Resilient Heritage Project
In partnership with Herefordshire Council, HMSSG has secured £39,300 from Heritage Lottery’s Resilient Heritage scheme to pay for a review by specialist consultants of the options for the Museum Service moving on to a sustainable, realistic business model for the future. This is taking account of the wider context of the Museum Service. Funding has also covered six months work by a Revenue Development Officer. Museum specialist consultants Prince and Pearce were engaged to start in September 2017, to find and examine the best sustainable models for funding, running and developing the Museum Service in future.
How can the Museum Service operate best within the wider context of the future of all the Council’s Cultural Services? It is necessary to consider other local heritage and cultural developments taking place, such as proposals for the future of the Library and Museum Building in Broad Street, ideas for the Broad Street area more widely, and the ‘Great Place’ Project.
A new governance and business model for the Museum must generate sufficient income to be sustainable and also invest in and develop improved, modern facilities, services and activities. It must suit all people’s needs and excite their interests, whether they are residents within the County or visitors. This project will provide guidance on how best to achieve that suitable sustainable and developmental model for the future. The consultants Prince and Pearce have now provided a full report with their recommendations and this has been summarised here
Prince and Pearce identified a cohort of potential partners who could contribute to a sustainable Museum Service either through expertise or financial support, over an immediate or longer term basis. These are identified as, but not limited to:
- HLF / Arts Council
- Rural Media
- The Courtyard Trust
- Herefordshire College of Arts
A two- stage process is recommended. The immediate aim is to expand the capacity of the Service through increased staffing levels, re-branding and greater access to the collections themselves, so energising the service, reversing shrinkage and allowing a return on the Council’s previous investment. Prince and Pearce recommend that as a first stage relationships be explored with partners or a network of partners, who could between them provide the financial, administrative, governance, digital and venue capacity required, and who have the capacity to respond quickly.
The report recognises that decisions as to these partnerships must be made through due process, and potentially could be informed by the soft market testing undertaken recently by Herefordshire Council. This early establishment of a short to medium-term framework sufficiently robust to sustain the Museum Service would be on a community interest or charitable trust basis, and central to the plan would be easy public access to the collections.
Revenue Development is also an important part of this project. One task is to seek funding for conservation work on two wall panels at the Black and White House, and another is to find ways of improving signposting (since some visitors have found it hard to find the entrance to the Black and White House), and retail opportunities. We are also hosting a concert “Back to the Garden” in March 2018.
Events to enrich our lives
In February and March 2017 local expert Robin Thorndyke entertained HMSSG members and guests to two lectures exploring the work and inspiration of local artist Brian Hatton. These were held to accompany the special exhibition of Brian’s paintings which was mounted in the art gallery to mark the centenary year of his death. Discover more about Brian Hatton here
We have supported museum staff at various events, such as a talk about the Black and white House by Charles Kightly, and re-enactment days.