Tag Archives: advice

Notes to Editors: press release boilerplate text for Museums at Night 2014

I’ve just had an enquiry from a venue sending out press releases to promote their event, who wanted to know whether there was any specific information to include about the Museums at Night festival.

Our standard boilerplate text explains what the Museums at Night festival is, and introduces Culture24 (the non-profit online cultural publisher that coordinates the festival) and Arts Council England, the core funder of the festival.

Here’s the Notes to Editors text: you can also download this as a 1 page Word document.

Notes to Editors:

1. Museums at Night is the annual after-hours festival of arts, culture and heritage when hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events. It takes place over the weekend of Thursday 15 to Saturday 17, 2014. www.museumsatnight.org.uk

2. Culture24 is a non-profit cultural publishing organisation supporting arts and heritage venues to reach audiences across digital platforms. We collect and share cultural data, publish websites, run the national Museums at Night campaign and lead action research projects. www.WeAreCulture24.org.uk

3. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Museums at Night logo

You can also download many variations on this Museums at Night logo - along with poster and flyer templates you can customise to promote your events – over on our Resources for Venues page.

If you have any questions, please call Rosie on 01273 623336 – we’re here to help!

Guest post: Ella Lewis-Collins on a night of drama at the Jerwood Gallery

Our latest guest post comes from Ella Lewis-Collins, and looks at how a change of plans meant the Jerwood Gallery had to rethink their Museums at Night event idea … and what they’ll be offering visitors instead.

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Last year, the Jerwood Gallery won the Chapman Brothers in the Connect10 competition for an event during the Museums at Night festival. Our evening with the Chapmans consisted of a party with a giant game of consequences.

Adults drawing on a large piece of paper on the ground

Jake Chapman leading Exquisite Corpse drawing session at the Jerwood Gallery (c) Pete Jones

Participants made hideous, amusing and often obscene ‘exquisite corpses’ on 6 foot pieces of paper, passing them around to strangers to complete, with Jake Chapman jumping in and helping people add weird and wonderful details to their creations.

A group of people in an art gallery looking at a large drawing

Visitors looking at an Exquisite Corpse artwork with Jake Chapman (c) Pete Jones

This was so much fun that we decided we had to go for another artist in the competition this year. We picked the photographer Spencer Tunick with the hope of bringing him to Hastings for a mass participation nude shoot on Hastings fishing beach.

Our campaign to win Spencer was one that got lots of support – the wonderful people of Hastings and beyond got behind the ‘Vote Jerwood, Vote Hastings’ campaign and we even had a flash mob strip completely naked on Hastings beach to help promote the vote, which made international news!

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Nude flashmob on Hastings Beach, image courtesy Ciaran McCrickard / Connors

Despite almost doubling the number of votes that we got last year, it sadly wasn’t to be and George House Gallery, Folkestone won Spencer. After we found out that we hadn’t won Spencer, we didn’t want the opportunity of doing something for Museums at Night to pass us by. The tricky thing was working out to do instead.

Devising a new event idea

A few members of the team got together and we decided what we wanted was to create a gallery experience which allowed visitors to explore the gallery in a completely new way. We wanted it to have a distinctive evening atmosphere and we wanted people to remember ‘that time we went to the Jerwood Gallery’. Essentially something atmospheric, unique and creative. So then we thought of the Baron…

A man in a hat with his shadow silhouetted

Baron Gilvan (c) Kipperklock Photography

The Baron is a wonderful, slightly dark and magical character who we had the pleasure of working with when we celebrated the gallery’s first birthday in March last year. He transformed the gallery’s studio into ‘The Baron’s Art School’ for the weekend and took families on a magical journey – following the character of ‘Christina the Astonishing’ in a performance workshop incorporating painting, puppetry and animation. The event sold out and was hugely popular with both children and adults.

We approached the Baron’s creator, Chris Gilvan-Carwright, to see if he would like to work for us on a special commission for Museums at Night this year. We met with Chris and Isobel Smith of Grist to the Mill, a puppeteer who often collaborates with the Baron on his performance projects, at the gallery.

Tips on working with performance artists

It’s hugely important when planning these sort of performative events that those who are delivering the performance can get a sense of the space. This is not only for practical reasons but because so often the space and the art on the walls provides new inspiration.

Chris came up with the idea of running a Baron’s Art School in which participants journey into the paintings, transporting the audience into another world. This provides the audience with a completely new way of looking at and experiencing art in the gallery; the activities will also make them active participants rather than passive observers to the works on the walls.

A character with a funnel on his head performing with small objects

The Baron’s Art School (c) Kipperklock Photography

I really believe if you find the right performer, then the best thing to do is trust them with the development of the performance or the event. Whilst practicalities need to be considered by the venue, it’s usually best to allow the artists to work and get their creative juices flowing – the event will be all the better as a result.

Marketing the mysterious 

In terms of marketing the event, I wanted to convey a sense of excitement and anticipation. I did this through providing snippets of enticing information without giving too much away. There’s more excitement if there’s a bit of mystery!

I always try to listen to the words that the artist or performer uses to describe their work in order to help me develop the marketing copy. Sometimes even writing down verbatim (or recording – with their permission) what they say in planning meetings can be incredibly useful, as their passion and enthusiasm for what they do really comes across and helps to enthuse the audience too.

Images are also hugely important. People find it a lot easier to imagine themselves at an event if they have a visual sense of what it will be like. This can be tricky if a similar event hasn’t taken place before, however some sort of image conveying the atmosphere of the event is essential. Fortunately Chris had a number of great shots from previous events with the Baron, which we were able to use.

I think this year’s Museums at Night with the Baron will be a magical one. Our event – The Baron’s Art School presents Bringing Painting to Life – will take place on Friday 16 May. Tickets cost £15, and you can find out more about the event here: http://www.jerwoodgallery.org/whatson/events/79/the-barons-art-school

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A girl wearing a hatElla Lewis-Collins is the Communications and Marketing Manager at Jerwood Gallery. She joined the gallery in January 2012, prior to the gallery opening in March 2012. Before this Ella worked at FEI, an arts consultancy company. She has an MA in the Reception of the Classical World from UCL. You can follow Ella on Twitter @ellalc, and the Jerwood Gallery @jerwoodgallery.

 

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Thanks, Ella!

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.

Do something different screencast: event marketing on a shoestring

I recorded this screencast for the Arts Marketing Association’s Culturehive website, which aims to collate and share best practice in cultural marketing.

The 40 minute video shares some of my top tips for planning and marketing events, and includes examples from lots of Museums at Night events.

It covers idea generation; ways of involving staff and volunteers; how to add value while keeping costs low; pricing; hyper-local marketing on a shoestring; working in partnership; what makes a successful event; and how to convert visitors into fans.

Thanks to the lovely team at the AMA, I’m able to share it with you all – but only until Museums at Night! Take a look now, as the videos will disappear at the end of May!

Call for Museums at Night images

Thanks to everyone who’s registered Museums at Night events: we have almost 300 in the database already!

Our latest publicity opportunity is a great one if you have high res photos showing people exploring your venue and collections. This opportunity is open to any organisation taking part in the Museums at Night festival, large or small.

a night time photo of an impressive historic building with blurred car lights zooming past

Outdoor photo of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, who are running twilight tours for Museums at Night

Our festival PR agency, Bullet PR, are putting a call out for images to represent the Museums at Night festival 2014.

If you have a great image to accompany your Museums at Night event, please forward a high res version (1.5 mg or more) either by email or dropbox link to pandora@bulletpr.co.uk.

If you’re setting up a photo opportunity and want to take pictures of children, you must get their parents’ permission.

When you’re sending images through to us, don’t forget to tell us what the image shows (e.g. any specific collection objects or buildings), the photographer’s credit and any copyright information.

costumed fire jugglers in a historic street

Fire jugglers welcome visitors to the Black Country Living Museum after hours (c) BCLM / Patrick Mulvaney

The best images will be selected for the Museums at Night press image library: when media representatives get in touch with specific requests, e.g. asking for landscape or portrait photos of families or costumed characters having a good time at festival events, this is where we direct them.

A woman in period costume lighting a candelabra

Georgian costumed character lighting candles after dark at Fairfax House in York

Your pictures could appear in newspapers, magazines, on websites and across all kinds of social media – so please, do send us your best!

Get into BBC History Magazine’s Guide to Museums at Night: register your event by Friday 7 March

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who got in touch because you were away for half term: we’ve extended the deadline to register your events for our brochure until Friday 7 March.

The latest publicity opportunity: your event will appear in BBC History Magazine’s official printed Guide to Museums at Night if you register it by Friday 7 March.

This brochure is our main piece of printed publicity, and is distributed to all readers of BBC History Magazine, various Tourist Information Centres, all UK museums and galleries participating in the festival, and any other arts and heritage venues who volunteer to help with the distribution.

Take a sneak peek at our beautiful front cover for this year’s brochure, designed by artist Stuart Kolakovic:

A colourful design showing museum objects coming to life around a girl with a torch

Museums at Night 2014 brochure cover design by Stuart Kolakovic

Don’t miss out! If you’re already planning an after-hours event in your arts or heritage venue on Thursday 15, Friday 16, or Saturday 17 May 2014 you can simply register double-brand your event as part of the Museums at Night festival to take advantage of all the associated publicity.

Here’s how to register your Museums at Night 2014 event.

Guest post: Science Communication Officer Nicola Frost on creating an interactive family lecture

Ever considered how your organisation could bring science concepts to life for young audiences? Our latest guest post is a case study about doing exactly that, by Nicola Frost, Science Communication Officer at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health.

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Rudolph the Sneezing Reindeer

Early last year I was chatting to a scientist from our Institute who told me about an idea that had been bouncing around his head for a while, but he’d never yet made happen. The idea was simple; an interactive Christmas lecture aimed at young children to engage them in the science of germs and infectious disease. Over a coffee, we threw around some ideas and a plan was formed!

Children and a person in a reindeer suit playing with playdough

Rudolph helps demonstrate how quickly bacteria can reproduce using play dough. (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

Finding a venue

I decided to approach the Education Officer at the University’s Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M) as a potential venue. We had never worked with the VG&M before, however as a cultural asset of the University, with an established family-friendly public programme, it made perfect sense to see if there was any synergy in what we were both trying to achieve.

Thankfully there was, and the VG&M was happy to provide us with a venue and include us as part of their festive programme.

Children gathered around tables doing craft activities

Science craft session in full swing (c) Nicola Frost / IGH

Building the team

With a venue and date confirmed, I pulled together a team of volunteers from the Institute, including PhD students and researchers interested in developing their public engagement skills, to help Dr Alan Radford turn his idea into reality.

We helped input ideas for the lecture, provided critique, developed a craft session to run before the lecture, and provided people power on the day.

A group of people wearing reindeer antlers around Santa

Team photo (c) Kate Hall / Victoria Gallery & Museum

Stretching the budget

Ensuring that our programme of outreach events is properly funded is an important part of my job, and I work with scientists to help them secure public engagement grants from various societies and organisations. Even so, a small amount of money usually needs go a long way so you need to be a bit creative with your ideas.

In this case we actually managed to borrow a few key items, including a microscope that could be hooked up to a projection screen, and a life-sized anatomical model of a torso!

We had a small budget to cover material costs and marketing. From this we had some design done for promotional materials, including a flyer, poster and webpage.

Reaching our target audience

A key target market for us was primary school pupils, so I worked with the University’s Educational Opportunities Department and MerseySTEM who helped promote the event to local schools. The VG&M also advertised the event as part of their ‘What’s On’ guide which was a huge help.

We also used social media, and the local radio station, which are both really useful (and free!) tools.

A successful event

After a lot of hard work from everyone involved, the event went really well, with highlights including children from the audience unravelling 40 toilet rolls at once to help them visualise the size of viruses (messy but fun!) and appearances from Santa Claus and Rudolph.

A group of children attempting to pull of one of Father Christmas' boots.

Dr Alan Radford and helpers from the audience try to remove Santa’s boots to investigate the bacteria that make smell (c) Tom Solomon / IGH

We had a turn-out of over 75 people for the lecture, which both we and the VG&M were really pleased with. The formal feedback we received has also been really positive and we will use this to evaluate the success of the event and to decide whether we will something similar again next year!

Top tips for public engagement events:

  1. Be clear on your aims and objectives – what exactly to you want to achieve and why? How will you measure whether you’ve been successful?
  2. Know your audience – be clear who you are aiming your event at and ensure the content is targeted appropriately.
  3. Work in partnership – this would have been a lot harder to do without support from the VG&M and others.
  4. Make your budget work as hard as possible for you – try and borrow items that you are unlikely to use again in the future, and shop around for good deals on consumable items!

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A woman in a black t shirt smilingNicola Frost is the science communication and public engagement officer for the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health. She has a degree in biological sciences from the University of Oxford and previously worked for the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester Science Festival.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/IGHLiverpool
Twitter: @IGHLiverpool

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Thanks, Nicola!

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.

First marketing and PR deadline is 31 January

It’s an exciting time here at C24 Towers now that the Connect10 voting period has opened – the amazing outreach that participating venues are doing to reach new audiences is really paying off.

  • In 2012, over 20,000 votes were cast during 3 weeks.
  • In 2013, over 30,000 public votes were cast during 2 weeks.
  • So far this year, over 40,000 public votes have been cast – and the polls have only been open for 10 days!

If you want your voice to be heard in deciding where our ten artists will go to lead Museums at Night events, voting is open here until 5pm on Tuesday 28 January.

A crowd of women gather together

PR makes a massive difference in attracting audiences: a large crowd gathers for a Janette Parris performance (c) Janette Parris

Publicity for your venue

If you’re looking at the publicity and media coverage that the Connect10 venues are receiving, you may be wondering how you can maximise the amount of PR that you’ll get if you run a Museums at Night event.

Our first PR deadline to register your events by is Friday 31 January.

Not sure how to register? Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining how to check whether your venue is listed on Culture24′s database, and how to upload your Museums at Night event listing.

We’re planning our event, but we’re not ready to register final details yet!

Pandora George and the team at Bullet PR are keen to hear from museums and galleries about their plans for Museums at Night 2014. They’re sending out a press release to monthly media in early February, so are very keen to hear what you’re planning – even it it is just an outline – by 31st January for inclusion in the first general release.

Pandora says:

We are particularly interested in events that are quirky, fun and unexpected – the kind of things that don’t normally go on at your venue.

We also compile press releases according to themes, for example –  “the best Museums at Night events for music/garden/art lovers” – so again, if you have any suggestions, let us know.

Finally, are also always looking for really strong press images to accompany your event. The best images will be included in our image library.  Please email any suggestions or images to pandora@bulletpr.co.uk.

We look forward to working with you all and making Museums at Night 2014 the best festival yet!

Guest post: Liha Okunniwa on The Wilson’s outreach to young people

Ever thought about setting up a Young People Group at your museum or gallery to help you diversify your audiences? Today’s guest blog post comes from Liha Okunniwa, who did just that at The Wilson, Cheltenham’s Art Gallery & Museum.  

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Museums often find working with young people challenging and see them as a ‘hard to reach audience.’ The idea of setting up a young persons group is something that is seen by many as a daunting prospect. However, once you take the leap, the benefits in terms of audience development and young people acting as ambassadors are myriad.

Here are three simple tips if your institution is thinking about setting up a Young Persons Group:

1. Realise that you are hard to reach for them and not the other way round. Once you start seeing things from a different perspective you may find that there are things you have missed.

What can you do to make them young people feel more comfortable and reassure them that they are welcome? How can you make them realise they don’t need to know lots about art to enjoy your building?

2. Go where they are: When I was recruiting members for The Wilson Collective, I found events where young people were, and planned tailor-made activities for those events rather than waiting for them to come to me. I designed a “design a deck skate” activity / contest for the local skate park and a sleeve-face activity for a local music festival.

3. Diversify: Think of other events that you could hold in your Museum spaces.

Are there local groups of young people who need to rehearse for drama, music or a play? Do you have a space they could use? If so, somewhere_to from the Arts council is a great initiative. All you have to do is sign up at http://somewhereto.com/ and wait for the enquiries to come in. Once the young people have had fun and discovered your building, get them to sign up!

Two teenagers playing a guitar

Musicians Shaquille Douglas, aka @Alluzeion, and
Shawn Wheatley aka Chiggy, at the Wilson
(c) Simon de Knock

For Museums at Night, our young people’s group the Wilson Collective are planning an open mic evening that will fill a gap in Gloucestershire’s arts provision for young upcoming musicians.

This event will give them a platform and a chance to meet other local musicians to jam with. It will also be recorded and broadcast on YouTube, providing a vital resource for the young musicians to further their careers. The event will be marketed by The Wilson Collective ambassadors, word of mouth and social media.

We’re also part of the Museums at Night Connect10 competition: we’re hoping to win Fred Deakin from Lemon Jelly to bring in a wider audience and kickstart what we hope will be the first of many music events at The Wilson.

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A woman in a denim jacket smilingLiha Okunniwa has been Outreach Officer at The Wilson for four years. She is focusing on Audience Development and programming for The Wilson’s dedicated young person’s space, 51. Follow them on Twitter: @thewilsonchelt

Liha is also Creative Director of Bookish Design, an art publishing business that promotes classic literature.

Guest post: Bill Griffiths on creating Newcastle-Gateshead’s Late Shows

Happy New Year! Our latest guest post comes from Bill Griffiths, Head of Programmes at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and creator of The Late Shows.

5 young people on a night out with glow sticks

A group of after-hours visitors showing off their glowsticks (c) The Late Shows

The Late Shows was developed as Newcastle Gateshead’s response to the Museums at Night festival. In our first year, 2007, we opened on the Saturday night only having begged and bullied 14 venues into taking part. We had 4,500 visits. Last year (2013) we had 60 venues and 33,000 visits.

We restrict participation to venues that are not normally open at night, but now the evening venues want to be part of it as well so we have our own ‘fringe’, The Late Lates, with evening venues staying up past their bedtime too.

The weekend starts with our ‘Friday night warm up’ where we open venues in the Ouseburn quarter of the city, where a number of arts organisations are based – then on Saturday night we open the lot!

We were very fortunate in hitting a distinctive brand and title for it in our first year. It’s designed to appeal to the Arts Council’s ‘Fun Fashion Friends’ audience segment, that is, 16-34 year olds who intend to engage with culture but maybe don’t get around to it.

We have had steady audience growth each year with existing audiences coming back and bringing their friends. It’s fair to say the Late Shows is an eagerly anticipated event in the calendar.

We manage it via a steering group made up of experts from different organisations, and we have a volunteer crew for the event who give out glowsticks and brochures, make visitors feel welcome and signpost them on to other venues.

people in an open top bus

An open-top bus full of cheerful Late Shows visitors travelling to their next venue (c) The Late Shows

Key tips from the Late Shows’ success:

  • Don’t have a theme beyond daytime venues being open at night. This allows the maximum number of venues to take part and showcase their work.
  • Do encourage people to move round. We call the Late Shows experience a ‘cultural tapas’. We put on a free bus to move people around between multiple venues, and encourage venues to put on programming that will keep people for no more than 20 minutes. Many people like to try and see as many different places as possible.
  • Mix it up – some arts, some heritage, some arts in heritage sites. The broad mix of programming will attract a broad audience. Although young people are our core audience we see a lot of families coming in as its something they can do together on a Saturday evening, and we also get a lot of older people who say they feel safer being in town during the event.
  • Give all the venues equal billing in the brochure – it creates more of a spirit of being part of a family of venues. Equally, get all venues to market the Late Shows brand in their own promotional material.
  • Have glowsticks! This is more important than you would believe. Firstly it creates a festival atmosphere; secondly it make the event stand out in people’s minds; but thirdly and most importantly, as people are walking about the city they see that other people are on the same night out as them – and as a result feel more secure.
  • Ensure venues provide opportunities for people to participate, not just passively view.
  • Use social media to build your audience.

For more information, come to www.thelateshows.org.uk!

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A man in a jacket wearing a poppyBill Griffiths’ day job is Head of Programmes at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. He started his working life as a field archaeologist before becoming involved with the development of Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum on Hadrian’s Wall. From there he became the Museum Hub Manager for the North East and set up The Late Shows in 2007.

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Thanks, Bill! If you’re reading this and you have an interesting story to tell or case study to share about planning or marketing after-hours events in arts or heritage venues, I’d love to publish your guest posts as well. Please get in touch with rosie@culture24.org.uk.

Children’s authors for your Museums at Night 2014 event

Every year we collaborate with the Reading Agency to connect Museums at Night venues with authors to be part of their festival events, without charging an appearance fee.

This year we have an exciting list of 21 writers whose books are targeted at children and young adults for you to pick from, including How to Train your Dragon author Cressida Cowell and Bartimaeus author and ghost specialist Jonathan Stroud.

How to Train your Dragon

Download the spreadsheet list of children’s authors here – would any of these be appropriate for your venue’s Museums at Night event?

How author events work: case study

Last year, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery brought in author and historian Lucy Moore, who had recently published her biography of famous ballet dancer Nijinsky. This was relevant because the museum holds a world-renowned shoe collection, including the ballet slippers of prima ballerinas Anna Pavlova, Margot Fonteyn and Moira Shearer – which they highlighted in a display.

A male ballet dancer performing

Vaslav Nijinsky in Scheherazade (c. 1912), shared under a Wikimedia Commons licence

In addition to the author talk, which was chaired by the Senior Lecturer in Dance from the University of Northampton, the museum also invited a ballet dancer along to demonstrate some aspects of the dance form and discuss how she worked.

This successful event was specifically targeted at dance students and ballet fans, many of whom had not previously visited the museum but were pleased to have the opportunity to engage with specific objects in the collection. The extra programming inspired by the author created an enjoyable and rewarding evening experience for visitors.

How to promote an author talk

Once we connect your museum, gallery, library or heritage site with a particular author, it will be down to you to liaise directly with the publisher, coordinate and cover the expenses for the author’s travel and accommodation as necessary, take delivery of books for the book sale, and promote the event to your local audiences.

The publishers may have publicity material and images they can share with you to help attract attention, as well as copies of books that can be used as competition prizes – do ask them what they expect and how they may be able to help you!

Don’t forget that you can charge for admission to your Museums at Night events – but as these authors will appeal to families, you may want to widen access to more people by pricing tickets on a cost-recovery basis.

Your next step

Download the spreadsheet of available authors and share the list with your team. Do any of these writers, or the subjects they write about, have a connection with your venue, collections or location?

If you are interested in a particular author, double check their restrictions – some are only able to go to venues within a certain geographical area, most have specified the age groups their books are intended for, and many have set the minimum or maximum number of people they prefer to come and perform for.

In addition, there is extra information about the type of skills and props the authors bring along to their talks, which may be inspiring: for example, Holly Webb‘s events usually involve puzzles and hands-on craft-making activity sessions; Ten Little Pirates author Mike Brownlow would like to hold a piratical party; and Osbert the Avenger author Christopher William Hill brings boxes full of smells which he uses to inspire kids to create their own characters and stories.

Be aware that all events featuring these authors will usually end with a sale of their books, and in many cases a book signing session for visitors – do you have the space and staffing capacity to deliver this successfully?

If you’d like to invite one of these authors to your venue for Museums at Night, please call Nick or Rosie on 01273 623336.