with colleagues from across the country to support the Association throughout the next few years.

“My aim is to bring intelligence about the needs of the sector from front line staff through to trustees with a particular focus on training and development.

“I’m fully committed to developing the sector through the work the MA does to make it one that embraces new ways of working, is entrepreneurial and is armed with the tools to tackle the hardest of times.”

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, says: “We saw the largest ever number of members participating in this election, which I am delighted by, and I look forward to working with the new members of the board to take the MA’s vision forward.”

The new board members will replace Richard Sandell and Gaby Porter who are leaving in April.

David Liddiment, the creative director of the independent production company All3Media has been nominated as an appointed trustee, and will also join the board in April. Liddiment is also an associate of The Old Vic Theatre Company and a member of the BBC Trust.

NEWS: Manx National Heritage Produces Peel Castle Guide as part of Site series

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

MNH Digital Image Library

NWFed Members, Manx National Heritage, have been busy working with the team at Isle of Man Advertising & PR towards the design and production of a new series of guidebooks. The new series, funded by the Manx Museum and National Trust, are being researched by Manx National Heritage staff to help promote the island’s heritage and unlock the history behind its numerous heritage sites.

Having just launched the second book in the series, ‘Explore Peel Castle’, Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage explained a little more about the book:

Peel Castle is one of the most important historic and religious sites in the British Isles, attracting a significant number of resident and international visitors during the season. The guidebook will not only improve the visitor experience by offering a greater understanding of the site and its historical significance, but will also prove to be effective documentation of our research and understanding of the site itself.”

A 40-page book featuring a number of previously unpublished images and new illustrations by local artist Julia Ashby Smyth as well as images from the Manx National Heritage museum archives, the book is a detailed study not only of the medieval Castle itself, but also tells the story of the historic site of St Patrick’s Isle.  Also including details of several excavations which took place during the 20th century, the publication ‘lifts the lid’ on the Island’s history.

The further four books in the series will include a detailed guide to the collections of the Manx Museum, including some of its leading exhibits, as well as the four Castletown sites (Castle Rushen, Old Grammar School, Old House of Keys and the Nautical Museum, the island’s Southern sites (including Cregneash and Rushen Abbey) and the Grove Museum, Ramsey.

Explore Peel Castle, priced at £5.95, can be ordered online at and is available from all MNH retail sites, including the House of Manannan and Manx Museum.