Exciting new contract with Moseley Road Baths

Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd, Durnin Research, The Collett Consultancy and James McDonald, filmmaker, are delighted to have been appointed by Birmingham City Council and Moseley Road Baths CIO as evaluators of the Diving In project. 

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Diving In promises to complete the transformation of Moseley Road Baths. The restoration will create a positive ripple effect across the community making Balsall Heath a more exciting place to live, work and visit and increase the diversity of local people who engage with heritage for their inspiration, enjoyment and wellbeing. 

This first stage of the National Lottery Heritage Fund investment will allow the partnership to develop their ambitious £32.5m Diving In project, which by 2029 will return swimming to the Gala Pool for the first time in 25 years and adapt other spaces, including the old laundry and slipper baths, to host fitness and wellbeing classes, a gym and building on its existing programme of cultural and arts events.

The funding will support the development of cross-generational cultural programmes with Balsall Heath library, focusing on families and older people, and learning opportunities for schools. It will also include the development of a Volunteering, Skills and Participation model with a multitude of opportunities to support activities and operations across the two buildings.

The evaluation will capture learning from the experience gained in undertaking the project, and measure success against the expected outcomes.  It will include input from visitors, community participants, volunteers, staff, and other stakeholders and will support the establishment of ongoing quality monitoring and evaluation.

The capital works are also being supported by funding fromthe Levelling Up Fund, Birmingham City Council, Historic England and World Monuments Fund. For more information, see https://moseleyroadbaths.org.uk/


We’re evaluating another castle

Sun shines on a large, partly ruined stone building with an archway and windows - this is Newark Castle Gatehouse.

Durnin Research Ltd and Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd are delighted to have been appointed by Newark and Sherwood District Council as evaluators of the Newark Castle ‘Building Bridges’ project.  Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, ‘Building Bridges’ will establish Newark Castle and Gardens at the heart of the town, creating a significant, culturally creative heritage venue for the people of Newark, and making Newark a better place to live, work and visit. 

Through the community co-curation of a programme of heritage interpretation and the creation of inspiring activities and events, the project will increase the diversity of local people who engage with the heritage for their inspiration, enjoyment and wellbeing.  The project will complement a major capital works for the renovation of the Castle running alongside Building Bridges, funded by the Towns Fund.

The evaluation will capture learning from the experience gained in undertaking the project, and measure success against the expected outcomes.  The evaluation will include input from visitors, community participants, volunteers, staff, and other stakeholders.

As soon as we have more information about the project plans, we’ll share them here. In the meantime, if you want to get involved in the consultation, you can get in touch here: https://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/newarkcastlebuildingbridges/

‘Through play they show us’: how Thinktank co-produced the cool Minibrum gallery with Early Years children

The Minibrum gallery and associated learning and community engagement programmes were co-produced entirely with Early Years children (0-8 years old), their families, specialists and educators, and expert advisory panels. In creating Minibrum, Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) broke new ground, becoming the first UK Science Centre to create a STEM-learning gallery and programme entirely dedicated to this age group.

Just as lockdown began in March 2020, I started work on the evaluation of the fascinating MiniBrum project at Thinktank in Birmingham. Over the next 18 months I worked with staff from BMT and a range of experts to create tools that ensured the young children’s responses were at the heart of the evaluation as well as the development.

The co-production team was led by an Early Years Specialist and supported by an Advisory Board and Working Group that included both external stakeholders and staff from across BMT’s Learning and Engagement, Curatorial, Conservation, Operations and Commercial teams.

The children, their families, education and community organisations were involved in all aspects of design from the developing the content and layout of the toilets, café and gallery zones, to the focus of the learning and events programming. The project team also drew on expertise from academics, STEM providers, teachers, parents, health and community workers.

When MiniBrum opened to the public in May 2019 it was an immediate hit with families, schools and children’s groups. Throughout lockdown BMT continued co-production work online, on and offsite with children, schools and community groups to develop further elements including the Jewellery Factory exhibition, early years planetarium show and multi-sensory family activities.

Observing the galleries and activities today, it’s a delight to see how confidently babies, infants and young children use the spaces playfully and imaginatively to explore STEM in the world around them.

The following 2 pdf guides were created at the end of the project to provide 9 top tips to co-production with this challenging and inspiring age-group. Feel free to download and share with your colleagues!

Note that I will be discussing the project evaluation at the Visitor Studies Group annual conference on 13 May 2022

Minibrum was supported by a grant from the Inspiring Science Fund, a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome.  Between 2017 and 2021, 16 nurseries and primary schools, 6 community organisations and 3 universities took part in MiniBrum co-production activity.

Nottingham Castle Evaluation

Jenni Waugh Consulting and Durnin Research are delighted to have been appointed by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Castle Trust to deliver the Nottingham Castle Evaluation. 

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Nottingham City Council and Nottingham Castle Trust, the project includes creation of new galleries dedicated to Robin Hood, Nottingham’s famous outlaw, and the story of rebellion in the city.

Architect’s impression of the restored Nottingham Castle site, 2020

The programme of works includes the renovation of the Castle building, the construction of the new Visitor Centre and the redeveloping Ducal Palace, the Grounds, and the sprawling cave systems hidden within the Castle Rock. The project will also fund the renovation of the Castle building to create a new Robin and the Rebels themed visitor attraction, creating new jobs and attracting new visitors.

The project aims to establish the Castle as a significant visitor destination and is one of the most prominent heritage projects in the country.  The wider benefits to Nottingham as expected to include:

  • 400,000 visitors attracted in the first year
  • Additional spend in the local economy of over £90m over ten years
  • 395 jobs sustained
  • 230 construction jobs created
  • 500 volunteer placements
  • 20,000 school visits per year with events, workshops and activities to enliven the site.

The evaluation will capture learning from the experience gained in undertaking the project, and measure success against the expected outcomes.  The evaluation will include input from visitors, community participants, volunteers, staff, and other stakeholders.

For more details on the project, go to https://www.nottinghamcastle.org.uk/

After the Interval and other CoViD19 Recovery Research

There’s no need to dwell on the weird times in which we live and work right now – I’ll save that for another post – but I have found it helpful to see the emerging research that might help us to regroup and recover in future.

We are all concerned about the implications of CoViD19 restrictions in relation to our work, our social lives and our families.  For me, every day brings another *Gasp!* moment, when I think of another link in the chain that might potentially be lost – I can’ only support one of those at a time…

Here, I’ve collected together links to some of the material I’ve found useful to my thinking so far and I will add more over time.  It’s not exhaustive, and I’m afraid I haven’t had chance to absorb the findings enough to provide any incisive synthesis, but I hope you might find something here of value to your own plans.


A useful panel debate between professionals drawn from Birmingham’s public, arts, finance, commercial, property and retail sectors. 

It took place on 19 May 2020 and from it I gained an illuminating insight into the interconnectedness of all things, of how tricky it will be, when trying to recover the life of our richly complex city,  to reconnect the circuits and ensure that as few people get left behind as possible.

The chair was Marc Reeves, Editor-in-Chief, Business Live, and the speakers were:

  • Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council
  • Lara Ratnaraja, Freelance Cultural Consultant
  • Mark Orton, Partner, KPMG
  • Nicola Fleet-Milne, Chair, Colmore BID and CEO, FleetMilne Property
  • Sam Watson, Chair, Retail BID and General Manager, Selfridges
  • Steve Banham, Divisional Director, Brewin Dolphin

You can find a lot more material on the KPMG website about business and commercial recovery which will help you to get a view of the wider picture.


To better understand the status quo and what might come next, NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations) launched a survey to map COVID-19’s impact on the European museum sector.  The results were published on 12 May 2020 in a report with accompanying recommendations. NEMO will continue to support the museum sector with information about the situation as well as monitoring re-opening plans.

In planning for a life beyond lockdown, and for re-opening, we need to know how our audiences feel.  It’s essential to understand how keen they are to return, what they miss the most and how we can make our visitors and our workforce feel confident enough to come back.

After the Interval (Indigo) has been designed to capture audience views how they feel about missing out on live events during lockdown, booking tickets now and in future and what they feel about returning to live arts events.

ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) have commissioned Decision House to undertake similar Recovery Tracker research to build an understanding of how the sector can build trust and confidence among the attractions-visiting public.

Both have released wave 1 reports (relating to surveys carried out in April) on their websites (click on the links above). These reports will added to as the waves continue, with final reports planned for October 2020.

ALVA posed two major practical questions that attractions are likely to have ahead of re-opening:

  1.  How should we physically present ourselves on re-opening to build public trust and confidence in visiting?
  2.  What communications messages should we put out there to build confidence and capture the public mood?

Some headlines from the ALVA Wave 1 report indicates how cautious the respondents feel, even at an early stage in lockdown when the full implications of how long restrictions might last was unclear:

  • The tracker indicates a growing anticipation of visiting attractions within the next 3-6 months, perhaps a reaction to horizons for overseas travel becoming further away
  • Market is highly cautious overall, but a quick return is more likely for gardens and country parks.
  • Many potential visitors are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach in fear of a second wave of the virus.
  • A significant proportion of attraction visitors are currently feeling that they will not return until a vaccine is available or the virus at least appears to be comprehensively beaten.
  • Caution is widespread, but there are some groups who are more likely to return as soon as the opportunity arises.
  • Around two thirds of the market will feel increased anxiety about a visit, so reassurance before and during a visit will be critical. Anxiety appears to be less related to the type of attraction.
After the Interval Wave 1 findings echo this caution:
  • 93% of respondents are missing live events; 74% miss the buzz of the audience, and 55% look forward to supporting their local arts venue.
  • Only 17% are actually buying tickets now; 75% would want some form of safety measure to be in place before they return; and 28% would prefer to stay away from large gatherings, even when events get back underway.


Lockdown life has forced people online and accelerated our need to understand, embrace and develop our skills in operating in the digital realm.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has commissioned research in to  digital attitudes and skills in the heritage sector.  Your responses will inform their strategic funding direction in the coming months so it’s really helpful to take part. They are seeking to find out:

  • What key digital attitudes and skills heritage staff and volunteers already have.
  • What new uses of digital technology they would like to explore.

The survey is open to UK heritage organisations of all sizes so sign up and participate here: Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey


National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC)-led cross-sectoral working group is developing good practice guidance on museum reopening with DCMS’ support. The approach is guided by the safety of visitors and staff, and financial sustainability. The guidance acknowledges the complexity of the sector, where each museum will be working within a unique set of circumstances and responding to local contexts. The guidance will be available in early June.

Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums, has been collecting a series of CoViD19 resources, plans and guidelines for re-opening from venues across Europe and sharing this material on their website. There’s a lot of material here and the site is well worth rummaging about on – material has been submitted from all over Europe so you might need Google translate as well!



Evaluation #hacks

20191119_152448 cropWhat a super day!  2 years in the making (don’t ask) and then yesterday I met up with 15 of the region’s keenest and we had a splendid day mucking about with outcomes frameworks, logic chains, question banks and love them/loathe them survey tools.

The fulfilment of a private ambition really – West Midlands Museum Development team had invited me to devise and deliver an Evaluation Training Day at the Hereford Museum of Cider.

My ambition for the day was to provide museum professionals with an overview of how to plan for and structure an evaluation programme that is embedded in project activity from start to finish. All were encouraged to base the ‘hypothetical’ planning work on live projects in their own organisations.

I took the group through the planning process from formative enquiry, carrying out monitoring and transitional assessment research through to summative evaluation and reporting.

Yes, it was as nerdy as it sounds but we had enormous fun and there was a great buzz in the room as people worked together to share their knowledge and experience and banish their fears of EVALUATION.  It’s a beast, but the course feedback suggests I’ve helped people to tame it!

We also

  • created our own evaluation framework and question banks
  • considered the levels of resource (money, time, staffing, training) required to carry out evaluation work
  • discussed the pros and cons of various approaches to monitoring and survey
  • finished with a good natured debate over whether to tackle the work in-house or commission an external consultant for the job.

As I said, it was fun with information attached.  Actually, we were having so much noisy fun that a member of the Cider Museum team asked what kind of party we were having and could he join in!

Keep reading below the picture for links to evaluation guidance and resources…

20191119_152447 crop

Here are some of links to information and tools we talked about in the session which might well be of use to you, my darling readers.

What types of evaluation are there? Here’s a handy guide from the V&A Learning Team to some of the terms used by consultants!

National Lottery Heritage Fund:

Arts Council England:

Measuring Learning

Association for Independent Museums (AIM): measuring economic, social and environmental impact

Measuring Wellbeing

Head Heart Bag Bin (pdf) – a visual survey tool for evaluating the learning and wellbeing impact of your activity

I made a film!

We* decided to finish up Ombersley Remembers the WW1 Home Front by making a short film to show off some of the many discoveries made during the project. Hope you enjoy the trip!

It’s been a delight to work with the Ombersley Remembered research volunteers – I’ve never had so many keen researchers stick with me throughout.  I think there were about 15 by the end, but I do admit I lost count!

I think they were particularly enthused because the subject matter they were researching focussed on their own homes – we looked at the history of the parish in WW1 by finding out who lived in each featured house and what they were most likely doing through the war.

We were really helped here because the combination of surviving official records between 1911 and 1921 which meant we could tie individuals to their homes and occupations by using the 1911 census, the 1910 Finance Act returns (correct for 1914), electoral registers and commercial directories.  So much information, and that was before we started rummaging in the parish registers, newspapers and school log books!

The research was then used to create two parish tours focussing on the WW1 Home Front, which you can find and try out for yourself by visiting the project website.

Ombersley Remembers is my fifth community history project focussing on the WW1 history of Worcestershire.  Continue reading

Collecting Birmingham: evaluation of a Prize Winner!

Much as I love all my clients, it’s a tremendous buzz when their work wins prizes!

Birmingham Museums Trust commissioned me to evaluate their terrific Collection Birmingham project during 2017-2018, and then used elements of my report to help them win the Museums Association’s Museums Change Lives Award 2018.

The project was funded through the HLF Collecting Cultures programme and focussed on bringing people from some of Birmingham’s diverse communities together with artists and curators to shape the future of Birmingham Museum Trust’s collecting policies.

Over 1,800 objects were acquired through consultations with local people including The Rivers of Birminam, a series of 100 black and white photographs by Vanley Burke chronicling 40 years of Caribbean heritage in Birmingham. The photographs are by far the largest and most significant collection of work by the celebrated photographer in any public collection and were displayed at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery earlier this year.

I feel like the photos belong to the people of Birmingham as so many people feel connected to the stories and experiences documented in them. I’m very pleased they will be part of the city’s collection.

Vanley Burke

As an evaluator, it was exciting to see how eager the Collections Team of curators, conservators and cataloguers were to get involved with community engagement activity more usually carried out by the Learning & Engagement team members.

As the project team worked across the whole Trust to bring many permanent staff members’ skills to bear on creating networks, it is clear that Collecting Birmingham has significantly increased the network of communities and local experts with whom Birmingham Museums Trust hopes to work in future.

The very public nature of the project and the open consultation processes employed have gone a long way to demonstrate goodwill to and build trust with communities who had previously had reason to suspect the institution’s intentions. The team have also supported external partners to ensure a more representative process of collecting and presenting culturally significant objects to wider audiences in future years.  As a result, participants have demonstrated changes in attitude towards BMT that augur well for future collaboration.

There is no doubt of the impact that Collecting Birmingham will have on BMT’s Collections Development Policy and on the organisation as a whole. As Rebecca Bridgman, Project Manager and Curator said:

As a result of Collecting Birmingham, I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the method whereby only curators decide what new objects to acquire for the collection.

You can download the report pdf here: Collecting Birmingham Evaluation Report 2018

Women on boards

Having read the rather disappointing excuses proffered by ‘executives at the UK’s biggest firms’ in response to the Hampton-Alexander review currently being carried out for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills concerning the low number of women yet appointed to the boards of FTSE companies, I chanced upon the following article from 1899 calling for women’s representation on the boards of organisations whose decisions directly affected them.

In  July 1899, Mrs Day presented a paper to the Annual Meeting of the Women’s Co-operative Guild: Women on Management Committees: A Few Reasons why Women should sit on Management Committees of Co-operative Societies.  The paper is available to download for free from Archive.org.

The Women’s Co-operative Guild is rather fabulous – established as The Women’s League for the Spread of Co-operation in 1883, before changing its name to the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1885. Set up to provide women with a voice within the co-operative movement, it provided a forum for working women to agitate for better working and living conditions, education, welfare and economic support. You can find out more at the National Co-operative Archive.

In 1899, Mrs Day presented 5 key reasons why women should be appointed to the men-only Co-Operative Society boards, the first of which was to point our how many other major public institutions already counted women on their governing bodies:

Women are considered to be qualified to sit on poor-law boards as guardians, to look after the supplies needed, both of food, clothing, shoes, housing, nursing, educating, in fact, everything referring to poor-law work, which involves the spending of many thousands of pounds of public money, and their judgment upon samples of goods is accepted, and their advice acted upon. The same rule applies to school boards. How many women now occupy seats throughout the country? Their judgment is sought not only upon the matters directly relating to education, but on the erection and furnishing of palatial school buildings. Women are considered not to understand plans and drawings of buildings ; still, they are making these things their study, and I have never yet read or heard of a woman either on poor-law or school boards shirking any part of her work; but always willing, and desirous to do their part of the work faithfully and well. If we, as women, can take our share in the work of these public bodies, can we not also do the same in the management of our societies? The duties are not more difficult, the responsibilities more great, nor the strain more severe. We do not desire to take the places of competent men on these management committees; but we do claim, as members of the same societies, with equal interests at stake, our right to share the duties of management, and bring to the work a calm and clear judgment on all matters brought before us, free from bias.

No one, I think, will dare to say, after what I have stated, we are not capable of carrying out our duties. Women must and will take their places on the boards of our co-operative societies in the future, much more so than in the past. If women are considered qualified to sit on the Central Board of the Co-operative Union, sex being no barrier to election, I think the day is not far distant when on the management committee of every co-operative society in the kingdom, whose rules admit to membership both sexes equally, at least one or two women should be found.

The requested change did not come about swiftly, but it did eventually take place – for further information, read Nicole Robertson’s paper ‘Women as organised consumers: the case of the co-operative movement’ (Economic History Society, 2008).

It still seems to be working.  Data collected for International Women’s Day 2016 finds that there are twice as many female directors of the UK’s largest retail co-operatives than there are of FTSE companies.

Co-operatives UK continues to champion the importance of inclusivity from the shopfloor to the boardroom.  It’s worth looking at the Co-operative Women’s Challenge in 2011, a campaign that seeks to ensure women are fairly represented at all levels within the co-operative movement. The challenge aims by 2020 to promote:

  1. Fair representation in the democratic structures of co-operatives
  2. More women in senior management roles and
  3. A wider campaign for gender equality across the economy and society.

When Mrs Day made her case in 1899, I wonder if she had any idea how long it would take for the change to take effect?


Improving museum access practice

picture1Monday’s post about the VocalEyes report on The State of Museum Access for people with Disabilities drew a lot of attention on social media from professionals seeking or driving change in their own institutions. I’ve had some really good conversations about breaking down barriers and heard about some excellent resources, and I thought it only fair to share!

It was particularly brilliant to hear from Roz Chalmers (@elsiebiades) who is a freelance audio describer and trainer, Thanh Sinden at Culture Coventry who is currently reviewing access practice in-house, and Becki Morris,  a museum professional specialising in inclusion and representation of Disabilities in museums.

Becki drew my attention to the Disability Co-operative Network in Museums, which is committed to raising the profile of inclusive practice in the museum, heritage and cultural sectors.  You can follow them on twitter @museumDCN.

DCN aims to raise confidence, challenge preconceptions and reduce barriers to service delivery by broadening audience participation and engagement.  They work with corporations, businesses, charities, organisations and individuals to identify and challenge barriers, support inclusive service delivery, technological innovation and attract disabled talent to the workplace.

Their website is available to all museums, art galleries, heritage sites and cultural venues and includes free resources and case studies contributed by heritage, arts, charity and corporate sector organisations.  It also includes a free virtual exhibition space for disabled artists which includes profiles and links to the artist’s website.

One long term goal for the website is to begin a blog for disabled people to share and feedback on their experiences of cultural venues.  For further information, you can contact DCN directly.