The Museums Association Salary Survey 2017

The Museums Association has a long track record of publishing salary guidelines for the sector. Incomes Data Research are an independent specialist pay research organisation, working on behalf of The Museums Association to update and analyse this work.

Your participation in this survey will be hugely valuable. By completing the survey, you will help to create a clear and accurate benchmarking tool which can be used by museums and museum employees across the UK.


Who should fill in this survey?

The relevant person in your museum with a good oversight of pay and benefits. In larger museums, this is likely to be a member of the Human Resources or Finance department.

What is the deadline?

The deadline is 5pm Friday 10th February, and the results will be freely available on The Museums Association website in the spring.

How to complete this survey?

To participate please follow the link below. You will be able to save and edit your responses until the survey closes. The survey is also available as a PDF which can be downloaded below.

Survey online: The Museums Association Salary Survey 2017

Survey PDF: museums-survey

All information collected in the survey will be treated as confidential and in line with the Data Protection Act. No museum will be named in the analysis, so you can be assured that your responses will remain anonymous.

If you have any questions, please contact Claire de Bond on 01702 330651 or


Arts Council England Welcomes Evidence Of Cultural Shift

Arts Council England today launched its diversity data report Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case 2015/16 at their Power Through Diversity event in Manchester. The Report shows that there are signs of a cultural shift emerging around workforce, with more black and minority representation, but that more progress was needed, particularly in the area of disabled representation.

For the first time the Arts Council has collected and published data on the socio-economic profile of audiences. The report shows that those most actively involved in arts and culture tend to be from the most privileged parts of society. This adds to previous research from DCMS’s Taking Part surveys which looked at the diversity of audiences and revealed that Black, minority ethnic, and disabled audiences continue to be underrepresented.


Speaking at the event, Arts Council England’s Chief Executive Darren Henley said, “Our challenge is to remain focused on that mission – to bring great art and culture to everyone.” Darren, who has authored two Government reports on the importance of cultural education, said: “From cultural education, through apprenticeships, training and skills, to higher education, to leadership opportunities. We need to see where the barriers and gaps are, and how we can overcome these. Any young person, whether disabled or not, black, Asian or working-class white, urban or rural, should feel that if they’ve got the talent and the commitment, we’re offering them a roadmap to success.”

It is also the first time the Arts Council has collected diversity data on leadership. The data reveals that women, and people who identified as Black, minority ethnic or disabled, are underrepresented in boards and senior roles in the arts and culture sector. Darren called for sustained investment in talent across the sector: “That means putting diverse talent at the centre of our work and at the top of our organisations.”

He also reiterated the Art Council’s commitment to capturing reliable data as this remains crucial to the sector’s case for public investment. He said, “We must be able to present an accurate picture of progress and of problems, and when we identify those problems, what we’re going to do about them.”


Arts Council England’s Chief Executive Darren Henley said, “Our challenge is to remain focused on that mission – to bring great art and culture to everyone.”

Key report findings include:

Sector Workforce (pages 10-18 of the report):

From data submitted by National Portfolio Organisations we see that:

17 % of the workforce is Black and minority ethnic

4% of the workforce identifies as disabled

55% of the workforce are female

The most represented age group was aged between 20 and 34, which made up 29% of the workforce

From data submitted by Major Partner Museums we see that:

7% of the workforce is Black and minority ethnic

4% of the workforce identifies as disabled

62% of the workforce are female

The most represented age group was aged between 20 and 34, which made up 17% of the workforce

Leadership (page 18):

8% of chief executives, 10% of artistic directors, and 9% of chairs, are black and minority ethnic.

5% of the Chief Executives, Artistic Directors and Chairs have a disability.

And although well over half of the sector workforce is female, percentages are lower in the most senior positions: 43% of Chief Executives, 28% of Artistic Directors and 32% of Chairs are women

Arts Council England’s Workforce (p29):

11% of the workforce and 18% of directors are Black and minority ethnic

4% of the workforce identifies as disabled

65% workforce are female

Download a copy of the Arts Council’s report here:

Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case 2015/16

A full copy of Darren Henley’s speech is available from the Arts Council England press office. Please email:






Museums And Galleries Encouraged To Mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2017

Looking ahead to Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2017 on 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) has produced free guides and resources to help museums and galleries organise events and activities.

Over 5,590 local activities took place to mark HMD 2016. HMDT hopes to build on this by supporting more museums and galleries to get involved and mark HMD 2017.

The theme for 2017 is How can life go on? The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations. HMD 2017 asks audiences to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. This year’s theme is broad and open ended, there are few known answers.


Stained glass window created by the Institute for Conflict Research in Belfast

Museums and galleries are ideally placed to commemorate HMD and, as community-based organisations which regularly communicate powerful messages to the public, you are often able to use collections and expertise in learning and interpretation to engage and inspire local communities. You can find a dedicated guide for Museums and Galleries with advice on how to mark HMD here.

Free Activity Packs are available to order from the HMDT website here, which include further guidance on how to plan an event or activity, posters for a display, a badge, sticker sheet and a sample About HMD booklet. You can also find other free resources, including arts resources and education materials for different age groups.

For more information about how your museum or gallery can get involved with Holocaust Memorial Day 2017, please contact:

Phone: 020 7785 7029


A dedicated guide for Museums and Galleries with advice on how to mark HMD can be downloaded here: museums-and-galleries-get-involved-guide-for-hmd


AIM Survey 2016: Please Tell Us What You Think

We are thinking about how AIM can better help heritage organisations prosper in the next few years and we’d really like to know what you think. We’ve put together a survey to help you share your views with us and we’d be grateful if you would take five or ten minutes to complete it.

You are welcome to complete the survey even if you are not an AIM member.

Survey link: AIM Membership Survey 2016

Last time we asked you to complete a survey like this (in 2014) we were thrilled at the response and it made a big difference to what we do. The results were used by AIM Council to help develop our planning for 2015-18 and helped us create the Hallmarks of Prospering Museums.

It also helped us to secure the £900,000 investment from Arts Council England and funds from the Welsh Government, which are being used now through our Hallmarks programmes of leadership development, grants and governance support. Most of all – it helps us understand your challenges and how we can do more to help you. 


The survey is primarily designed for people working in or supporting heritage organisations, so some of the questions may not be relevant if you are a supplier or consultant member (and thank you again to those of our suppliers and consultants who completed our survey for you last year.)

Please consider sharing this link with colleagues in the museum and heritage sector.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to let us know what you think. We will share the results with you in the February Bulletin and on the AIM blog.

If you have thoughts that don’t fit in the survey, please email me as well at 

Tamalie Newbery

Executive Director (AIM)


Update On Exhibition Tax Relief – Still Time To Call For All Museums To Benefit

AIM met with HM Treasury and HMRC last week to urge them to open the exhibition tax relief up to all museums, so that the public can benefit from better exhibitions at their local museum, wherever they live in the UK. The current proposals mean only a handful of museums will benefit, with the bulk of the relief claimed going to the nationals in London, whose temporary exhibitions often cost more than new exhibitions for a whole museum in the regions.

There is still time for this relief to be extended to all exhibitions, which would then save all museums 20% of the costs of creating and installing all new exhibitions, whether they are temporary, touring or part of the core visitor-offer for that museum. At a time when funding for new exhibitions is becoming increasingly difficult to find, this could be a vital life-line, enabling museums to ensure their core exhibitions meet the public’s growing expectations and deliver fantastic experiences. It couldn’t be more needed.

AIM members are urged to email the consultation team at HM Treasury and to copy in AIM using the email addresses below, to point out the benefits to the people visiting their museum of making all exhibitions eligible, especially if they don’t or can’t do temporary exhibitions, for instance because of not having space for them. Unless they hear from museums across the UK they will not be convinced that this is what the sector wants. Emails should be sent to:

 And also:

 Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director, AIM at:

 The deadline is 28th October 2016. This policy will apply to the whole UK.


 Photo: Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Photographer: Hannah Rose

During AIM’s meeting at HM Treasury, AIM’s Chair, Richard Evans and Executive Director, Tamalie Newbery, were able to explain why temporary exhibitions are only used by a minority of museums and how the public’s core experience of museums is in long-term exhibitions, and therefore this is where investment through tax relief should be available.

They were also able to reassure officials that including all exhibitions in the tax relief would not result in complications in the guidance as the current proposed guidance works equally well for exhibitions of any length. Museums are easily able to separate exhibition costs from those of wider capital projects (they are usually separately tendered and funders require this degree of separation in reporting) and there is clarity about the opening dates (after which the tax relief would not apply) for long-term exhibitions, just as for short ones.

They have also been able to share figures with HM Treasury and HMRC based on data about HLF funded projects, which shows that including all exhibitions would be likely to add a very small amount to the total annual tax relief claim, when compared with the amounts claimed by other creative industry tax reliefs.

Some AIM members have been concerned that because the mechanism for the relief is corporation tax, they will not be eligible. Tamalie Newbery has been reassuring them: “Charities can still benefit from the tax relief even if they do not pay corporation tax. The mechanism for achieving this has been tested through the orchestra and theatre tax relief which is often claimed by charities. Claims are often made through an associated trading company but can be made by the main charity if it is a limited company or similar. AIM will be offering guidance to members when the tax relief starts in April next year.”

AIM has been working closely with Museums Association, NMDC and others to persuade the government of the need to open this up to all exhibitions. Please add your voice now by emailing Treasury using the email address above, by emailing Tamalie Newbery and if possible, writing to your MP.

What’s Needed Next? One Month On From The AIM Evaluating The Evidence Report On Admission Charging

Nearly a month after AIM launched its new Success Guide –  Successfully Setting Admission Policy and Pricing – and the research behind it (jointly commissioned with Arts Council England and the Welsh Government), we’ve been speaking to AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner, about how the research has been received and what next steps are needed to help museums; including further research to support museums to attract more diverse visitors.


AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner

AIM: Matthew, you introduced this research at the launch event in Cardiff on 8 September and you are speaking about it at the Visitor Attractions Conference in London this week. Why do you think it is so important for museums to have evidence to support their decisions about whether to charge for admission or not?

Matthew Tanner: Whether to charge or not to charge for admission is a question that many people want to see addressed – so AIM has looked in detail at the problem in this research report. There is a wealth of practical information in the report to help any museum considering making changes to its admissions policy – helping us all understand on a rational basis the impact of our decisions. The truth is until now, there has been too little hard evidence in terms of the impact of charging for admission, which has led to people sometimes taking entrenched positions based on politics and emotion, rather than on data and analysis.

AIM seeks an evidence based contribution to this issue, so that it can support museums with all or any charging models. What this report does is to provide evidence and offer a fresh start, moving us past a debate which had become rather sterile. For the landscape is much more complicated than is often acknowledged. The research showed 37% of independent museums have free entry policies and 37% of local authority museums charge.

We wanted to make sure that the overall tone of the work is equally inclusive of both museums that charge and that don’t. We avoid a tone that ‘justifies’ charging museums, but it is useful to highlight some of the presumptions people sometimes make unthinkingly.

AIM: One of the findings, which has surprised some people, is that there is little difference in the socio-economic background, or in other diversity characteristics, between the visitors to free-entry museums and those that charge admission. Why is this important to recognise?

Matthew Tanner: It has been an old and lazy habit to assume that some museums are entirely free, and that’s always good, and some are not – and that is not so good. We know it’s much more complex, and that simplistic view simply cannot stand any longer.

For example, AIM Visitor Verdict shows AB social grades clearly account for the highest individual group – 60% for paid admission and 62% for free admission museums. Whereas, for the UK as a whole these groups accounted for 22% of the population. Conversely, the proportions of visitors falling within the C2 and DE groups (25% for paid admission museums and 20% for free admission museums), were much lower than the national picture, where close to 47% of people are in these groups[1].

At AIM National Conference in Edinburgh this year, Sir Peter Luff called for a greater mix and diversity of visitors – we need to now to respond and move the conversation on and away from ‘charging museums being inaccessible’ or ‘free ones being full of visitors from diverse backgrounds’. Whether a museum charges or not has little or no effect on the diversity of its audience – other factors are much more important. Some museums moving from charging to free do report increases in visitors, particularly from local people, but note this should not be confused with diversity – there is no change in the overall diversity of visitors in those situations[2].


AIM’s Vice Chair, Matthew Tanner, with Jonathan Durnin and Dr Stephen Connolly from DC Research at the launch of the admissions report on 8 September

AIM: So what do we know about why few people from the C2, D and E socio-economic grades visit museums?

Matthew Tanner: One of the significant findings of the National Survey for Wales is in relation to barriers to entry to museums for Welsh residents. The survey asked respondents to indicate the reasons why they did not visit a museum, and found that the cost of visiting was one of the lowest given reasons, with just 3% expressing this as a reason for not visiting. The most common reasons were a lack of interest (31%) and difficulty in finding the time to visit (30%).  A further 19% indicated that it had never occurred to them to visit a museum in any case.

There are of course museums that are the exception to this pattern around social mix of visitors – e.g. Beamish and the Black Country Living Museum, achieving a social mix and diversity of visitor that reflects their community, but these are not distinguished by whether they charge for admissions or not, and this broad pattern needs to be acknowledged.

AIM: If it is not being free or charging that is creating the barriers to a more diverse audience… then what is it? And how can we overcome it?

Matthew Tanner: Wouldn’t we all like to know? Well yes we would. So I took the opportunity of the launch of the report last month, to call on Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government to commission vital new research into understanding the real cultural and practical barriers that prevent real reach and diversity in our audiences, and enable us to overcome these barriers. ACE, HLF and others should be encouraged to research beneath the waves around the diversity iceberg so that we can all benefit.

Reaching out to all, whether we need to charge or need to be free, is a common aim – we need to understand in common how we can best reach that target. I am pleased to say that this call for further research has already been heeded by others in the sector and AIM is putting together a group to work on commissioning this next vital piece of research.

AIM would like to hear from any museums that have a diverse mix of visitors and would be willing to be considered as case studies in any future research. Please contact

To access the Success Guide and all reports associated with this research, please visit: Evaluating the Evidence The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums

  1. AIM Report section 3.7 & passim
  2. AIM Report passim



To Charge Or Not To Charge? AIM Launches Admissions Charging Research

AIM has just published new research to help museums understand the impact of charging for admission, or not, on all aspects of operating a successful museum. The revealing results dispel some myths that persist around this issue and will enable museums to make evidence-based decisions in this sometimes contentious area – but one that is vital to museums’ future sustainability. The research report is accompanied by a practical guide that museums can use to help them make decisions about whether an admission charge is right for their museum and if so, what price they should set.

AIM commissioned the study, ‘Taking Charge: evaluating the evidence’, and its accompanying guide for people running museums ‘Successfully Setting Admissions Policy and Pricing’ from DC Research, in partnership with Arts Council England and the Welsh Government.  It was launched this morning in Cardiff. The aim of the research was to understand the experience of museums that have moved from free admission to charging, or vice versa, or to hybrid models, and to investigate pricing strategies and their impact on visitor numbers, diversity, income, visitor satisfaction, and reputation and relationships.

The report and practical guide are now available to download from the AIM website or from the bottom of this page in English and the latter also in Welsh

To Charge Or Not To Charge? AIM Launches Admissions Charging Research


Photo ©The Historic Dockyard, Chatham

Key findings from the research included:

*A large proportion of independent museums provide free admission, and a large proportion of local authority museums charge, so there is no ‘typical’ charging or free-entry museum.

*What a museum charges has no effect on the diversity of its audience – both charging and free-entry museums have similar demographic profiles for their visitors.

*Spend in shops and cafes, as well as donations from visitors, are more impacted by other factors than whether a museum charges for admission or not.

The research is very timely as an increasing number of museums are thinking about introducing admission charges, in response to reductions in local authority funding. However, it also has valuable information for museums considering introducing free admission and for those that already have an admission charge. The research showed there was usually little impact in terms of visitor number or diversity when prices were increased and a wide range of charging structures, some very innovative, are highlighted.

AIM Chair, Richard Evans said: “I warmly welcome this important report and hope it will help all of us that work in the sector – guiding us to make much better decisions in the future.  In the experience of many AIM members I know its key findings will ring true. There is a wealth of practical information in the report to help anyone considering making changes to their admission policy – helping us understand much better the impact of our decisions.  Those museums that do not charge have highlighted the importance of this policy to their local stakeholders and funders, for example.  Those museums that do charge benefit from longer visitor dwell time and often a higher visitor spend in shops and cafes.”

The research included a review of previous literature on the subject, a sector-wide survey of museums across the UK, visits to 20 case study museums and one-to-one consultations with key museum stakeholders.

“Crucially, the report highlights that the diversity of a museum’s audience is not affected by any decision to charge entry or allow free access.  This is really important because museums that charge are sometimes seen as providing less benefit to the public than those that allow free entry.  Cost is sometimes understood to be a barrier to access – but the research highlights that this is not the case,” said Richard Evans, AIM Chair.

A series of documents relating to this research is available to download below.

Practical guidance for museums is available in the new AIM Success Guide: Successfully Setting Admissions Policy and Pricing


Gosod Polisi a Phrisio Mynediadau yn Llwyddiannus

Executive Summary: Taking Charge – Evaluating the Evidence:  The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums  

Final Report: Taking Charge – Evaluating the Evidence:  The Impact of Charging or Not for Admissions on Museums   

Summary Report For Wales

WG and ACE logos largeUntitled

Museums Need To Act To Ensure The Exhibition Tax Relief Benefits Everyone

The government is proposing a major new way of investing in museums and galleries, through an exhibition tax relief. But the current proposals will exclude hundreds of museums across the UK by limiting the tax relief to temporary and touring exhibitions. We are urging AIM members to respond to the government’s consultation to ensure that the tax relief is fair and that every member of the public, whether their local museum has temporary exhibitions or not, has the potential to benefit.

The government’s recent support for museums is extremely welcome: a number of individual museums have benefited from grants from libor fines and most recently, in 2016 Budget, it was announced that the 20% tax relief already available to the film industry, orchestras, theatres and others, would be extended to museums and galleries for exhibitions.

This is very positive, but there is a sting in the tail. The proposal is that the tax relief will only apply to touring and temporary exhibitions (defined as open to the public for less than a year), meaning hundreds of museums across the country won’t benefit because they have no space for temporary exhibitions. Additionally, this does not recognise that the core product of museums is high quality interpretation with a typical life-span longer than a year – as it is these the majority of the public visit, this is where the government’s investment needs to be made to be most effective.


Photo: ©The Lightbox, Woking

Ever since the idea of this tax relief was first mooted last year, AIM has been working behind the scenes to help HM Treasury to understand why applying the relief only to short-duration exhibitions will be unfair and limit the government’s ability to achieve its aims through the tax relief. However, the proposals which are now out for consultation still only include temporary and touring exhibitions.

Your help is needed to ensure that this tax relief can benefit all museums and galleries, and achieve the government’s objective of ensuring everyone in the country has access to high quality, creative, museum experiences. Tax credits for other industries were substantially modified as a result of the consultation responses, so it is really important that the government hears from as many museums and galleries as possible about how the tax relief will help them deliver better experiences to the public but the importance of not putting an artificial time-frame on the duration of exhibitions. More help with points you might want to include will be available on the AIM website soon.

The consultation document is published here:

The deadline for responses is 28 October 2016.

In the meantime, AIM is collecting evidence for our response on behalf of independent museums and galleries, so please contact Tamalie Newbery via email:

With any thoughts, comments or examples. Please also send us copies of any responses you make to the consultation or letters you write to your MP.

AIM Members Are Fizzing With Innovation

To discover what inspiring projects AIM members are running at their own organisations, we introduced a new strand at AIM conference this year called ‘Three Minute Museum Fizzers’. Museums and those working in the UK heritage sector were invited to take part and tell the conference audience all about an entrepreneurial project or idea that has impacted positively on their organisation, local community or other stakeholders – all in just three minutes.

Independent museums are well known for creating enterprising projects that encourage social cohesion, income generation or more effective ways of working and the Museum Fizzers strand was developed to celebrate and promote these projects. The six entries each showcased innovative ideas that reflected the resourceful, ‘can do’ attitude of the independent sector.

First to take her place under the spotlight was George Oates, Director of Museum in a Box The project allows you to create a box of replica objects from museums around the world and have it sent to your school or your office or to home. George said:

“Museum in a Box puts museum collections and expert knowledge into your hands, wherever you are in the world. Our working design question is “How can we update the classic museum loan box for the internet age, and how might that improve understanding and engagement with museums?” We’re prototyping towards an answer that’s a genuine, tactile mix of replica objects and contextual content direct from museum curators and educators.”


Photo: courtesy of Museum in a Box

Then Hayley McCafferty-David, Project Manager, West Midlands Museum Partnership, Black Country Living Museum, explained about a new CRM system that has made a big difference at the museum.

“Following an extensive procurement process Black Country Living Museum launched an integrated CRM system in January 2016. This system, which brings together all of the key areas for running a paid museum in one place, also allows bespoke communications with stakeholders at all levels. Tessitura are a well-established North American organisation with clients in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden to name a few. In the UK they are the CRM supplier to some of our most famous cultural establishments including the Royal Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall. BCLM is proud to be the first UK museum to have Tessitura as its CRM system.”

AIM Fizzers Black Country Living Museum picture

Photo: courtesy of Black Country Living Museum  

We then heard from Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, about an emotive project being run on the Isle of Lewis. Annie told us:

“Comunn Eachdraidh Nis based in the north of the Isle of Lewis has undertaken several projects to commemorate WW1. 900 local men were involved in the war with 214 losing their lives. The projects include: A poppy trail where large poppies were mounted at the homes of those lost, an exhibition with artefacts pertaining to the WW1, a major publication Dol Fodha na Grèine (The Going Down of the Sun) , which was shortlisted for a Saltire award as well as a number of other booklets, a mural, a painting commission and forthcoming trip this September to the battlefields of France and Belgium for 40 members of the local community.”      


Photo: Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society

Dr Sophie Forgan from The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, then stepped forward to present an uplifting and fun project that is now touring other museums. Sophie said:

“Stubbs’ iconic portrait of a kangaroo came to us on tour from the National Maritime, so how to highlight the presence of this extraordinary painting?  Why, a willow sculpture to stand in the entrance courtyard! Get to grips with the subject!  Something special was inside! Glasgow’s Hunterian grabbed him for the next stage of the tour.  Now in Middlesbrough, where will he hop next? Touched, photographed, hugged, Facebooked, talked about, acted around – ‘Stubbsy’ provided a wonderful counterpoint to Stubbs. What else has he inspired?  I will tell you…”

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Photo: courtesy of The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, then took to the stage to charm us all with an enchanted project…

“Enchanted Palace was a radical and innovative visitor experience at Kensington Palace which took place between 2010 and 2012. The concept was that the capital project building works were shaking the stories out of the building; visitors were on a quest to discover the seven princesses who had once lived there. We worked with theatre company Wildworks to create an enchanted world in the State Apartments. The purpose was to retain visitors and income, and raise awareness of the transformed palace opening in 2012. Enchanted Palace was the most challenging visitor experience Historic Royal Palaces has ever done. Although it ended in early 2012, its legacy is still influencing our work today.”


Photo: Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace

Fran Burke-Lloyd, Chair of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum, then presented the final fizzer entry which showcased an innovative way of engaging young people at the museum:

“We needed to keep the interest of the younger visitors to our museum without turning to games. What we have achieved is a story line using the history of the young children who worked in the tin plate museum. We gave a brief history of what the children once they had turned 11, had to do once at work, we shared out name tags representing family members from the past and walked through the museum having the group act out their parts in the family. One child would have the name Dai who represents the young boy who is about to start work in the tin plate works on his 11th birthday they then get to see what was expected from him. The children asked more questions and got really into the story line so much so that on more than one occasion I was asked what time they should come back to work.”


Photo: courtesy of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum

After hearing all entries, the conference audience voted and new AIM Chairman, Richard Evans, declared the winner to be Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, who was presented with a bottle of champagne. Thank you to all entrants this year and we look forward to hearing more innovative fizzer entries during conference in 2017 at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Independence is all about adapting to change and the times they are a-changing…

Richard Evans, Director of Beamish, one of the largest independent museums in the UK, took over as Chair of AIM at the conference last week. In his first contribution to the AIM blog, he reflects on the result of the referendum about Britain’s membership of the EU, which overshadowed the second day of conference.

Richard Evans 1

A strange cloud descended over the AIM conference on its second day – when many a bleary-eyed delegate awoke to what seemed like the surprising news of our Brexit. Some of us hadn’t slept at all.

So far we don’t seem to be very sure this cloud is actually going to produce any rain – for some it appears to have a silver lining – but for others, me included to be honest, it looks pretty dreary – a depressing and at times threatening narrative.

Of course AIM would never presume to try and tell you, our members, how to think. Imagine such a preposterous thing. The fact that the conference clashed with the vote was pure coincidence. We did warn Cameron it could affect turnout if he went for June – but somehow our letter was lost in the post.

Maybe I was bumping into the wrong people at conference – but what I will say is everyone I met on that Friday looked thoroughly “upset”. Rather stronger language was in fact used. The tone and simplistic populism of the debate had saddened so many. Is this really our country now – our home? What next?

There do seem to be lots of risks on the horizon. A possible recession putting even further pressure on public finances, risking further reductions in funding for museums. A leadership crisis in government (and it seems HM Opposition) resulting in a damaging divorce – and possibly the break up of the UK itself.

Most importantly perhaps for most of us – UK consumers could lose confidence – saving more for those rainy days. Putting those day or overnight visits to our museums off for a bit.

Let us hope not. We are an optimistic and resilient lot. And in the interests of balance a low pound does make the UK more attractive to international tourists. Hopefully our near neighbours aren’t so upset with us that they won’t come and visit. A strong pound could also perhaps make holidaying abroad less attractive for UK residents, boosting the ‘staycation’ market.

In the end – my suspicion is not all that much might actually change. We shall see. Call me wrong if you like – but if we can agree that the Free Market is essential for so many reasons it seems we may well end up in a Norway-like situation. Paying in and accepting the rules of the club as we need to play the game – just not willing or able to vote at the AGM where those rules are set.