First of all thank you to Marcus Chase, Catherine Pank and Michael Whitworth for their excellent presentations on the challenges and opportunities of corporate events for museums and galleries. Their  sincere account of how things are planned and executed and their responses to the delegates’ questions has made the event a success.

The teams at Manchester Art Galleries and Manchester Museum may be well experienced and resourced for the job but I could not stop thinking that it must a lot easier if you are working for a smaller institution as the nature of your operations and offer will be much simpler. Here are some tips from the day:

  • Clarify the reasons why you are embarking on commercial operations and get the organisational buy in.
  • If you are a public institution with a priority to public access and education, do not compromise that role.  Work out a healthy balance.
  • Start small, there is no point being over ambitious and stretching yourself too thin on the ground.
  • Promote your unique selling point: fabulous art, impressive and historical buildings, gardens, quirky collections, temporary exhibitions.
  • Think of how you may want to use different venues ( some more suitable for weddings, and other for product launches ).
  • Work as a team with your collections specialists.
  • If you intend to use actual gallery spaces give careful consideration to pest management.
  • Plan well your organisational calendar, especially if you are a complex institution with many operations.
  • Think of all the different spaces you could be using ( hall, galleries etc ) and go for different experiences and packages.
  • Slice your building, be prepared to make different offers to clients.
  • Number crunching and working out your profit is the mort important element in planning your commercial operations.
  • Be brave: stop doing things that are not making you any money.
  • Refresh your offer and your catering spaces, introduce appropriate collections in trading areas to have a more original feeling.
  • Work with florists, light technicians that can help you dress up your spaces.
  • For weddings your offer may include as many things as you can cover as possible to make it attractive to potential customers.

Marcus,Catherine and Michael believe that having support networks for commercial operations in the region is extremely important and we are hoping to tap onto their expertise in the future for an event on perhaps catering and museum shops. It’s events like this that sum up the creativity and energy of our sector!