AIM Conference Speaker Spotlight: Bernard Donoghue

Each year, AIM National Conference hosts an impressive line-up of speakers and heritage experts who give talks and lead breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics that are relevant to independent museums. This year’s conference – which runs June 18 – 20 at ss Great Britain in Bristol – is no different, and with thirty speakers and twelve breakout sessions taking place, we have decided to highlight some of the speakers in a new series of interviews over the coming weeks to help give you a taste of what to expect this year.

The man behind one of the most eagerly anticipated talks taking place at AIM conference this year is Bernard Donoghue. He has been the Director of ALVA since September 2011 following a career in advocacy, communications and lobbying, latterly at a senior level in the tourism and heritage sector. He was Head of Government and Public Affairs for VisitBritain, the national tourist board between 1997 and 2010.

He is Chairman of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT); Deputy Chairman of the Tourism Alliance and Kids in Museums; and is a Trustee of the Geffrye Museum of the Home, the Heritage Alliance, the National Funding Scheme, and the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

He may have an impressive resume, but ultimately, Bernard is genuinely personable and deeply passionate about the heritage, tourism and arts sectors. For him, sharing and learning from best practice is the key to success and his talk at conference entitled The Great British Day Off: Who do you think you are? Meets Downton Abbey – What a great day out feels like’ is sure to attract a large audience. AIM spoke to Bernard about his hopes for conference this year and how it helps him in his own working life.

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AIM Conference Speaker: Bernard Donoghue of ALVA

AIM: Hi Bernard and thanks for taking time out to talk to us. To get started, why do you think independent museums should attend AIM conference this June?

BD: The economic and political climate in which we meet is challenging, unpredictable and uncertain, but what is certain, is that museums are entrepreneurial and committed to sharing and learning from best practice. AIM conference provides an ideal opportunity to share and learn together.

AIM: What are you personally looking forward to most about conference Bernard?

BD: There are three reasons why I am looking forward to it. From ALVA’s perspective, we share our benchmarking scheme with AIM (AIM Visitor Verdict) so I am looking forward to seeing how that’s been working for members and how it is benefitting museums. I also love hearing about good practice and stories of success – and disaster. Quite often the tales of disaster are the ones you learn most from! Finally, as a lover of museums and art galleries myself, I personally enjoy meeting and visiting AIM members. AIM conference for me is a one stop shop for planning my own year ahead.

AIM: It’s really good to hear how much you value attending conference, but what would you say to encourage others to attend?

BD: Networking is a vital part of the recipe for success and learning nuggets of best practice can easily fill up your business plan – if you choose them wisely. AIM conference will be a great learning opportunity for all of us.

AIM: What other talks and sessions are you inspired by on this year’s conference schedule?

BD: I’m really looking forward to hearing from David Jubb and Michael Day at Battersea Arts Centre. I’m a Trustee of the National Funding Scheme; our DONATE scheme helped raise over £78,000 for them after their recent fire. I would love to know what the legacy has been for both the centre and the organisation’s leaders from that awful tragedy. Other speakers that I always love listening to are Tony Butler, Matthew Tanner and Sam Mullins and I will be visiting their talks.

AIM: Thanks so much for your time Bernard and we look forward to seeing you in June. Before we go, is there anything else you would like to add?

BD: Only that I will take any opportunity to pay a visit to the ss Great Britain – a visitor attraction which I hold in high regard!

Early Bird booking for AIM Conference closes Friday April 17th.

For all conference information and details on how to book, please visit:

AIM National Conference 2015


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