Just now I'm working as...
Association of Independent Museums Organisational Change Enabler & Heritage Lottery Fund Resilient Heritage Mentor
As an AIM trained Museums Enabler, and a Heritage Lottery Fund appointed mentor for resilient heritage developments, I help heritage organisations look at their organisation and how to take it forward into a new political, economic and public landscape. This happens by challenging, advising, facilitating and supporting senior leadership and governance groups in thinking differently and improving their vision, structures and approaches to be more ready for a new climate. This might mean for example, reshaping governance structures or procedures; recruiting and managing specialist consultants or other providers; exploring new income generation potential; changing business models; and being up to date with legislative requirements. This builds on previous work as a social impact evaluator, coach, mentor, critical friend, charity trustee, fundraiser, Arts Council Resilient Museum Consultant; as well as 20+ years working in heritage and other sectors using mixed-economy models.
Museum of Science & Industry: Evaluation Consultant
Providing holistic overarching evaluation of the museum's new, first internally curated touring exhibition and the public programme around it. In essence, the museum wants to know how successfully they have communicated a complicated, abstract concept about an invisible subject, creatively, informatively and inspiringly to a range of visitors; and what they need to learn from this experience for future internally curated touring shows. The evaluation explores the processes and outcomes, breadth and depth of experiences from young and older adults, school groups, families, the design, layout and content of the exhibition. It uses arange of qualitative, quantitative and creative techniques. The work also involves co-ordinating with the Science Museum Group's internal research team, and two other external independent research companies carrying out concurrent work elsewhere across the museum to ensure visitors aren't experiencing evaluation fatigue, and that all evaluators can benefit from one another's findings and insight.
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection: Wellbeing & Community Associate
After working with Gawthorpe Textiles Collection for a year as their Action Researcher on the social impact of the organisation, together we're taking this work on a stage as I develop and manage ongoing projects and programmes which get the collection out to its community, as was the intention when it was first gathered together. Wellbeing is one of the key strands and together with high quality textiles practice, underpin all areas of future community engagement work. The first tranche of activity is the evaluation of a closed wellbeing and mindful mending workshop, run by textiles artist Claire Wellesley-Smith, and producing a Textiles & Wellbeing Symposium featuring local, national and international theory, activity and evidence. Swiftly following those will be a series of new projects with Burnley communities, commissioned by the NHS's social prescribing / wellbeing on prescription programme.
Manchester Museums & Galleries Partnership: Islamic Collections Evaluator
Curators from Manchester Museum, The Whitworth Art Gallery, and Manchester Art Gallery are collectively developing their expertise around the Islamic items in their collections. I'll be monitoring their progress as they visit other collections; talk to experts from the UK and beyond; and dig deep into their collections to research more about the links to Islam.
Image: Pillow End, 1700-1800 © Manchester City Galleries
Image: Pillow End, 1700-1800 © Manchester City Galleries
National Heritage Training Group: Skills for the Future Evaluator
The National Heritage Training Group are delivering a Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future programme, training people in traditional building skills which will help preserve the historic buildings and structures of the UK. Some will take part in short courses, while others will take up placements of up to a year and most will complete qualifications throughout their involvement. The evaluation will explore the processes and outcomes of the programme, across the trainees, those taking up placements, the companies who offer and host the placements, a group of mentors guiding the participants through the programme, and the project management team.
Super Slow Way: Critical Friend
Super Slow Way is an ambitious arts programme in Pennine Lancashire. Part of the Creative People & Places initiative, it brings arts and local people together to change the area and the lives of those who live there. The critical friend role is a mix of coach, evaluation consultant, organisational development aid, and provocateur, to support the team in stopping, looking back and ahead with clearer purpose. It's about helping to keep aims, outcomes and possibilities clear, whilst quality assuring the reflective process.
Curious Minds: Museums & Heritage Associate
Offering one to one bespoke support and advice to museum and heritage organisations across the North West, such as The Lancashire Infantry Museum, the Museum of Policing in Cheshire, and Clayton Hall - helping them look at how to engage children and young people to greater effect. My support responds to the individual needs of the organisation, and includes an initial consultation meeting, ongoing remote support, a final evaluation session, and a case study about the work of each organisation I work with. If you're a NW museum / heritage organisation and need some bespoke support in this area, contact Steph at Curious Minds in the first instance.