The AIM talks at the M+H Show will take place on Thursday and first up will be Visitor Experience: Benchmarking Can Improve Your Bottom Line, with Steve Mills of BDRC who will discuss how, in this ever more challenging environment, the pressure on organisations to generate income to support their wider objectives has become increasingly acute. With examples from AIM’s Visitor Verdict tool, the audience will hear how visitor feedback and benchmarking can help you make better decisions in retailing, catering and membership.  “This is a really good strand of topics for Aim to be involved in because it’s the real nitty gritty of what our members do and what they constantly need to think about, and build their skills in, in order to deliver the fantastic experiences they do for visitors,” said Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director with AIM. “The thing with independent museums is they see the money side of things, it is part of the core and it’s what enables museums to do all the things they want to do. Lots of these activities, fundraising, trading and all those enterprise activities have an integral part of their activity, it’s also forms a core part of the visitors’ experience whether it’s what happens in the café or in retail. So it not only matters because it makes money but because it it’s fundamental to delivering good experiences to visitors and that practical and down to earth approach is typical of how AIM tries generally to support its members.”

The second talk will be the Economics of Touring Exhibitions – Models for Practice with Charlotte Dew, Freelance Curator and Consultant, Touring Exhibition Group. Her tallk will focus on how touring exhibitions can maximise their impact and reach, enabling organisations to work in partnerships to best use financial and intellectual resources. Within a funding environment that demands flexibility and resilience, touring can enable and enhance high quality exhibitions and deliver greater access to collections. By sharing recent case studies this session will introduce different cost share models for producing touring exhibitions and sources of funding.

Following this talk will be The Entrepreneurial Museum or Heritage Organisation with Matthew Tanner MBE, Chairman of AIM, and CEO Brunel’s ss Great Britain. Tanner will explain the various ways in which the AIM can help museum professionals develop their entrepreneurial side. Some of the questions raised in this talk will be: What does taking an entrepreneurial approach mean for a museum or heritage organisation? Does entrepreneurialism only apply to income generation or is it relevant to our whole purpose as heritage organisations? What are the attitudes that we need to cultivate and what are some of the pitfalls? “Matthew will draw on his broad experience in museums and as the CEO of ss Great Britain, as well as his close contact with AIM members,” says Newbery. “He is going to bring out the characteristiscs we need to be entrepreneurial and why we need to have a broad sense of what entrepreneurialism means so we are pushing income generating activities and also embracing change and development and are always striving to be better, sometimes with less resources.”

The fourth session will be Retail and the Rocky Road to Resilience with Mike Walton, Head of Trading, London Transport Museum. Resilience is one of the most important issues facing the Cultural Sector and is one of the key criteria for successful funding applications to organisations like Arts Council England and others across the UK. Michael will consider a variety of ways to help the sector perform commercially to high and sustainable standards, based on the museum’s extremely successful £3m retail and online trading business.

The penultimate talk will be In-house or Out-sourced? What’s the best way to ensure you have a good, profitable café?  Rachel Davies, Deputy Director, Compton Verney and Simon Perkin, Visitor Experience Coordinator, Lakeland Arts Trust will discuss difficult decisions facing museum professionals.  Such as do you run a café yourself or out-source it to a catering specialist? How do the benefits of being able to keep complete control of quality and standards in-house compare with the opportunity to work with catering experts and to be a step removed from the day-to-day challenges of running a café? Perkin, who runs two successful cafés and Davies who has tried both in-house and out-sourced catering, will help the audience weigh up the pros and cons.

To finish the AIM stream Mark Webb, Project Manager at The Heritage Alliance, Alison Nicholson, Digital Communications and Fundraising Officer at the Bowes Museum; Perdita Hunt, Director and Sarah Mitchell, Development Executive of the Watts Gallery Trust take on the subject: Trying New Approaches to Fundraising: Crowdfunding and Mobile Giving.
At the beginning of this session, Webb will discuss the series of high quality bespoke training events in heritage fundraising which are being delivered across the UK by the ‘Giving to Heritage’ programme by The Heritage Alliance  and the Institute of Fundraising. Nicholson will then give an insight into crowdfunding as a new way to fund heritage projects, featuring experiences of two distinct projects and crowdfunding platforms, top tips and ways to build a ‘crowd’ of supporters. Hunt and Mitchell will talk about mobile giving and the Watts Team Triathlon campaign and how working closely with the National Funding Scheme’s DONATE programme, the campaign beat a target amount of £10,000.

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