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Museums Northumberland

Archived: Consultancy Opportunity

Timescale: July 2021 – November 2021

Fee: There is a budget of c£12.5K inclusive of expenses

Purpose: As a community-centered organisation, we are seeking consultants to help us better understand the communities we serve, and the people our work is yet to reach. Through this work we want to develop an evaluation framework that informs strategy and helps to increase out impact. We want to ensure that our data is working for us: to inform decision making, shape planning and measure success. As an outcome, we hope to improve our approach and support wider, more diverse participation.

About Us:

Many of us have a favourite museum, but Museums Northumberland is special because it champions the heritage of the whole of this ancient and beautiful county. Our mission of ‘Sharing Northumberland’s stories’ sums us up well.  We are all about people and places, with the history and culture of our region coming to life through our range of museums and collections.

If you have connections with the North East you are probably familiar with Ashington, which was once the largest pit village in the world and is now home to our showcase colliery museum – Woodhorn – a scheduled ancient monument.  You might have visited Berwick -upon-Tweed and seen our Art Gallery and Museum there, or perhaps visited England’s oldest gaol in Hexham. And who cannot feel nostalgic for the Northumbrian pipes (brought alive at the Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum).

We are proud to house the Pitman Painters Collection (officially known as the Ashington Group Collection of artworks) at Woodhorn Museum – made famous by the Lee Hall play which, following sell out performances in Newcastle, opened to critical acclaim in London and New York.

Following our establishment as an independent museum charity in 2009, as a first-generation Creative People and Places host, and as an Arts Council England Museums NPO in 2018, we have been working at the heart of our communities to provide opportunities for co-delivery, partnership and collaboration.

As with most seasonal cultural organisations, we have been challenged by Covid-19. With the support of our funders, we managed to open Woodhorn Museum briefly (Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum; Berwick Museum & Art Gallery and Hexham Old Gaol are now scheduled to open in May 2021) and raised c.£824k in capital and emergency funding through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Art Fund. We’ve also increased our digital reach during lockdown, introduced a new project website for the Union Chain Bridge Project and achieved significant coverage through print and media. For more information about the charity, do have a look at our website: www.museumsnorthumberland.org.uk

We know that the pandemic will have changed people’s expectations, tastes and outlook, but we are keen nonetheless to ensure we remain a valued asset in the eyes of our local communities. It will come as no surprise that we are now looking at how we can take our audience development planning to the next level. We are seeking a consultant/consultancy firm to undertake public attitudinal research on our behalf to help us to better understand our current and potential reach, and to embed new methodologies to monitor our progress. Guided by our Inclusivity and Relevance Panel (a committee of Trustees, Executive and, soon, our communities), we have identified key dates for engagement and dialogue with both the Panel and the wider staff body. We want to fully understand our potential users’ appetites and expectations, and to be able to compare that with our existing reach and offer, in order to widen our impact. We exist solely for the benefit of our communities and we passionately believe in our strategic aim to ‘Put People First.’ We want to be challenged and work collaboratively and expect the consultant(s) to find creative and tailored methodologies to truly engage with our communities and accurately represent their diverse perspectives.

We hope you will help us to explore:

  • Our existing audience’s needs and expectations
  • The Northumbrian communities we don’t reach and why
  • Our audience measuring, evaluating & reporting

We want to achieve this through

  • Creative, fun and bespoke consultation opportunities for the people of Northumberland
  • Sensitive enquiry that honours our charitable status
  • Honest and open collaboration
  • Blended delivery, in person and online (in line with Covid-19 restrictions)
  • Consultants will also be expected to facilitate a minimum of one I&R Panel meeting, one SMT meeting and two all staff meetings.

Key Outputs:

  • Detailed review of existing visitor data and data collection methods to form a baseline of information about our audiences.
  • Detailed review of regional demographic data and audience segmentation for the communities we serve.
  • Extensive consultation with non-users to better understand the barriers to engaging with Museums Northumberland and our offer.
  • Development of a bespoke evaluation framework that provides a methodology for measuring, evaluating, reporting and responding to our audience data (in line with internal and external reporting requirements eg. ACE Inclusivity & Relevance and Annual Survey reporting).

Skills & Experience Required

We expect that the successful submission will be able to evidence substantial experience of the following:

  • A solid understanding of audience development methodologies
  • An enthusiasm for diversifying audiences through creative means
  • A nuanced understanding of the North East context
  • A strong understanding of ACE NPO reporting requirements
  • Sound research and analytical skills in order to draw meaningful conclusions and reports
  • Strong report writing, presentation writing and presentation delivery skills
  • Ability to self-manage and work as a part of a team, liaising with the client, other appointed consultants and stakeholders
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Excellent facilitation skills, including virtual facilitation
  • Ability to drive a project forwards within tightly defined timescales
  • Compliance with the UK Code of Practice for Statistics, the Museums Association Code of Ethics 2015 and membership of relevant professional body

For more information and to apply, visit museumsnorthumberland.org.uk/about-us/jobs-opportunities/

Applications must be received by 12 noon FRIDAY 9 JULY 2021

Virtual Interviews shall take place during the w/c 19 JULY 2021

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