Following the success of the pilot the AMA has recently been calling for more museums to take part in a new ten-month intensive programme that will encourage the chosen organisations to be able to change, adapt, influence and remain relevant to an ever-changing external environment. As the Thursday, November 24 deadline for submissions approaches M+H Advisor caught up with Rebecca Moore, AMA’s Programme Producer, to find out more about the pilot and the next stage of the Future Proof Museums programme

Why was Future Proof Museums established and how does this fit in with the AMA’s wider vision?

Future Proof Museums – funded by Arts Council England’s Museums Resilience Fund – fits perfectly with the AMA’s vision to empower those working in the arts, culture and heritage sector to be the best that they can be: to raise more income, and to reach, engage and inspire more people, in deeper ways. Core to the AMA vision is encouraging and sharing learning across the sector and as part of the pilot programme we curated a toolkit Notebook, which is available free on our website. Our aim is to generate a legacy, enabling thousands of museums across England and beyond to explore the process, be inspired by the learning generated by the programme and ultimately become more resilient.

What tangible results did the pilot programme produce?

The pilot programme worked with 20 museums across England and there have been many tangible outcomes. Our independent evaluators, Sam-Culture, have concluded that the pilot generated “substantial changes … transformative … galvanising … changing organisational culture … re-evaluation of the museums role … motivating museums to drive change and equipping them with tools and skills in leadership and business to do so.” Indeed, 85 per cent of participants say Future Proof Museums is helping them to increase organisational performance while others have reported that they now have a more unified board and team who are all clear on their museum’s core purpose. One museum increased visitors by 17 per cent in the immediate quarter following their involvement in the programme. Moreover, 100 per cent of pilot participants found the residential stage of the programme inspiring and stimulating and feel better equipped to lead change in their organisation as a direct result of Future Proof Museums.

What are the aims of the new programme and in what ways do you hope to achieve these?

Future Proof Museums aims to facilitate transformational change and significantly improve the resilience of museums across England. It achieves this ambitious aim by delivering a three-stage programme facilitated by sector experts. The programme begins with a diagnostic stage in-house at the museums led by Andrew McIntyre of Morris Hargreaves McIntyre. During this stage, the museum leader and their team discuss and refine the museum’s cause and manifesto. During the intensive residential second stage, the museum leaders join together as a cohort to gain a suite of new tools, knowledge and insights to help them plan and drive forward change. Our facilitators help them to sketch out their current business model, review its strengths and weaknesses, learn techniques enabling them to innovate and prototype new business models, and help them to analyse their leadership style and organisational culture. Over the following months, a third support stage takes place, tailored to the CEO and museum teams’ needs; this may include facilitation, coaching or mentoring. Trainers and mentors include Julie Aldridge (Consultant), Susan Royce (Change Management consultant), Mark Wright (Learning design consultant), Mel Larsen (Consultant) and Andrew McIntyre (Director, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre).

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What are you looking for in the new applicants and how will you support them if successful?

We’re hoping to find 20 Museum directors/leaders who want to create more resilient organisations. They will already be managing change or looking to increase the resilience of their museum and team. Additionally, we’re also looking for five senior museum professionals or freelancers from a diverse range of backgrounds to take part as Fellows. Ultimately, we’re looking for a diverse group of participants from small, mid or large scale museums, from a broad range of regions in England, and a variety of types of museums – from natural history to art, from science to social history, from local authority to university-run. The AMA team and our carefully selected trainers offer ongoing support throughout the ten-month programme.

How will the programme better equip museum leaders of the future?

The world is constantly changing. We could have given the participants access to consultants to come and tell them what to change to make their organisations more resilient next month, or next year, but they’d then need this again in a short space of time. Instead we focus on sharing a toolkit to enable leaders to adapt how they work, developing a more agile, responsive way of looking at their future business model and plans for the future without losing sight of their vision and cause, and sharing insight on how to lead and enable change throughout the organisation.

Our five Fellows will be senior museum practitioners who we hope will be leaders themselves in the near-future; they will benefit from the same training and support as the current museum leaders, as well as receiving bespoke one-to-one coaching designed to strengthen their leadership skills. Additionally, we will share learning from the programme in the form of videos, conference presentations, and online case studies so that museums across the country – and beyond! –  will benefit from the programme.

What key areas in museum leadership will the programme tackle to encourage a more versatile, resilient and forward-thinking organisations for the future?

At the heart of the Future Proof programme are three key things:

  • WHY the museum is vital: defining purpose or cause – how is the museum relevant to today’s diverse society? What difference does the museum make in an ever-changing world?
  • WHAT direction will drive a successful future: adapting, innovating and transforming to ensure a desirable, feasible and financially viable business model
  • HOW to create the right culture: developing an agile organisational culture and leadership to continue to adapt and influence external change in the future.

These three areas are interdependent and essential for driving a relevant and resilient future.

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