AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers programme – further speakers confirmed

With the application deadline fast approaching for the next round of the AIM Hallmarks Leaders and Enablers programmes, we are delighted to be able to confirm more of our speakers. One of the programmes’ distinctive strengths is that they bring new insights, from the charity sector and beyond, to help people who lead and support museums think differently about the challenges we all face and we’re looking forward to a strong line up of speakers in the new round of the programme.

John Thompson is the Chief Executive, St Martin of Tours, a leading provider of community forensic mental health services in London. He also chairs the board of Wandsworth and Westminster Mind. Speaking to the Leaders programme in Round 1, he spoke about turning an organisation round by redefining the charity’s core purpose and focusing on doing one thing really well, and stopping other areas of service delivery. John helped the Leaders think through the reality of implementing a strategy which saved a failing organisation and delivered great public benefit but also necessitated some very difficult decisions and was personally extremely arduous. Although John’s world is very different to ours, the Leaders programme participants found his insights very powerful.

We’re also delighted to confirm Steve Wyler, who brings experience of supporting community-led organisations, as the former CEO of Locality and Martin Stott, who chairs the William Morris Society as well as having a distinguished career in local government. For more on our other speakers, including Janet Barnes and Sarah O’Grady, see last week’s blog.

The application deadline is Monday 16 January at 9am and full details of the programmes and how to apply are at If you want to discuss your application or find out more about whether the programmes are for you, please call Helen Wilkinson on 0771 966 7102, and Helen is happy to take calls over the Christmas and New Year break.


Society for Museum Archaeology survey – Are Museums Running Out of Space …?

Are Museums Running out of space, stuff…and time? Historic England and the Society for Museum Archaeology need your help. The Society for Museum Archaeology (SMA) is the subject specialist network for museum archaeology in the UK and is looking for museums’ help with a survey.

This year the SMA has partnered with Historic England to conduct a survey aimed at identifying all museums in England that have archaeology collections, and to establish which are continuing to collect archives from archaeological projects. They are also looking at the level of archaeological expertise present in museums, and they aim to find out how much space is left in museum stores for archaeology.

If your museum holds any archaeology at all, even if it’s just a scattering of surface finds or a box of pottery sherds, they want to hear from you. Please follow the link below. The survey uses Survey Monkey, and has been designed to take no longer than 10 minutes.

This is a cause which they have been looking at for some time – an SMA report published in 2012 identified over 9000 un-deposited archives in England alone. However, the impact of austerity since 2012 is currently unknown. A number of organisations are all working to find sustainable and positive solutions to the problem. The project will support this collaborative approach, from funder to fieldworker to museum, by providing valuable and accurate data on which future responses to the crisis can be based.

The survey will be repeated each year for three years, with the findings presented towards the end of each year and a final report due in 2018. It is hoped that the intelligence gathered will inform discussions on the future of archaeological archive provision in England at a time when there is growing uncertainty over the role of museums and the ways they are resourced.


Screen Shot of all survey respondents mapped on Google maps. The Blue Icon represents museums who have given forwarded their collecting policies, red those who have yet to do so

The SMA is entirely membership run – all members of the committee volunteer their time to help run the society for its members. With almost 250 members across the UK and abroad they are one of the largest SSN’s in the UK.

The survey is led by team of three SMA committee members, and they are supported by team of 7 regional reps around England providing local knowledge and expertise. At the time of writing they have had 140 respondents, but they hope to reach 200 by the end of September.

Any questions or comments please contact Nick Booth, SMA Membership Secretary / Head of Collections at the ss Great Britain on

Dates for AIM Trustee Seminars Announced

As part of the AIM Hallmarks Governance Programme, AIM is launching a new series of in-depth seminars for trustees of museums, galleries and heritage organisations. These seminars build on the introductory regional workshops for trustees held in March and April and offer greater insight into some of the topics raised by attendees at those events.

All the seminars are free and open to trustees who are members of AIM or come from AIM member organisations. For further information about any of the seminars or to book your place please email:

Engaging Board Meetings, led by Anne Murch and Gaby Porter

Manchester, 7th July, 12.30 – 4.30pm or London, 19th October, 11.30 – 3.30pm

Strengthening the Chair/Chief Executive Relationship, led by Hilary Barnard and Ruth Lesirge

London, 15th July, 11.30 – 3.30pm or York, 12th December, 11.30 – 3.30pm

For this seminar, we strongly encourage Chief Executives and Chairs of Trustees to attend as a pair.

Reviewing your Board for Succession Planning, led by Joy Allen of Leading Governance

28th September, Birmingham, 11.30 – 3.30pm or 14th November, London, 11.30 – 3.30pm

There will be more information about all of these seminars in the first edition of the AIM Trustee e-Newsletter, published later this month. To sign up for this free new round up of information, news and opportunities of particular relevance to Trustees, please email: or visit

The AIM Hallmarks Governance Programme is supported by Arts Council England and sponsored by Development Partners.

AIM Tender Opportunity

Many museums are facing difficult financial times and are looking at ways of increasing their income. For an increasing number this includes considering introducing admission charges.

For museums thinking of taking this step, there are many strongly held views to consider. There are plenty of examples of successful museums that do charge for admission, but there is a paucity of evidence about what the impact of moving from free admission to a charged model might be: on their museum’s visitors, reputation, visitor income and secondary spend.

AIM, working with Arts Council England, wishes to commission research which will fill this gap and enable museums to make evidence-based decisions about whether charging for admission is right for them, how to manage the transition effectively and what the impacts might be.

Proposals are invited from consultants with experience of this type of study and should be submitted by 19th January 2016.

The brief and details of how to submit a proposal can be downloaded below.

Invitation to Tender AIM Admission charges

Investing in museums’ futures: AIM Hallmarks Fund

The AIM Hallmarks Investment Fund is now open for applications. The closing date for the first round is 5 February 2016. The fund is open to AIM member, Accredited (or working towards Accreditation) museums in England and will make investments of between £5000 and £15000 to help museums develop in line with the AIM Hallmarks.

The investment fund is part of AIM’s Hallmarks and Investing in Independence programme which is funded by Arts Council England. The programme also includes in-depth training programmes, which are also currently open for applications, online resources which will be developed over the next two years and a programme to support museum boards and trustees to be launched in 2016. Together these elements can help museums focus on the key issues which will help them prosper and thrive – as outlined in the Hallmarks.

The Investment Fund will support museums to develop in any element of the Hallmarks: purpose; leadership and culture; governance; innovation and risk; awareness and networks, visitor focus, collections and finance.

Work funded by an AIM Hallmarks Award must be demonstrably central to an applicant museum’s organisational development, and closely linked to the museum’s strategic plan. Museums must be able to show that the work undertaken using the grant could not have taken place without external support.

We are keen to support projects which have the potential to offer helpful lessons to other museums and that are genuinely new for the applicant organisation. This might involve trialling approaches or ways of working which are either wholly new to the museum sector, or new to museums of a particular kind or size.

More information about the Investment fund can be found on the AIM Website, along with the application form and guidance notes. Museums are invited to talk to Helen Wilkinson before making an application – please contact her at

Museum Enablers: New Learning Programme for People who Help Museums

For the first time the museum sector has an in depth training programme specifically for people who help museums prosper and thrive – museum development officers, freelance consultants and anyone else whose role is to support museums.

Applications to take part in the programme are now invited. It was launched by the Association of Independent Museums on 8th December 2015 at an event examining the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums which underpin the programme. Speakers included Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England (ACE) – ACE is funding the programme. Because of this it is open to people working with English museums. If you are interested in the programme but from other parts of the UK please contact Helen Wilkinson to discuss (details at the end of the blog).

The programme will be led by experience third sector consultants HBRL Consulting. It will help participants understand the issues that impact on organisational resilience and develop their own consultancy skills to support museums more effectively. It will

  • Develop individual knowledge, skills, confidence and insights of participants to support their contribution to the museum sector
  • Enable museum sector to benefit from increased knowledge, skills and confidence of individual enablers
  • Foster cohort of enablers who are able to contribute to sustaining the growing independence of museums
  • Encourage others to embed the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums throughout the museum sector

The course includes residential elements, opportunities to shadow consultants or museum leaders and action learning sessions between the residential elements and the development of a peer network.

Details of the course outline and content as well information about how to apply, fees and practical arrangements can all be found on the AIM website’s Hallmarks pages.

The deadline for applications is 29 January 2016.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity please contact Helen Wilkinson – .

This programme is funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund.

2015 Spending Review and what it means for AIM members

There was good news and some surprises in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review announcements in the House of Commons on 25th November. Unusually, museums featured in his speech. The long-made argument that funding for culture is an investment appeared to have won through. He stated,

Britain’s not just brilliant at science. It’s brilliant at culture too. One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport. £1 billion a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to our economy – not a bad return. So deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy.

Although the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) received a 20% cut in its administration costs, in an unexpectedly good settlement, funding for the national museums was guaranteed for the next four years at current levels and Arts Council England was given a small increase of £10m in funding until 2019/2020.

The implications for museums in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will be more apparent once those nations have set their budgets in the new year. Each country received a small, real-terms reduction in its allocations for the next four years.

Key announcements for museums and heritage were:

  • Increase in funding to Arts Council England, which Arts Council has said means their funding for National Partner Organisations and Major Partner Museums will be guaranteed until 2018.
  • Commitment to explore a tax relief for museum exhibitions, similar to the tax credit already available to theatres and orchestras
  • £500,000 towards plans to celebrate the anniversary of the Mayflower in Plymouth
  • £150 million to support the British Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum to replace out of date museum storage at Blythe House
  • £5m to support Manchester Museum to create a new South Asia Gallery, in partnership with the British Museum
  • £20 million investment to expand the Great Exhibition of the North and to create a new Great Exhibition Legacy Fund
  • Other museums to benefit included Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the Royal Marines Museum and D-Day Museum in Portsmouth. Military museums will benefit from Libor fines
  • £1m to create a lasting legacy for Hull’s UK City of Culture 2017 and prepare for the next UK City of Culture
  • A commitment to ensure the new English Heritage has a viable future.
  • Commitment to free admission for national museums and maintenance of their current funding.

Arts Council England and others are welcoming this very successful outcome for museums and the arts. The concerted effort to put across a positive message about the value that comes from investment in culture seems to have been successful.

Nevertheless, the implications for museums run by local authorities or who receive funding from their councils, are concerning, given the further cuts to local authority budgets which the Chancellor announced.

AIM members will also be affected by other areas of the budget. Key points include:

  • £40m Discover England investment fund to boost tourism across England.
  • The Charity Commission’s funding is being held until 2019/2020, which will be a real-terms cut. NCVO report that they are expected to start a consultation on charging for some services.
  • The call for evidence to inform the review of Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme has been brought forward to December 2015 – AIM would be pleased to hear members’ comments on this to inform our response.
  • An exemption for charities so they are not required to pay a tax on loans or advances made by close companies to charity trustees for charitable purposes.

There was no new announcement on business rates but it was confirmed that local authorities will be retaining 100% of the income from business rates. The anticipated announcement about whether charitable rate relief would be protected did not materialise. AIM remains concerned about the potential implications of this for both discretionary and mandatory rate relief, upon which so many of our member museums rely. An announcement is now expected in the budget in the Spring.

Further statements on the Spending Review:

Arts Council England

Heritage Alliance

Third Sector


National Museum Directors’ Conference

The case for museums used by National Museum Directors’ Conference before the Spending Review – Museum Matters

Support the Heritage Alliance’s petition to the Chancellor

The Heritage Alliance is calling on the Government to take into consideration key points during the Spending Review process this summer.

They say, “At a time when the Treasury is reviewing how public spending cuts of around £19 billion will be spread across unprotected departments in the Spending Review this Autumn 2015, it is more important than ever that you make the UK Government aware of the value of heritage to England’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing. Please sign the petition … and add your voice.”

The petition calls for on the Government to allow our heritage to realise its full potential:

*We need an efficient and effective planning system with a heritage protection regime that is far-sighted, fair and respected.

*Sufficient specialist heritage expertise at national and local level to facilitate economic recovery.

*Private and third sector owners should be incentivised to undertake regular repair and maintenance.

To achieve these objectives in the Spending Review, we urge you to ensure that:

1. The Departments with responsibility for our heritage in England, primarily DCMS and DCLG, work smarter and more collaboratively so that heritage matters have appropriate priority and leadership within Government.
2. Central Government supports and sustains Historic England as the crucial national enabling agency for our heritage.

This petition follows the Heritage Alliance’s recent Take Action Campaign, which called on the heritage sector to write to their MP about the value of heritage in their local area.

The petition is to support heritage generally and will be particularly relevant to museums who are also concerned with heritage landscapes and built heritage.

Details of how to sign the petition can be found here. Heritage Alliance Petition.

AIM is a member of the Heritage Alliance. The Heritage Alliance is was established in 2002 as Heritage Link. It is the biggest alliance of heritage interests in the UK. Its mission is to champion a strong and prominent independent heritage sector.


New Arts Council England Funding Programmes and Darren Henley Speech

Thank you to our colleagues at Museum Development North West for this summary of Arts Council England’s new funding programmes (not specific to museums) plus a link to the first speech from Darren Henley, ACE’s new Chief Executive.

Museum Development North West

From ACE:

Ambition for excellence
Our new Ambition for excellence fund launches today. We’ll be investing £35.2 million in helping organisations produce high quality and spectacular events and works of art, particularly outside London. The fund will develop talent and leadership in organisations as well as supporting individual creative projects.

Creative writing in schools
The Creative writing in schools fund has been launched today which will place professional writers in schools. Developed specifically for deprived areas and with low levels of arts engagement in the North and South West of England, the programme will inspire children through high quality workshops and residencies.

Large Capital programme
Our Large Capital grant programme has returned for 2015-18. Continuing our work of improving arts infrastructure with National Lottery funds, we’re planning on investing £88 million the length and breadth of England.

Creative people and places opportunity
There’s now an opportunity for existing Creative people and…

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AIM is recruiting for an Assistant Director

AIM is looking for a strategic-thinker who is great at developing relationships, to take on the new position of Assistant Director. This is a great opportunity for someone looking for a leadership role to work with AIM’s energetic staff team and high-profile Council, to shape and deliver an ambitious new programme to support museums and help them to prosper. 

If you are interested in applying please download and read the following documents:

How to apply – AIM Assistant Director

Job Description and Person Specification – AIM Assistant Director

Introduction to AIM – Assistant Director

Job Advertisement for AIM Assistant Director

 £34,000 to £36,000, Full-time, Working From Home, (4 days per week may be considered)

A rare opportunity to join a growing and successful organisation in a high profile, strategic and extremely varied role, making a practical difference to large and small independent museums and heritage organisations across the UK.

AIM works hard to help and support its 1000+ members – some of the UK’s most innovative, resourceful and passionately-run museums and heritage organisations. This is an exciting time for AIM: our small, friendly staff team is expanding and we have a high-profile, exciting, new project to deliver, which will help our members prosper through developing their organisation’s purpose, culture, governance and leadership.

You will play a central role in both AIM and the ‘AIM Hallmarks and Investing in Independence’ project, working with leading museum directors, consultants and AIM’s Executive Director to ensure our new project is delivered to the highest standards and achieves AIM’s ambitions. Your strengths should be in:

  • Seeing the ‘big picture’ and planning and prioritising accordingly
  • Building relationships
  • Managing and delivering projects and reporting on progress at a senior level

You will be friendly and approachable, confident and reliable working on your own initiative, but enjoy the stimulus of collaborating with others. We will ensure that you have excellent opportunities for personal development whilst working with AIM. For more information about AIM visit

This is a new position with a fixed-term contract to 31 March 2018. Hours are flexible.  

To apply: email a maximum two page letter explaining why you would like the job and how you meet the requirements in the person specification, with a copy of your CV (maximum 3 pages), to Please state any access requirements for the interview. Your application should arrive by 1pm on Monday 11th May 2015.

Interviews will be in London on 20th or 21st May 2015.

If you’d like to discuss the role please email Tamalie Newbery, AIM’s Executive Director, at to arrange a mutually convenient time.

This position is funded by Arts Council England. ACE Twitter