Tag Archives: attracting visitors

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.

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.

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).

Final call to get your after-hours events on sale in Boots and WHSmith!

If you took part in Museums at Night, regularly run after-hours events, or are simply interested in generating income for your organisation, this is your last chance to join Culture24’s Activity Superstore partnership promoting cultural gift experiences in museums, galleries and heritage sites.

Four boxes will be sold on the high street from the beginning of September in shops such as Boots and WHSmith.


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The Museum Lates box is dedicated to providing two adults with an enchanting, insightful evening in a museum or gallery. This could be anything from an in-depth tour of an exhibition, a talk or access to a workshop. This is a fantastic way for you to attract new audiences and generate income.

A number of brilliantly diverse venues are already on board, including the Art Fund Museum of the Year, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; and the Museum of Carpet.

These boxes are most commonly brought as Christmas presents, so it is vital for you to get involved as soon as possible.

Act S Lates Box

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Activity Superstore?

Activity Superstore provides a range of gift experiences, sold in attractive gift boxes in high street stores. The boxes contain a booklet and a code that customers can use to book their experience on the Activity Superstore website. Examples of boxes that are already being sold are Traditional Afternoon Tea for Two, Ferrari Driving, Two Night Camping Experience and Vineyard Tour and Tasting for Two.

2014-Salamander Box-ForgottenSkills

What will venues gain from being involved?

It is a fantastic way to attract new audiences and gain revenue from your events. The whole project is also a really exciting way of attracting individuals who might not often chose to visit museums and galleries. With exposure in several high street outlets such as WHSmith and Boots, Activity Superstore is a great opportunity to get your name and your brand out there in front of high street consumers.

What does your venue need to do?

For each box that you choose to be involved in, you need to offer four or more activities between January 2015 and December 2015. You can either offer four or more of the same event, or four or more different events; it is totally up to you.

What about events that are already open to the public?

These are fine. If you are including events that are already planned, you could perhaps include some special element like a cup of tea and cake in your café, a voucher for your gift shop, or a special welcome from a curator or guide.

How do box sales and event bookings work?

Each will be sold in shops: customers will choose one experience from a range of venues throughout the UK.

Each time the box is bought and two adults visit your late event, you will invoice Activity Superstore for a share of the money.

Activity Superstore’s experienced team take care of the bookings, and will make the logistics as hassle-free and profitable for you as they can.

2014-Salamander Box-Inside Art & Design

What other boxes are available?

  • Inside Art and Design – anything art/design related, such as an in-depth curators tour/talk (2 adults).
  • Forgotten Skills and Traditions – anything history-based, for example workshops about traditional crafts or activities (1 adult).
  • Curious & Creative Kids – anything for under-12s e.g. children’s crafts/activities (a family of up to 1 adult and 3 children – doesn’t need to be for this many people so long as we know).

Any other questions?

If you are interested in taking part or have any other questions about the boxes and how it all works, please contact Culture24’s Rina Lakhani on 01273 623357 or email rina@culture24.org.uk

We look forward to working with you and helping you to make money and attract new visitors.

Guest Post: Laura Crossley reviews Jessica Voorsanger at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe

Our latest event review guest post comes from Laura Crossley, a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and friend of Museums at Night who discovered other worlds at 20-21 Visual Arts in Scunthorpe!

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Saturday night TV is rubbish. What, therefore, is one to do to avoid National Lottery In It To Win It and endless repeats of Come Dine With Me? (Yes, being a mere mortal, of course I like Come Dine With Me but, no, I do not feel the need to watch ten episodes a day). On Saturday 17 May, the answer to that question came in the glorious form of 20-21 Visual Art Gallery’s Sci-Fi evening.

It's all gone a bit Bowie! #jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

The event, for which we have to thank the brilliant minds of the 20-21 staff and multimedia artist Jessica Voorsanger, was a frenzied explosion of everyone’s favourite Sci-Fi programmes – Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and more, with a sprinkling of Men in Black, mixed with several hundred rolls of tinfoil and flashing disco lights, all topped off with raucous space-themed karaoke – think Venus, Walking on the Moon, Spaceman, Girl From Mars, Space Oddity; you get the picture.

The silhouette of a figure in a suit standing in a doorway in a cloud of dry ice

Jessica Voorsanger silhouetted at the entrance to 20-21 Visual Arts (c) Know Media

The evening started with a life-affirming Men in Black parade with sharp suits, shades and serious dance moves rocking the streets of Scunthorpe.

@cutlimited and @jvoorsanger with Frank Pug after our Men In Black parade down Scunthorpe High Street this evening. #jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

The party then moved indoors to the kitschly (I’m claiming that as a word) decorated 20-21 Gallery where staff in fabulous space attire led an array of interactive activities.

a boy in front of a tardis with a colourful paper arm

A young visitor stepping out of the Tardis with a new bionic arm

As an avid fan of silliness, my favourite activities were dressing up in a Star Trek costume and being photographed in a neon space landscape, and sitting in a chair whilst lots of small furry balls, made by the local community, cascaded onto me from on high. The latter activity was a homage to much-loved Star Trek episode, The Trouble with Tribbles, in which the Enterprise is overrun by tribbles, purring balls of fluff which multiply at rapid speed.

A girl surrounded by small fluffy objects

A young visitor experiences a Tribble trouble avalanche (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

There was life drawing with Jedi light sabers…

handmade pink light sabers

Light sabers at 20-21 Visual Arts

There was sci-fi karaoke …

Jessica Voorsanger with two sassy space cadets on the cosmic karaoke, at last Saturday's Museums At Night event. #MaN2014 @jvtv2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

Two Doctors. One Karaoke machine. LOTS OF FUN! #MaN2014 #JVTV2021

A photo posted by 20-21 Visual Arts Centre (@2021visualarts) on

Visitors could even stage a Dalek attack!

a small boy menaces his parents with a dalek

Family dalek drama (c) 20-21 Visual Arts

It seems that the answer to Saturday night TV boredom might lie somewhere in a galaxy far, far away…..or more probably at a stupendous gallery in Scunthorpe.

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a woman smilingLaura Crossley is a Heritage and Audience Development Consultant and PhD Researcher. Her website is www.lauracrossley.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @lfcrossley.

 

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Thanks, Laura!

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.

Case study: How Wardown Park Museum attracted over 1000% more visitors than usual

Our latest case study guest post comes from Ellen Waghorn, Event Programmer at Wardown Park Museum in Luton.

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Wardown Park Museum took part in Museums at Night 2014 aiming to engage with new audiences and find new ways to use our spaces. We are a small museum with a collection relating to the history of Luton including Luton’s role in the hat-making industry past and present.

Two men wearing fancy hats and drinking beer in a museum after hours

Visitors show off their hats (c) Wardown Park Museum

We decided to separate our day and night events to focus on family and adult audiences.

‘Mad Hatters and Alice in Wonderland’, our daytime event, created something fun but educational that linked to our collection. We used outside space to increase capacity and had flamingo croquet and a rabbit hole crawl. We provided seating and catering bringing in secondary spend.

Inside the museum we created a trail (also charged), that focused on engaging children with our collections. Additionally, one of our volunteers ran an exhibition that  looked at the origin of tea and the history of plants in Bedfordshire, using our collection of plant specimens.

‘Mad Hatters Late’  consisted of  keeping the museum open until  10pm, and  performances  from local musicians, held in a flexible gallery space. To maximise secondary spend, we acquired a temporary alcohol license, and to tie in with our collections everyone was encouraged to wear hats!

a shot from behind showing the heads of audience members watching a band perform

Museum visitors listening to a band (c) Wardown Park Museum

Success

Attendance of the events exceeded expectations with 1027 people on site for the daytime event and 107 in the evening. 953 people came through the doors to the museum on the day.

Comparing this to a normal Saturday which averages at 80, this was a fantastic 1091.25% increase.

We learnt…

1) …not to be afraid of ‘set dressing’ our museum. Far from taking away from our collections, it enabled  more enjoyment, and made  our audiences  think of us as a fun place to visit. Museums are not dull: they’re a good place to have fun!

2) Advertising was key to this event. We used local radio, flyer and poster distribution as well as social media platforms and our website.

3) Using arts as an activity to entice a new audience works. We have been trialing this through ‘Music in the Museum’, a monthly music concert, and the decision to include story telling and a concert was due to the success of this.

A museum entrance hall with visitors and hats on the floor

A range of hats were available for visitors to wear (c) Wardown Park Museum

In future…

…we plan to have less separation between our day and evening events, although we will continue to target our activities for families during the day and adults in the evening. We will continue to increase the opportunities for secondary spend to support the programme and increase financial viability.

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A photo of a woman smilingEllen Waghorn is the event programmer for the Museum Makers Team at Wardown Park Museum. Her aim is to programme events and activities that actively engage the community and encourages the incorporation of volunteers (Museum Makers) into event running and organisation.

Find her on Twitter as @elwaghorn and on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ellen-waghorn/63/70a/1a4

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Thanks, Ellen!

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.

3 days to go: 9 top event marketing tips

Here are some top tips for all venues trying to promote Museums at Night events: these are all simple mistakes we have seen in the last few days, which you should avoid!

1) Does your own website have a listing for your Museums at Night event?

If any details of your event have changed, have you updated them on your site? It sounds obvious but at the very least you need to list the date, event times and ticket price, along with contact details for potential visitors to make a booking or find out more.

2) Is your Museums at Night event listing registered in Culture24’s database?

Simply use the search widget here to double check that we’ve got your listing: www.museumsatnight.org.uk.

The Museums at Night event search widget

3) Most importantly, if we don’t have your event listing, please register it ASAP, or you’ll miss out on all of our regional marketing; and neither the public nor the media will know that there’s an event taking place in their area. Here’s how to register your Museums at Night event.

4) Is your listing correct?

If details of your event listing have changed, please log in here and update your event record: http://update.culture24.org.uk/dashboard - the changes will be visible the next time we publish the site, which usually happens twice a day.

If your event is fully booked, please update the listing to show this so you don’t have to turn people away on the night.

5) Chase your local media

If you’ve already sent press releases, that’s great – but now’s the time to follow up with a phone call. Your local newspapers and radio stations are looking for content – so could you offer them an interview and photos about the Museums at Night excitement you’re planning?

Will they be sending a reporter or photographer along on the night? Phone them now to find out!

6) Use your social media channels

Reach out to your followers on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Instagram and any other social media channels you use. Share your excitement as you get ready – we’re already seeing some great behind-the-scenes photos and teasers, like this:

Winding house character

However, in your messages, be sure to include a link to your event listing online, or to the site where people can find out more and book tickets. Rather than just broadcasting, if you want your followers to take action, make it easy for them by giving them a link to click rather than forcing them to Google for more details.

Don’t forget, the Twitter hashtag for Museums at Night 2013 is #MatN2014 – if you use it, we’ll retweet you.

7) Send an email about your event

Send a quick newsflash reminder to your mailing list about your Museums at Night event – this is their last chance to book tickets! Bonus points if you have a good image to include.

8) Guerrilla marketing on the night

Hopefully you’ve already distributed posters, flyers and leaflets around your area – if not, there are customisable poster and flyer templates here and printable posters here.

Landscape Text1 500

However, you’ll want to attract new audiences on the night too – but if you don’t have enough staff to stand outside welcoming potential visitors, how can you grab their attention?

Good signage can make a big difference: if your venue’s on a side street that doesn’t get much passing traffic, use pop-up A-frame signs to catch people’s eye.

Don’t have signs? Simply chalk on the pavements! During Museums at Night over the last couple of years, several venues chalked a trail of arrows to direct passers-by to their front doors, and were delighted to report that this drew in curious new visitors.

9) Keep us updated!

If your tickets are selling slowly or quickly, if you may have to cancel or if your event’s now fully booked, please update us! Call 01273 623336, email rosie@culture24.org.uk or tweet@MuseumsAtNight.

And for bonus points:

If you’re not running an event at your venue, you can still support the festival!

a) Why not share a link with your social media followers to a Museums at Night event in your area they night like to go to? The hashtag is #MatN2014.

b) If you’re free during the evening on Thursday 15, Friday 16 or Saturday 17, why not pop along to a Museums at Night event with your friends or family?

c) Tune in to the BBC coverage of Museums at Night – there’s an hour-long show on BBC2 at 7pm on Saturday, and even more coverage online at www.bbc.co.uk/arts.

Best of luck – this will be a fabulous few days!