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 23 – 25 June at The Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh – is no different, and with thirty-four speakers lined up this year, we will be highlighting some of them in a new series of interviews over the coming weeks to help give you a taste of what to expect from conference.
The first speaker featured for 2016, is Nathaniel Hepburn, the Director of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in East Sussex. After a decade long tenure as the founding Curator of the Mascalls Gallery, Nathaniel joined Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in 2014 and leads a team delivering new displays and loan exhibitions accompanied by an education and events programme for a wide profile of audiences and the museum also works very closely with local businesses for mutual benefit with great success.
Forward thinking, eloquent and sharply astute, Nathaniel is an interesting person to chat with and to listen to, and he is always keen to share his experience with other independent museums of all sizes. He is giving a talk on Day 2 of conference entitled ‘Pretending to be big: how a team of village attractions worked together to attract visitors and funding’, so we caught up with him on the phone to find out more about him – and what delegates can expect to hear from his talk.
AIM: Hi Nathaniel, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, can we start by asking you why you think independent museums should attend AIM conference this June?
NH: It’s actually my first time at an AIM National Conference, but I am looking forward to meeting others from across the UK museum sector that are facing similar challenges or that are looking for similar solutions or ideas for their own organisations. It can be geographically isolating working for an independent museum sometimes because other museums and galleries adjacent to yours might not be similar, so AIM National Conference provides an exciting forum to learn, to share and to collaborate.
AIM: What makes AIM conference so unique in your perspective?
NH: The speakers. You have those with a national overview from large organisations through to small, volunteer run museums and galleries and because of that, AIM conference offers a breadth of ideas – which is a rare opportunity in the sector.
AIM: What can people expect from your talk at conference this year Nathaniel?
NH: I’m going to be talking about a particular project that showed how the museum engaged with the commercial sector in the small village where we are based and how those relationships were used to advocate for and motivate tourism for the village. The museum galvanised business support and many opportunities came from collaborating with the commercial sector, plus it helped to generate funding and other commercial opportunities. Different businesses such as pubs, vineyards and campsites worked with us and it proved that a big city/big business attitude can work in a destination like ours.
AIM: Because this is your first time attending conference, can you tell us what you are most looking forward to personally?
NH: Apart from the many very interesting talks and breakout sessions, I’m really looking forward to the breaks, the chances to talk with others over coffee and the social aspects of conference because they will provide the chance to build relationships outside of conference and to form a peer network across the country.
AIM: What other talks and sessions are you hoping to attend and why?
NH: I would like to attend any sessions that talk about change management – and the opportunities that come with change, such as changes to governance or funding models which is interesting and which can be challenging. Any talks on commercial opportunities will be useful and interesting too.
There are still some tickets left for AIM National Conference 2016, but they are selling out quickly. For booking information please visit:
AIM National Conference 2016 is kindly sponsored by Artelia