Inside Museums – new SHARE programme

Inside Museums – new SHARE programme


Some of the Inside Museums participants exploring Nail Theory.


Networking on Steroids – Fraser Hale

‘Join the “Inside Museums” training course’, they said. ‘Come and learn more about why, what, and how museums are, they said. What they could have added was ‘by the way you’ll meet a dozen new, highly engaged, inquisitive and intelligent people who will gladly share their experiences, perspectives and insights with you while you learn together.’    Who wouldn’t want to do that?!

‘Inside Museums’ – led by Nick Winterbotham, and impeccably organised by SHARE Museums East, was an interactive and thought-provoking guided learning exercise. The two days included museum visits, object handling, group discussions, and plenty of time to network with both the students and the course leaders. What it did not contain was one single moment that wasn’t fun, interesting and useful.

When you hear the call to attend a SHARE event – heed it, you will not be disappointed!

What is a museum anyway? – Catherine Rizzo

Never having written a blog before in my life, and subtly being encouraged to produce one for SHARE Museums East, I had to ashamedly consult the omniscient ‘Google’ to find the answer to ‘What is a blog anyway?’.

The nature of queries, however, aptly resounds with the questions raised in the recent course run by SHARE – ‘Inside Museums: Your Part in Their Future’. The essence of the course encouraged participants to reflect on the overarching idea of ‘What is a museum anyway?’ What is their purpose? Why bother? Are they still relevant? Questions like this that make you stop and contemplate are we, in the museum sector, making a difference to people’s lives? To society?

In the day to day hustle and bustle of museum life, it can be easy to forget to stop and reflect on the purpose of museums. Certainly, changing a toilet seat for the second time in a week because the visitors have managed – yet again – to somehow work the hinges loose can, occasionally, make you wonder why you changed career and chose to work in a museum. Or, spending too much time worrying that your museum must be the only one that seems to be having issues with money, staff, visitor numbers etc. can certainly take one’s eye off the big picture.

Furthermore, perhaps it is useful to ask ourselves: ‘How do we keep ourselves challenged and inspired in our work?’ It is easy to forget how important and valuable our own continuing professional development is to keeping that vision for our museums and the narratives we tell alive.

This is why it is important to have courses such as this to be able to connect with others in order to help us think creatively and approach our own museums with a fresh perspective. The value of ‘Inside Museums: Your Part in Their Future’ is that opportunity to connect, share, collaborate with other creative thinkers and practitioners whether they be trustees, front of house members, curators, volunteers etc. This way we can create a ‘supermind’ – a collective understanding of what makes a great museum – museums which showcase the wonder of collections and exhibitions and inspire curiosity.

Maybe our part in the future of museums is to continue to discover new ways of connecting and collaborating for the success of all.

Inside Museums – Chris Strang

We have just attended Share Museum East’s two-day training programme ‘Inside Museums’, a fascinating and thought-provoking interactive course on customer engagement in museums and galleries.

The course treats you to great insights, guest speakers, practical sessions, fun challenges and visits to museums, while providing ample opportunity for collaboration between the participants.  Our participant group comprised enthusiastic and creative trustees, volunteers and interpretation staff who all brought interesting perspectives from their own museum experience.

The broad agenda covers the management of museums and exhibitions, collections interpretation and exhibition, customer engagement and inclusion, and how to keep the offering relevant for today’s audience.

The course is amiably and expertly led by the impressive Dr Nick Winterbotham, whose deep knowledge of museums really helps bring to life discussions on how to keep exhibitions and story-telling relevant for changing expectations.

I have found the SHARE Museums East training to be of a consistently high standard: courses such as this are worth committing the time to attend and will definitely help your exhibition strategy.

Give it a go!


National Lottery Heritage Fund

As you’re no doubt by now aware, the funder formerly known as HLF has had a shiny new rebrand and is now called the National Lottery Heritage Fund.  This rebrand coincided with the launch of the new strategic framework for 2019-2024.

The rationale behind the new framework and rebrand is to respond to considerable consultation work with National Lottery Players about their perceptions of Lottery funding, and to address the outcomes of the DCMS tailored review.  The new brand foregrounds the National Lottery, putting Lottery players at the heart of the work done by the Lottery Good Causes.

There are some key changes as well as many similarities with the new framework, which I will outline here for you.

New, focussed outcomes:

Every heritage project has to be environmentally friendly
This is proportionate to the type and scale of the project, but an important consideration.  It could for example be fitting bat boxes for bat roosting, using compostable disposable plates and cups, planting trees or encouraging people to use public transport.

A wider range of people will be involved in heritage

Again, this is proportionate to the grant size and as appropriate to the project, but aims in particular to reach under-represented groups to engage with heritage and to encourage new partnerships.

With our investment, people will have greater wellbeing

Projects should demonstrate how they will help people feel more connected with one another or help them feel useful or valued.

Grant funding:
There are three levels of grant funding:

£3,000 – £10,000 £10,000 – £250,000 £250,000 – £5 million
Projects up to 1 year

No deadlines, apply when ready

Decision in 8 weeks

£10,000 – £100,000

No deadlines, apply when ready

Decision in 8 weeks

£100,000 – £250,000

Quarterly deadlines:
5 March 2019 for a decision in June 2019

28 May 2019 for a decision in September 2019

20 August 2019 for a decision in November 2019

19 November 2019 for decision in March 2020

Minimum of 5% match-funding required

Submit an Expression of Interest form first

Development phase up to 2 years, delivery phase up to 5 years

Quarterly deadlines:

5 March 2019 for a decision in June 2019

28 May 2019 for a decision in September 2019

20 August 2019 for a decision in November 2019

19 November 2019 for decision in March 2020

Up to £1 million – minimum of 5% match-funding required

£1 million or more – minimum of 10% match-funding required

Applications for funding over £5 million will be processed and decided at Board level.

Themed Campaigns
These are being introduced to encourage projects that target specific themes.  The first two will be:

  • Digital capability
  • Capacity building and organisational resilience

More information about these, including the time frames, will be released soon.

Areas of Focus:
The Heritage Fund is concentrating on 13 areas of deprivation and low uptake of funding opportunities across the UK.  For the East of England the areas of focus are Luton and Tendring.  This does not mean applications from those areas will get preferential treatment, it means more support will be directed to those areas to encourage more high-quality applications.

Application Process:
For applications of £10,000 – £250,000, send a Project Enquiry form first to get advice to help develop your ideas.
For applications of £250,000 or more, send an Expression of Interest.  This is a brief proposal only.  Eligible projects will then receive an invitation to apply.  Priority will be given to organisations that have not previously received Lottery Funding

New Approaches:
National Lottery Heritage Fund will be a strong thought leader and change maker for the full breadth of heritage.
There will be new models of investment – more details will be released shortly:

  •  Loans
  •  Partnerships

Cross-cutting project themes will be encouraged, for example projects that encourage international engagement and support digital campaigns.

What’s staying the same?

  • The main activity will still be grant giving
  • Funding still comes from the National Lottery
  • #ThanksToYou ideas to thank National Lottery players
  • £1.2 billion of funding to be distributed over the next 5 years and £200 million in the next year
  • Grants will continue to support the full breadth of heritage
  • For funding under £100,000 there are rolling deadlines, apply when ready

What’s different?
In addition to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there will be 3 new area committees that will make decisions on grant funding of £100,000 – £5 million.  East Anglia sits in the Midlands and East area.  The other 2 new areas are North, and London and South.  With more grant-making decisions being made at area committee level, there will be greater connection with the communities in those regions.

The Board will handle applications for funding over £5 million.

Strategic Objectives
It is essential to keep the Heritage Fund’s 6 strategic objectives in mind when planning your project and applying:

  1. Bring heritage into better condition
  2. Inspire people to value heritage more
  3. Ensure that heritage is inclusive
  4. Support the organisations we fund to be more robust, enterprising and forward-looking
  5. Demonstrate how heritage helps people and places thrive
  6. Grow the contribution that heritage makes to the UK economy

For more information, visit the National Lottery Heritage Fund website

My Museum Matters – Advocacy Training Day

Melissa Kozlenko, Royal Anglian Museum, reflects on the training day held at IWM, Duxford

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this day of training, but I figured that learning how to advocate for my museum could never hurt! What I got from the day was more than I had expected.

It was really interesting to learn about ways to look for funding or people that may want to donate to your museum, especially from the perspective of how it would also benefit them. The course was really helpful to allow me time to think of a concise message I would like to give about my museum, what I do and how we are unique. Furthermore, as I am not a Cambridge local, it was nice to have the opportunity to sit down with other people and identify businesses and prominent figures in the area who may wish to support us. As we are most likely moving from our present site in the next decade, it gives me more things to think about as a long term plan to fund this or garner more support for the future.

Although some of the ideas could not work for me as a partner museum to the IWM, there were definitely many ideas I took away with me, especially when it came to the annual planner ideas of advocacy tasks to do that didn’t involve money. The brainstorming with other museums in this area definitely also a helpful exercise as when ideas are being thrown around there is usually something that you did not think of.

The segment we did on goals or ways to read your impact was also quite helpful as I do check some of those, but it is always a good idea to have a measure of your success so you have the information at hand if asked about it by any potential donors or even your other museum staff!

After the day of training I definitely had some new ideas and was excited to hopefully start some projects based around ideas from the Advocacy training.

The Revised Museum Accreditation Standard

Miranda Ellis, SHARE Accreditation Advisor

Arts Council England’s revised Museum Accreditation Standard launched on 1 November after a long period of consultation and planning. Natasha and I went along to a training session in Birmingham to find out what the revised standard means for museums in our region.

5 Year Cycle
A change that we’re sure will be very welcome is that Accredited status will now last for 5 years from the date it is awarded. That means you will be invited to re-submit 4½ years after your successful award. During this time it will be as important as ever to keep your policies and key documents up to date and relevant, which will make life easier for you when your resubmission invitation arrives. You’ll also need to work on any ‘Areas for Development’ identified in your previous assessment (previously called ‘Areas for Improvement’), so that you can demonstrate your progress in these areas.

Revised Schedule
The revised Accreditation Schedule is now available online. Please have a look at this and check when your next return is due. If you have any problems with this, please contact your county Museum Development Officer (MDO) or the Regional Accreditation Adviser (Miranda Ellis or Ruth Burwood) for help.

Museums wishing to apply for Accreditation for the first time will complete an Eligibility Questionnaire as before, but this is a little different from the previous version. The questions are a little clearer, to identify the person who will be the main contact, for example. There will be a greater emphasis on having an appropriately constituted governing body from the start – see ‘Appropriate Governance’ below.

The initial eligibility assessment will be carried out by the Regional Accreditation Adviser, who will make a recommendation to the Arts Council. The Arts Council Accreditation Team will make the final decision. Museums not considered eligible will be supported by the Regional Museum Development service (SHARE Museums East, the Regional Accreditation Adviser, Museum Mentors and County MDOs) to make the necessary changes if they still wish to apply. Eligible museums will then be registered as ‘Working Towards Accreditation’.

Working Towards Accreditation
In order to standardise this phase of the process, museums will be given up to 3 years in which to submit their first full Accreditation Application. Regional Museum Development services (SHARE Museums East, the Regional Accreditation Adviser, Museum Mentors and MDOs) will support museums during this phase.

Appropriate Governance
The revised standard places greater emphasis on museums having an appropriately-constituted governing body. As mentioned above, to be eligible for Accreditation, museums will need to demonstrate this from the start. The following are eligible legal structures:

  • Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee (CCLG)
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)

This is not a full and exhaustive list – there are several other eligible structures (including Local Authorities and Universities), but for the sake of simplicity, these are the structures that museums in the region are most likely to have. Other legal entities like Charitable Trusts may also be eligible, provided they meet the main criteria to demonstrate they are appropriate for managing a museum. That is, constitutions must specifically refer to:

  • Ownership and protection of collections – it should make clear that the organisation has the power to operate a museum
  • Nature and status of the governing document (i.e. state the organisation’s legal constitution – CCLG, CIO or otherwise, set out the organisation’s objectives and how its governance is structured to achieve this)
  • Oversight by an appropriate regulatory body (e.g. the Charities Commission, Companies House)
  • The benefit to the public through access to the collections

However, we know that there are lots of museums that are already Accredited that probably don’t have this. Don’t worry if your museum falls into this category. The Arts Council is not looking to remove any museums from the scheme, so you will not be penalised on your next assessment if you can’t demonstrate appropriate governance. However, you are likely to be asked to review your constitution before your next return, as an ‘Area for Development’. It is, in any case, best practice to review the constitution of any governing body on a regular basis to ensure it is still ‘fit for purpose’. I’d recommend doing this around every three years. This is also very important for succession planning.

SHARE Museums East regularly offers workshops for Trustees, which we highly recommend Trustees to attend. Your County MDO can also offer support with governance review, so talk to them or the SHARE Museums East Team to ask for help.

The revised standard is more specific about the use of Spectrum procedures for collections documentation and management. If you are not already using Spectrum, have a look at our forthcoming workshops with the Collections Trust and book yourself a place to learn more.

Access Policy and Plan
There is a new requirement to have an access policy and plan in place. This is not just about physical access but should also cover anything you are doing to enhance sensory and intellectual access to collections. For example, this might be about layered interpretation or providing autism friendly access.

Audience Development
Again, this area of the standard has been made clearer in its requirements. The requirement is to understand who uses the museum and who doesn’t, using user feedback to inform development and planning for developing the range of users.

User Experience
The standard specifies provision of ‘stimulating learning and discovery activities’ that help a broad range of people to access the museum and its collections. Plus ‘effective communications’ with audiences though a range of appropriate media. This could include audio-visual interpretation, digital access to collections, and audience engagement via social media, for example.

Accreditation Mentors
Accreditation Mentors (formerly known as Museum Mentors) are experienced museum professionals who provide support for museums with the Accreditation process, where the museum does not have an experienced museum professional member of staff. The requirements for becoming a mentor have been relaxed to reflect the broader range of skills needed for Accreditation. Mentors need to have at least 3 years’ experience working at a senior level in museums (this used to be 5 years). There is no longer a requirement to have a professional museum qualification since the Arts Council recognises that other skills backgrounds are equally useful, for example business skills and qualifications.

Additional Information We recommend having a look at the following resources on the Arts Council’s website:

There is also a supporting guidance document that deals with Museum Constitutional and Governance Arrangements, which may be helpful for some museums. However, it’s quite a long, complex document. It will probably be quicker and easier to speak to the Museum Development Team at SHARE, the Regional Accreditation Adviser your Museum Mentor or County MDO before delving into this document.

Ongoing Improvements
The launch of the revised Standard represents the beginning of a process of improvement, not the end. There are still more supporting documents to come and the new online submission system, via Grantium, will go live in the Spring. The Arts Council will be continuing to assess how the Accreditation process is working and monitor the impact of the changes.

We will be working on some further guidance resources for you over the coming months and will publicise these as soon as they are available. In the meantime you might like to familiarise yourself with the new standard and check the schedule for your next submission date.

Remember, we are here to help you. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

I will be in post until January 2019, when Ruth Burwood returns from maternity leave and will take over again as Regional Accreditation Adviser.

SHARE Accreditation enquiry email –
Miranda Ellis
Ruth (from January 2019)
Or call us on 01603 495881.

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