Want to work differently? A grant from the AIM Hallmarks Awards can help you

Now open for applications, the latest round of the  AIM Hallmarks Awards will make grants totalling around £70,000 in England and just over £20,000 in Wales.

Funded by Arts Council England and supported by Welsh Government, the AIM Hallmarks Awards offer grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 to help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

So, what type of project has been previously funded and how can you ensure you are successful? We talked to Catherine Allan, Chair of Trustees and Co Director from Rhayader Museum & Gallery in Wales who were successful in Round 2 to see how the Awards have benefited them – and what tips they could share to help your application.

Rhayader Museum & Gallery

AIM: Hi Catherine, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you explain why you decided to apply for the AIM Hallmarks Awards please?

CA: At Rhayader Museum and Gallery, we had already identified a project we wanted to work on and I felt that it would fit really well within the grant guidelines and would give us the opportunity to do the work. We had already trialled parts of the project – which was about recording local town and county shows – two years ago with volunteers so knew that what we wanted to do would be possible!

AIM: How did it enable you to work in new ways as an organisation?

CA: There were three aspects to this: using volunteers in new ways, using new technology and – especially – developing new kinds of community involvement. Encouraging people to record their community in various ways allows them to use new technology, take ownership of the process, to feel that their way of life is of value. It gives those who are not so skilled more confidence and improved social networks. It has allowed us to re-engage with sections of our community in ways we haven’t been able to do in a while.

AIM: How does the project AIM has funded fit in with your strategic priorities?

CA: Rhayader Museum and Gallery, has a mission statement which includes promoting participation in arts and heritage activity for social and cultural benefit, encouraging skill sharing and learning and using creative projects to celebrate and represent the area’s distinctive voices. We work in partnership with all ages and abilities to foster a sense of place, worth and confidence. As well as the project fitting in with the mission statement aims, it also fitted in with our aim as a museum, of growing our audience.

AIM: What did you apply to the AIM Hallmarks Awards to fund?

CA: We are a rural area and have four small agricultural shows around small town of Rhayader (population around 2,000.) Rhayader also has a large summer Carnival. Although some of the same people go to and take part in the Carnival, the events are very different in feel and content.

Carnival is a town celebration with a procession, a crowning of the Carnival Queen, visits from other towns with their floats and princesses and lots of people dressing up. Many different organisations take part and visitors come from far and wide. There is food and drink and live music all day coming from the local pubs and the streets are busy from late morning to evening.

The shows are much quieter and are the way the farming community and their families celebrate. Outsiders do come to them but they tend to be very local to the show fields or family members who have left the area. They feature events such as stock judging, handicraft and produce tent, duck and horse racing, pet shows etc. The bar is often a horse box.

It struck me that they also had a much more fragile feel. The shows are only just recovering from the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. Foot and mouth is an ever-present danger, and with proposed changes in EU membership and farm subsidies, I felt we should be doing what we could to record a way of celebrating that might change substantially or even be lost. Recording both projects would also involve doing oral histories and collecting historic documents and photographs where possible.

There will also be film and written records for people to look at in the museum. Our geographic footprint will be improved as more visitors are able to access aspects of these events they may not have before. The project will allow people who would not normally be inclined to go into a museum to do so, or to access our work in different ways. Overall, the project will reflect back the community to itself and allow it to value how unique it is.

AIM: What was the AIM Hallmarks Awards application process like for you?

CA: My colleague, Krysia Bass, and myself both found the process of applying for a grant was much more straight forward than many. I am not a trained fundraiser and found it quite manageable.

AIM: That’s good to hear Catherine – so what advice or tips would you give to other organisations applying for an AIM Hallmarks Award in Round 3?

CA: I would say that the most important thing is to find a project you feel passionate about. If you don’t really care…why should anyone else? The second thing is obvious – make sure that what you want to do fits with AIM’s criteria. And lastly, have all the fairly tedious but necessary information and statistics about your organisation to hand.

AIM: We are looking forward to seeing how this unique project develops Catherine – so what do you think the legacy of the AIM Hallmarks Award will be for the museum and your community?

CA: I would say that the main legacies for our community will be that participants will be positively affected by the process of recording the shows. People will be able to look at what we produce and remember their experiences. Their children will be able to look back in time and see and hear significant people in their locality.

I hope we will benefit from a raised profile and good will. We will also be able to capture a way of life for future generations to learn from and enjoy finding out about. As we are a largely volunteer run organisation. I anticipate that people will see the value in our work and come forward to help us in the way they did when we were set up as a community arts organisation and community museum.

AIM: Thanks for your time Catherine. Finally, what would you say to encourage other AIM members to apply for an AIM Hallmarks Award?

CA: I would encourage people to go for the award. You will find the process easier than most. It will help you realise a project you feel passionate about or will help you to develop one. That in turn will allow you to revisit and re-evaluate who you are and what you do.

Application information for the AIM Hallmarks Awards

Offering grants of between £5,000 and £15,000, the AIM Hallmarks Awards help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

The third round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017 – but how could you use an award in your museum?

The AIM Hallmarks Awards can be used by successful applicants in two distinct ways:

*To fund an organisational review: This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. Some museums might want to use the AIM Hallmarks as a framework to review their organisational health and can apply for this funding for support in planning future development

*To contribute to a project that supports applicant organisations to behave or develop differently: Museums which have already identified development needs reflecting the principles of the AIM Hallmarks, can apply for funding to put their ideas into practice and progress programmes of work which will enable them to become more resilient and to prosper in the future. Projects can be linked to any of the Hallmarks but must seek to support change at a strategic level and/or to have an impact on organisational culture and behaviour.

The AIM Hallmarks Awards have already helped AIM members in England and Wales to review their organisational health or to develop new ways of working and we strongly encourage potential applicants to discuss their ideas with AIM’s Assistant Director, Helen Wilkinson, before applying.

You can contact Helen by email: helenw@aim-museums.co.uk or by phone on: 0771 966 7102

All information about the AIM Hallmarks Awards including guidance notes and application form can be found on the AIM Hallmarks Awards page.

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