Helping Museums To Prosper And Thrive: Round Two Of The AIM Hallmarks Awards Now Open

The second round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 7 October. The awards are supported using public funding by Arts Council England and the Welsh Government and the grants will be available in sums of between £5,000 and £15,000.

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have been developed to support museums and heritage sites to develop their work using the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums which helps to identify what it is about how successful heritage organisations work that enables them to prosper and thrive.

If you are considering applying for a grant in the second round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards, support is available to help you make a successful application. The upcoming AIM Hallmarks in Wales event  in Cardiff on 8 September is free to book for all AIM members across England and Wales and will offer hints and advice to museums considering applying for funding through the AIM Hallmarks Awards.

But how have museums that were successfully awarded funding in the first round of the awards benefitted from their grants – and what top tips can they share to ensure that your application is successful? We sat down with Pru Chambers, the Marketing Manager at The Lightbox in Woking, to find out how the AIM Hallmarks Awards have made a positive difference.

Young Curators Pop Art Workshop

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have helped The Lightbox to successfully engage with millennials (Photo: ©The Lightbox)

AIM: Hi Pru, can you explain why you decided to apply for the AIM Hallmarks Awards please?

PC: We were motivated to apply for an AIM Hallmarks Award following a strategic review that identified the need to ensure sustainability by maximising on our commercial ventures such as events and purchases in our Shop and Café.

One of our most popular income-generating events are regular monthly comedy nights, ‘Joke in the Box,’ which since being introduced in 2015 have proved very popular. The demographic that attend this event we found to be different to those that tend to visit an exhibition, which for The Lightbox is predominantly those with young families and those over the age of 55. In contrast, comedy nights are attended by a wide range of ages, including millennials which we classify as those aged 18-34.

Research into the demographics of the local area showed that a significant proportion of the population fall into the millennial bracket, and yet we struggle to engage them as visitors for anything other than the comedy nights. We were therefore motivated to apply for a Hallmarks award to conduct research into what other events would best attract the millennial audience and investigate which marketing channels and approaches would be most likely to raise awareness about our programme.

AIM: How did you find the AIM Hallmarks Awards application process Pru?

PC: The application process for the award was straightforward, with clear guidance notes available on how to complete the application form which was available to download via the AIM website. Support was also offered in person by a member of the AIM team throughout the application in process.

Pru Chambers Warhol and the World of Pop exhibition

“Being awarded the grant has also made us able to take action on the areas of need highlighted in our strategy review” says Pru Chambers, Marketing Manager at The Lightbox (Photo: ©The Lightbox)

AIM: What is it about these awards that you think will really help make your museum prosper in the future?

PC: This award should really help our gallery and museum to prosper and thrive by helping to widen our audience reach, increasing our audience spend per visitor, which will consequently help to ensure our long-term sustainability. By being awarded funds to conduct in-depth audience research this will intelligently inform our future programming and we will be able to follow up with a targeted marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst millennials in the local area.

AIM: How has being awarded a grant from the AIM Hallmarks Awards positively impacted on the Lightbox so far?

PC: The Hallmark award is already impacting positively on the organisation as we recruited a millennial to help expand our social media channels by introducing Instagram which is quickly gaining followers. We also recruited an agency to conduct both qualitative and quantitative millennials research. For the focus groups and questionnaires, the agency needed stimulus ideas which resulted in a brain-storming session on events and price-points that was very positive. Being awarded the grant has also made us able to take action on the areas of need highlighted in the strategy review with a thorough and well-funded research and action plan which is excellent for the morale of the organisation.

AIM: How has the AIM Hallmarks Award helped The Lightbox’s strategic priorities Pru?

PC: The AIM award has helped our strategic priorities as we identified a need to expand our offerings and raise awareness amongst the millennial audience which we know is one of the largest segments of people living locally.

Our priority is to engage the widest possible audience in activities that generate income such as through events and spend in our Café, Shop or Venue Hire. We know from previous research that 18-34 year olds are likely to spend once they do visit us, particularly at events where there is an option to purchase food and drinks. The challenge has always been to create the right events and generate enough awareness to get this group to attend, and to keep attending, and thanks to the Hallmarks fund we are able to invest money into vital research and marketing.

AIM: That’s such good news Pru – do you have any tips for applicants in this second round of the awards?

PC: To apply for a project that gives the opportunity to really help your organisation prosper and thrive, whether that be defined as increase an in visitors, increase in awareness, widening the programme or supporting a particular project that will have a really positive impact on staff and sustainability.

Find out more about the AIM Hallmarks Awards and top tips for your application at the free Hallmarks in Wales event 8 September

 Hallmarks in Wales

Guidance and application forms for the AIM Hallmarks Awards can be downloaded by visiting:

 AIM Hallmarks Awards

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