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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.

RECOVERY IN BRUM

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.

SECTOR SPECIFIC RESEARCH

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.

DIGITAL SKILLS

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

OPERATIONAL ISSUES ON REOPENING

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…

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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

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

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Me at Coffine Works_AMHayes_2015-12-12_WEBSML

Merry Christmas! (c) Ann Marie Hayes

This time last year, Jenni Waugh Consulting Ltd was a very new creation – a big step into the future for my career as a consultant.

It’s been a really good year for me, professionally, and for the company. We’ve taken on a number of interesting and challenging jobs, attracted new clients, and embarked upon new contracts that will keep us busy for the next 18 months.

I’d really like to thank you, both clients and supporters, for the work, the advice, the recommendations and the really really brilliant conversations.

Amongst the hard graft, there’s been a number of high points, the apotheosis being a proud trustee at the Heritage Angels award ceremony in London, when Birmingham Conservation Trust won the People’s Choice award for the restoration of the Coffin Works.

DSCN5959

The team from Birmingham Conservation Trust with the award for the Coffin Works restoration.

Working with two community groups from Pershore to win £20,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund so that they could realise their desire to research the WW1 Home Front in the town was another treat.  I can’t tll you how relieved I was to get the award letter – I would have hated to let them down.  We’re now building their work into a much larger public engagement programme with the University of Worcester and uncovering some wonderful stuff.

Evaluating projects around the region is always a joy – the content of the activity, the nature of the material heritage being celebrated and the diversity of the groups, ensure that no two are the same.  Work on the Mingana manuscripts project for the University of Birmingham has been slightly disrupted this year by the ‘once in ten archivists’ lifetimes’ discovery of Qu’ranic manuscripts dating back to the lifetime of the prophet.  It’s meant a new and exhilarating turn in the project activity and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

On the other hand, I have been working intensively on different projects with groups of dementia care home residents and with young people with learning disabilities.  The impact of participation and engagement in heritage and arts activity is making a difference to their quality of life and I am filled with admiration at the talent, determination and effort of all involved.

Everyday, it’s a privilege to work with and for such creative, innovative and committed people, and I love every minute.  Even the data entry!

Please continue to be excellent, over this Christmas time and into the New Year.  I look forward to more in 2016!

REVIEW OF THE YEAR

ONGOING INTO 2016

  • Museums Worcestershire: evaluation of the 3-year, HLF-funded Skills for the Future Traineeship programme, Growing Worcestershire’s Treasures
  • Culture Coventry: evaluation of the wellbeing and learning outcomes of the Esmee Fairbairn -funded Creative Bridges programme of creative and employability skills training for young people with learning disabilities
  • University of Birmingham: evaluation of the wellbeing and learning outcomes of the Mingana MSS community engagement project
  • Museums Worcs and Wychavon District Council: evaluation of wellbeing outcomes of arts & reminiscence activity in residential dementia care homes
  • University of Worcester: Sessional Lecturer for the Institute of Humanities & Creative Arts
  • H&W Earth Heritage Trust: ongoing archive research activity, volunteer training and support in research skills (online and in archives/libraries) for the Building Stones project
  • University of Worcester, Pershore WI and Pershore Heritage & History Society: fundraiser and project manager of WW1 in the Vale, a community heritage project investigating food production in Pershore during World War One (so far, £20,000 raised from HLF and £15,000 from AHRC)

COMPLETED IN 2015

  • Evaluation of the HLF-funded Medieval Abberley Revealed community archaeology project (2014-2015).
  • Training delivery in community archive management, historical research skills, community heritage project management, blog development and social media marketing
  • Evaluation programme for Birmingham Conservation Trust’s HLF-funded redevelopment of the Coffin Works; and support for delivery of community activity programme (2014)
  • Review of Museum Development activity in the West Midlands, for The Marches Curators, (2012-2015)

Thanks for helping us to #bringitbackforBrum

DSCN5972crop It’s time to ease your suspense, following my last post, asking for your votes.

Yes!  Thank you all you wonderful peeps.  As a result of your support and enthusiasm, Birmingham Conservation Trust won the Heritage Angel, Historic England and Telegraph People’s Favourite award for our restoration of the Newman Brothers Coffin Works.

It’s a long title, but a very worthwhile prize that means a great deal to all of us, as you can see from the short film I made of the acceptance speeches made by Simon Buteux and Elizabeth Perkins, respectively our current and former Directors, who have worked to hard to see the restoration project succeed.

The Heritage Angel Awards are organised by Historic England and sponsored by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.  As a result, Sir Andrew’s Foundation paid for 12 of the BCT team to attend the ceremony in the Palace Theatre, London, on 7 September 2015.

Consequently, as well as bringing along the BCT staff, and Jane Arthur, chair of the BCT Board, Simon was able to invite the project manager, Kate Dickson, project architect, Ed Kepczyk, another trustee, (me!), and 3 volunteers: David, Pam and Owen.

DSCN5959

The ceremony provided a great opportunity to see the high standard of exciting restoration work taking place around the country.  After the show, we mingled with the other nominees at a reception, where we snaffled as many mini-cones of fish & chips as we could, whilst comparing notes and sharing tales of restoration highs and lows.
Two days later, an article about our success appeared in the Daily Telegraph – considering he was interviewing 12 very over-excited people, the journalist did a remarkably accurate job!

We are very grateful to you, our friends and supporters, as well as those of Heritage England and the readers of the Telegraph, for voting so strongly in our favour.  Please do come and visit us now so that you can see the award you helped us to win!

VOTE COFFIN WORKS for the Heritage Angel Award and #BringitbackforBrum

Please VOTE COFFIN WORKS for the Heritage Angel Award 2015

Please VOTE COFFIN WORKS for the Heritage Angel Award 2015

As a proud trustee of Birmingham Conservation Trust, I am delighted to report that we have been nominated for one of Historic England’s Angel Awards, specifically the Best Rescue of an Industrial Building Award, for our restoration of the glorious Newman Brothers at the Coffin Works.
However, there is another Heritage Angel award, which we need your help to win: the 2015 Historic England followers’ & Telegraph readers’ Favourite Award will be presented to the project that receives the most public votes.
So please, vote for us by following this link*:
http://historicengland.org.uk/news-and-features/angel-awards/shortlist-2015/

bring-it-back-650x369A little bit about our restoration of the Coffin Works

15 years of hard work, fundraising and a £2m refurbishment paid off when we re-opened the factory in October 2014. The semi-derelict grade II* listed industrial building now has a very bright and sustainable future as both a highly-rated ‘time-capsule’ museum, an events venue, and eight commercial units, which are all fully let!
BCT, along with our wonderful team of volunteers, have given the factory a new lease of life and preserved a unique and special slice of Birmingham’s history for the city. Just check out our TripAdvisor Reviews to see how special the museum is!

For more information about the work of Birmingham Conservation Trust, click here.

To visit the Coffin Works for yourself, click here.

*Just for information…
When you follow the ‘vote’ link you are taken to a SurveyMonkey page where you are asked to provide your name, email and telephone number and are asked whether you are ‘a) A Historic England follower b) A Telegraph reader (the Telegraph is one of the award sponsors) c) Both’. Being a ‘follower’ of Historic England means anybody with an interest in their work – i.e. anybody can vote.

You can opt out of being contacted by Historic England simply by not ticking the relevant boxes about this. Although, why not follow them on Twitter @HistoricEngland or on Facebook.com/HistoricEngland or subscribe to their newsletter and find out more about the great work that they do.

For more about the Heritage Angel Awards, follow this link

Because you’re worth it!

heritagetourismhlfThe updated Economic Impact Toolkit: West Mids DIY version is here

In a time of financial uncertainty and the ‘downgrading’ of the value of culture, we all need to be able to say with certainty why we are ‘worth it’.

West Midlands Museum Development Officers (WMids MDOs) led the first region-wide survey in 2012 and commissioned me to crunch up the data and see how we had all done.

18 museums replied and demonstrated that in 2011-2012, they contributed over £59 million to the tourism economy. Over Christmas this year WMids MDOs did a quick numbers version, 88 sites responded and showed that museum contribute over £208 millions to the economy in 2012-2013!

Now AIM (Association of Independent Museums) has updated their formulae using government GreenBook statistics.  The WMids MDOs have commissioned me to translate the revised formulae for the West Mids into the attached spreadsheets so that all you need to do is put in the raw numbers, letting Excel do the rest!

With just 4 sets of numbers you will be able to calculate your  impact both regionally and in your local area on:

  • local tourism income
  • local employment figures
  • the economic impact of your expenditure on goods  services in the local area
  • the value of the effort contributed by your volunteers

You are free to use these spreadsheets at ANY time, for your own use…. 

However, as a BIG FAVOUR, I would ask that as many of you as possible complete the relevant spreadsheet by April 18th and send it to back to me.  I shall be collating it all in order to create printed pieces of advocacy for the region and each county …don’t let your impact be left out .

The spreadsheet should be self explanatory, please try to fill in all sheets, save it and send it it me by email.  It has been designed with museums in mind, but there is no real reason why archive or built heritage organisations should not use it.

If you are a large museum, with 50,000  visitors per annum, please use this worksheet: CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT_LARGE museums toolkit_2014_FINAL

If you are a small or medium size museum, with fewer than 49,999 visitors per annum, please use this worksheet: CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT_SMALL-MEDIUM museums toolkit_2014_FINAL

I know this will be a really valuable tool for you all – if you have any queries please contact me.