Author Archives: Culture24

Museums at Nightclub opportunity: expression of interest form

A few months ago we introduced the idea of Museums at Nightclub: an artist-led, touring event series taking place in Autumn / Winter 2015, produced by a consortium of venues in conjunction with Culture24, taking place in areas with low engagement in the arts. It will feature artists who specialise in participatory arts events, and who have worked on the Connect10 project in previous years.

We are developing a proposal to submit to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme before Christmas, involving a partnership with venues. Could you be one of them?

Download the three page information pack to find out more about what will be involved.

We want to work with 16 venues from all over the country over the two year lifetime of the project, eight in the first year and again eight in year two. We want to submit the application with at least eight venues firmly committed to the project and at least eight more aiming for year two.

Venues from anywhere in England may express an interest but preference will be given to those identified by the Taking Part Survey (2008 – 2010) as being in the 118 local authority areas in the country with the lowest level of engagement in the arts.

We will read all the expression of interest forms submitted and contact everybody before inclusion in the final application. Inclusion in the application is not to be taken as a commitment by Culture24 to include your venue in the project.

The first stage of the project after receiving a positive decision would be to hold detailed discussions with the artists and interested venues. At this stage there are many aspects of the event that may lead us to need to prioritise one venue over another; diarising simultaneous events, artist schedules, facilities, technical considerations, progress of audience development planning and much more besides.

Want to get involved? Your next steps:

1) Download the Museums at Nightclub 3 page info pack and list of local authority areas of low arts engagement. You can still apply if your local authority isn’t listed here,

2) Discuss the opportunity with your team. Becoming part of the new Museums at Nightclub touring network will involve a lot of time and development work ahead of the events in autumn / winter 2015: do you have the capacity for this?

3) Phone Nick on 01273 623279 or Rosie on 01273 623336 for a discussion about how this opportunity would work for your organisation.

4) Want to apply? Download the list of application form questions, and start preparing your answers.

N.B. Please take a look at the list of questions from the expression of interest form first, to prepare your answers before filling in the form. The form is two pages long, involves a certain amount of detail about your target audiences, and must be completed in one sitting – you can’t save it and come back to it.  

5) Ready to submit your expression of interest? Please fill in this form by Friday 29 November.

Please get in touch with Nick or Rosie if you have any questions relating to this project, or if you can’t download the documents – we’re happy to email them to you.

Museums at Night 2014 stats: the infographic!

We’re delighted to share this infographic showing the top-line statistics for Museums at Night 2014. Thanks again to all the arts and heritage organisations that ran such successful events: it’s brilliant to see how popular the festival is!

Museums at Night 2014 evaluation executive summary

Here are those stats again, if you’d like to quote them:

During Museums at Night 2014, 500 venues ran 700 events.

100,000 visitors made 180,000 visits, with 33,000 people visiting a museum or gallery they’d never been to before.

The events were great: 98% of visitors rated their experience at 7/10 or higher, and 96% of visitors said they now felt inspired to visit more arts and heritage venues.

400,000 people watched the Saturday night BBC2 programme about Museums at Night.

The festival campaign attracted media coverage with an AVE of £3.4 million.

Hurrah!

 

Guest Post: Museum Alive brings mannequin drama to Chippenham Museum!

Our latest guest post comes from Melissa Barnett of Chippenham Museum, who explains how she involved a drama group in bringing the museum’s mannequins to life for Museums at Night.

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Any activity organised for Museums at Night has to be fun, should attract new audiences and should show off our collections to the best advantage.  This we did in bucket loads and we are still receiving the benefits.

The idea – and the challenge

We decided we wanted to take part in the festival at a late stage. We have no history of after-hours opening, however, and our town is quite deserted at nights. However, we wanted to get involved, so we thought we’d try something inexpensive and simple to organise and see how it turned out.

A group of children in a room with a large map

Children exploring Chippenham Museum (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

We knew that if we wanted to encourage visitors to make a special journey, something out of the ordinary was needed. However, our collections don’t include scary dinosaurs or mysterious mummies to tempt a trembling populace through our doors. So, building on the idea from the film Night at the Museum, we decided that our mannequins should come alive for the night!

a medieval woman with a basket

Is she a mannequin, or a medieval philanthropist waiting to come to life? (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Who is the audience?

As a small community museum, most of our visitors are returning families with primary school aged children. We decided that the best time to start our activity would be at 4.00 pm, after the museum closed but before tea and bedtime.

What we did

For maximum effect, we decided that our museum should be dark and that there should be an element of surprise.

We also wanted to make our activity not only fun, but also an educational experience. So each mannequin told their story in their own words. We chose real characters from our local history – a suffragette, a First World War soldier, an engineer and a medieval philanthropist.

A suffragette and banner

A suffragette with a banner tells her story (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

How we did it

We contacted a local community drama group,  Rag & Bone Arts, who agreed to act the parts for us. The museum supplied a short script for each character and provided costumes from our education store.

Having gained some confidence, we became bolder and perhaps a little carried away and decided that as we had suitable costumes, the staff and Friends groups could also get involved, acting as general characters such as a school teacher or a cook. Some of the actors’ children also wanted to get involved and dressed up as Victorian schoolchildren!

A Victorian Schoolroom

Schoolmistress and schoolchildren in the Victorian classroom (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

Museum Alive was the obvious event title: we made a poster in-house and circulated news of the event through social media.

Museums Alive poster

On the Night

We turned off the museum lights and blacked out the windows as the actors went to stand like mannequins in their correct setting: the cook in the Victorian kitchen, the suffragette next to her banner, the engineer near the railway exhibit. They posed as though they were mannequins – motionless.

Visitors were provided with a “special” torch and told to shine the torch on the mannequins as they explored the museum. The mannequins would then come alive, tell their story, then once again become completely inactive.

A group of children shining torches in a dark museum

Children in the museum shining their special torches (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The trained actors were superb, word perfect and gloriously scary, but the museum staff almost stole the show with their unscripted performances. The cook in the kitchen wielded her meat chopper in such a menacing way that even grown-up visitors jumped!

A costumed cook in a historical kichen

The cook in the kitchen (c) D & D Carrington Photographers

The Results

The night was a tremendous success. The museum really came alive and everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. For the museum, a significant benefit was the new partnership with Rag and Bone Arts Group, who now use the Museum for some of their performances.

We are looking forward to repeating the event in future, with more time for forward planning and extra publicity.

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A woman smilingMelissa Barnett is Curator of Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre, which has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChippenhamMuseum. Melissa gained a degree in Archaeology and has worked as Curator of Welshpool and Banbury Museums, and Museums Officer for South Gloucestershire Council. She has always enjoyed working with community groups, and relishes her role in Chippenham where the museum is a thriving and popular hub for the town.

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Thanks, Melissa!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Guest Post: Pat Brandwood explains how the Robert Owen Museum reopened during Museums at Night

Our latest guest post comes from Pat Brandwood, Curator of the recently reopened Robert Owen Museum in Newtown.

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Robert Owen was a social visionary and founder of the international co-operative movement, a pioneer of “early learning” and free universal education; and a founding father of socialism – a man who wanted to make the world a better place. At the Robert Owen Museum we are all unpaid volunteers, and have tried hard to restore key items of the Collection, improve the displays and make the museum more welcoming.

Museums at Night came at an opportune time for us in 2 ways:  17 May is Owen’s birthday, and the Museum had been closed for building and safety improvements and was scheduled to re-open in mid-May.

So when Culture24 contacted us about Museums at Night 2014, the first thing I did was contact our friends at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum (who had a successful event in 2013) and steal a few ideas.

A man face to face with a bust

A proud moment from the museum’s history: Tony Benn encountering his hero, Robert Owen (c) Gemma Bowker

Preparations began in March, and we used our AGM to allocate responsibilities and form a small team:

  • Our Publicity Officer was responsible for a series of articles leading up to the event, on local radio and in the local press, as well as the Co-op News.
  • Our Education Officer produced a flyer and a poster which she circulated and called “Night at the Museum”.
  • Invitations were circulated by email and post to friends, schools and businesses.
  • I visited local co-operatives, large and small to invite them and ask for help.  These groups provided us with fantastic food and wine, as well as flowers for a birthday presentation at Owen’s Statue.
  • The Town Council, our partners in the building, were involved at every stage and made sure the building was pristine and ready on the day and issued their own invitations.

We opened on Friday, our first day after a six month closure, to a variety of visitors. These included people who were passing on the way to our local restaurants and pubs, a welcome extension to our usual clientele!

A group of people by a statue with flowers at its feet

The Museum team place flowers around the statue of Robert Owen (c) David Pugh

Saturday was more of a worry because the logistics were more complex, involving everything for the reception arriving for the times advertised on the flyer and a tense moment when the florist was held up by an evening wedding.  But everything went like clockwork, with the exception of the Curator doing a guided tour at 7:30pm – in fact, we had to run guided tours for 4 hours! The publicity had worked, and we had photographers and even our M.P. among our many visitors, young and old.

A mayoress wearing a gold chain

The Mayor visiting Robert Owen Museum (c) David Pugh

We’re a voluntary and independent museum and depend on the goodwill and support of our partners. So it was good to see that the late opening contributed to a relaxing atmosphere, with visitors and helpers enjoying a unique evening activity.

We have received a real boost in our number of volunteers and enthusiasts, with more locals feeling a real sense of ownership in their Museum.  It was a celebration of Newtown as well as Robert Owen, and the building has been renamed The Robert Owen Centre Newtown to reflect this partnership.

Museums at Night was exhausting for us, but also fun.  Next year we are planning a special event with local schools, artists and a small exhibition to reflect Owen’s place in the establishment of free, universal education.  We’ll start planning when the schools return in September!

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A woman in a red cardigan shaking hands with a cardboard Robert OwenI spent my career teaching social and economic history, and moved to Newtown in Powys 8 years ago. I joined the Robert Owen Museum as Education Officer then became Curator in 2009. In November 2013 I received an award from the Co-op Cymru and the Bevan Foundation: in recognition of our work at the Museum I was made Co-operator of the Year.

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Thanks, Pat!

If you’d like to write a guest post or share a case study about any aspect of audience development, event planning or marketing in the arts and heritage sector, please email rosie@culture24.org.uk.

A group poem from author Guy Bass’s event at Trencherfield Mill

Trencherfield Mill in Wigan took advantage of Museums at Night’s partnership with the Reading Agency, and welcomed children’s author Guy Bass to lead a creative writing workshop about monsters for their family audience.

A man with brown hair smiling

Guy Bass (c) Curtis Brown

Carole Ogden from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has shared the brilliantly atmospheric poem she compiled from the group’s suggestions:

“While the children were decorating the monster, I asked them for words or phrases to describe the monster or what they were doing. While they were being entertained by Guy Bass I then used all those words to make a poem about constructing our monster and then read it to them before they went home, and they spotted their contributions to it.”

A large cardboard monster made by children

Stinky Phil, the Trencherfield Mill Monster. Image courtesy Carole Ogden

With no further ado, please read on – and tremble at the monstrous ode the children devised!

Stinky Phil – The Trencherfield Mill Monster

Tonight we made a monster,
for Museums at Night,
he is quite wide and hairy
and gave us all a fright!

He’s a multi-coloured mutant
who we call ‘Stinky Phil’;
one leg’s orange, one is brown
and his home is in the Mill.

He’s rather monolithic,
doesn’t say a lot,
but when he speaks, he breathes out
streams of gloopy snot! (Yuk!!)

We thought he’d be gregarious,
make some monster mates,
but he’s too shy and slimy
to ever get a date.

His fangs are long and pointy,
he has a spotty chest
and sports a dazzling monobrow
‘neath hair like a chicken’s nest!

Because he only has one eye
and a patch across his nose
he can’t see how ferocious
he looks, dressed in those clothes.

I know his legs are drippy
and rather speckled too
but he does look patriotic
with his fur red, white and blue.

We think our monster’s brilliant –
imagine him outside:
big as a giant, hairy feet,
two-pencils-and-two-spots wide!

So Stinky Phil is ready,
what will he do now?
We’ll have to keep him at the Mill
So visitors say “Wow!!”

So there are really monsters,
scary from toe to head.
I think, when I get home tonight,
I’ll check beneath my bed…

Work with an artist on a Museums at Nightclub!

It’s been a busy summer of evaluation, looking in detail at responses to the Museums at Night festival from participating venues and the public.

We have consistently received feedback from venues that have taken part in the Connect10 competition (and those that haven’t) that they would value more opportunities to work with artists, and to connect with new audiences through artist-led events.

And we’ve found an interesting way to offer just that opportunity…

Culture24 is seeking expressions of interest from all types of arts and heritage venues in a new project called Museums at Nightclub. Based on the successful festival template of after-hours events with an audience development objective, this new initiative springs from our evaluation of the Connect10 project.

A silent disco dancefloor

Young people flock to the dancefloor at MOSI (c) Chris Foster

The Museums at Nightclub will be an artist-led, touring event series produced by a consortium of venues in conjunction with Culture24, taking place in areas with low engagement in the arts. It will feature artists who specialise in participatory arts events, and who have worked on the Connect10 project in previous years.

We are developing a proposal to submit to Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme involving a partnership with the participating venues.

Venues from anywhere in England may express an interest but preference will be given to those identified by the Taking Part Survey (2008 – 2010) as being in the 118 local authority areas in the country with the lowest level of engagement in the arts.

Would this work for your organisation? Find out more: take a look at the Taking Part Survey list to check your local authority’s status and download our 3 page information pack about the Museums at Nightclub project, schedules and finance.

We want this stage of the project to be developed in partnership with the participating venues, so please do come to us with your ideas and suggestions!

If you have any questions or just want to talk through some ideas, please contact: Nick Stockman (01273 623279, nick@culture24.org.uk) or Rosie Clarke (01273 623336, rosie@culture24.org.uk).

Freelance project administrator job: help deliver Museums at Night in North Norfolk

Project Administrator freelance role for North Norfolk Stories

Museums Norfolk, the membership organisation that supports museums and heritage sites across the county, is seeking a freelance Project Manager to deliver North Norfolk Stories, a two-year project funded by a £75,800 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

North Norfolk Stories will establish an annual, large-scale and free Museums at Night event in North Norfolk that will be self-sustaining when the project is completed.

A sunset scene of boats pulled up in a village

Fishing heritage in Sheringham, North Norfolk (c) David Kirkham, Fisheye images

Twenty-one partner organisations, including museums, libraries and heritage sites are involved. Key to the project is that it aims to engage more people with heritage, as both participants and visitors, and will provide training for young people in valuable employment skills. It also includes an education programme for schools, reading groups in libraries, opportunities for volunteering, and mentoring and skill sharing between partners.

The post holder’s role is to support the freelance Project Manager to develop and deliver this project during 2014-16. They will also work closely with the Museums Norfolk Development Manager and Museums Norfolk Committee.

This is freelance job so the post holder will mainly work from home. They can therefore be based outside Norfolk as long as they’re able to travel to Norwich and North Norfolk for meetings.

If you’re interested in the role and would like the full job description and person specification, please contact Laura Crossley at northnorfolkstories@gmail.com.