2023 conference programme

Further details and speaker names to be confirmed.

Thursday 15 June

Arrival and registration from 10am, tea and coffee available with a separate introduction for those attending AIM Conference for the first time.

11amWelcome to AIM Conference

Andrew Lovett OBE, AIM Chair

11.10amWelcome to Surgeon’s Quarter

Thomas Elliot, Deputy Director, Surgeons Hall Museums

11.30amPanel discussion

Being an independent museum in 2023: Community, Creativity and Control

Join members of the AIM Board to hear their reflections on what it means to be independent in today’s museum sector. How can we better engage our communities, strengthen our commercial focus, compete for attention and ensure good governance in challenging times?

12.30pm – 1.30pmLUNCH and EXPO

Strategic updates and a discussion about the role of public funding for independent museums

Liz Johnson from Arts Council England, Victoria Rogers from Welsh Government Culture Division, Lucy Casot from Museums Galleries Scotland, Alistair Brown from National Lottery Heritage Fund and a representative from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


2.30pmBreakouts – Community

  1. Communities re-interpreting objects – introducing you to the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre’s student re-interpretation project where small interpretive interventions strengthened established museum narratives, recovered lost voices, and brought fresh perspectives. Taking the principles from project, you will be invited to re-interpret a selection of objects through a variety of mediums. Caroline Hamson, Anaesthesia Heritage Centre.
  2. Creating a volunteer philosophy – HMS Unicorn, Scotland’s oldest ship, was a finalist at 2022’s Museums Change Lives awards for its “WaveMakers” volunteering programme. By instituting a new volunteering philosophy that leant into their strengths, the team created a programme on an limited budget that makes a real life-changing difference to local residents. Matthew Moran and Caroline Taylor, HMS Unicorn.
  3. Out of the Box: rural museums and creative community engagement – Explore ‘Out of the Box’, a partnership project designed to address the challenge of rural access to heritage through innovative digital content. Delegates will be invited to participate in activity which will showcase the specific methods used to increase engagement with heritage objects by schools, community groups and care homes. Rosie Barrett, Make More Arts and Ryedale Folk Museum and Esther Graham, Ryedale District Council.
3.15pm – 3.45pmTEA BREAK and EXPO
3.45pmPanel discussion

New Stories New Audiences – AIM New Stories New Audiences evaluators, Stephen Connolly from DC Research and Jonathan Durnin, host a discussion between Christine Pont and Saskia McCracken from Round 1 project Provan Hall and NSNA mentor Lasana Shabazz. The panel will discuss the themes arising from this grant scheme and what is emerging as wider lessons for the sector.


  1. Future proofing your museum board – trustee succession planning – An interactive session to refresh your thinking on board succession planning. We will discuss current succession planning issues, the skills, experiences and characteristics of boards, the importance of diversity and developing an inclusive board, implementing a successful succession planning process. Heather will share top tips on best practice for trustee recruitment and retention. Heather Lomas, Consultant.
  2. Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief update and VAT tips – Conference sponsors Azets will provide a brief overview of Museum and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief, the recent changes to the rates and how to maximise the claim. They will also highlight how changes in the sector have affected the recovery of VAT and how irrecoverable VAT can be minimised. Kirsty Murray and Scott Craig, Azets.
4.45pmAIM AGM

The AIM AGM will include an announcement on the dates and location for AIM Conference 2024. Find all the papers for the AGM here>>


Friday 16 June 

Arrival from 8.30am, tea and coffee available.

9amWelcome to day two

Lisa Ollerhead, AIM Director

9.15amA word from our sponsor


Azets has over 25 years’ experience providing high quality compliance, governance, taxation and advisory services to a wide range of charities and NFPs. Find them on their stand in Reception to find out how their specialist charities team can help you.


Acting for the futureOver the past two decades, the word wellbeing has been used with increasing frequency within public policy. Seeing wellbeing as the goal of society leans on thousands of years of philosophy. But what does it mean to work towards a wellbeing-focused society where everyone can live well together now and in the future? What is the role of heritage organisations in supporting this? 

Dr Jenny Peachey, Senior Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK

10.15am – 10.45amTEA BREAK and EXPO
10.45amBreakouts – Competition

  1. Pleasure, Connection, Purpose: How museums can leverage emotions to build greater public support  – presentation of AIM and Art Fund research findings as well as practical guidance on how to leverage this thinking for short term campaigns, e.g. fundraising, as well as how to leverage the principles for longer term engagement. Elliot Simmonds, MEL Research and Meriel Royal, Culture Bulb, Claire McDade and Jade West, Skylark.
  2. Delivering a destination on the doorstepHaving won ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’ for their loving local approach at the Museums and Heritage Awards, Kiplin will share their methods to reach and retain local audiences. Hear how they embed audience development into the organisation. Take away specific formulas and templates to make your mark locally. James Etherington, Director, and Samantha Jennings, Marketing Officer, Kiplin Hall.
  3. The price is right? – Earlier this year AIM commissioned DC Research Ltd and Durnin Research Ltd to deliver ‘Research into admissions pricing policy in museums and its impact’. This session will share the findings of admissions policies and pricing strategies in the UK museums sector and introduce the guidance that you can use to help decide on ticketing policies in the current challenging environment. Stephen Connolly, DC Research and Jonathan Durnin, Durnin Research

Introducing a new AIM Hallmark

The AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums offer a framework to help museums and heritage organisations throughout the UK. The Hallmarks identify what it is about how successful heritage organisations work that enables them to prosper and thrive. We’re pleased to introduce the latest AIM Hallmark on environmental sustainability, supported by sector leaders.

Lisa Ollerhead, Director, AIM and Daniel Miles, Research Infrastructure Advisor, Historic England.


  1. The laws of attraction: practical ideas for recruiting new and diverse volunteers to your organisation – This practical, interactive workshop will help you attract new and diverse volunteers to your organisation.  We’ll explore how you can create volunteer opportunities to appeal to a wide range of people; overcome barriers to volunteering, and develop an inclusive approach to recruitment that helps you reach new audiences. Alex Lindley, Alchemy Consulting.
  2. Community – Community engagement only works when the whole diverse community is engaged. Take a deep dive into intersectional communities, their needs and how to engage them. Lasana Shabazz, mentor to New Stories New Audiences projects.
12.30pm – 1.30pmLUNCH and EXPO
1.30pmBreakouts – Control

  1. Creating a whole new Board – Beamish has been on a governance journey since coming out of local authority control. Following benchmarking and expert legal advice, it was clear that the museum needed to modernise its governance structure, moving to a skills and expertise-based board. This session will share learning from developing a brand new board. Sally Dixon and Chris Loughran, Beamish.
  2. Rooted in the community: Getting into the museums business – Groundwork took on responsibility for Jarrow Hall in October 2016 after the former operators went into administration. They specialise in community empowerment and environmental activity, bringing strengths in accessible audience engagement with local communities. During this session they will share details of their journey from closure to master planning, museum accreditation, gaining NPO status, driving audience development and the unique strengths that made this possible. Rebecca Maw, Head of Communities and Culture, Jarrow Hall operated by Groundwork.
  3. From meaning well to working well – the journey to find the right board – As The Judge’s Lodging lost local authority support, it became obvious that new ways of working were needed to create a sustainable future. This is its journey – sometimes frustrating, sometimes humorous – from looking at its board of well-meaning but un-engaged trustees, to creating a purpose-drive, forward-looking organisation. Gaby Rivers, Museum Development Manager, The Judge’s Lodging.

Coming back from the brink – In the summer of 2022 Royal Cornwall Museum was facing closure. A sudden change in funding when finances were already under pressure, left the museum in a critical position. This is the story of how the community, creative thinking and strong support set the museum on a path to success.

Bryony Robbins and Jonathan Morton, Royal Cornwall Museum

3pm – 3.30pmTEA BREAK and EXPO

Founding independent organisations – Lisa shares her first hand experience as the founder of two independent heritage organisations, the Edinburgh Caribbean Association and Black History Walks Edinburgh, and what it means to audiences and walkers to understand the multiplicity of stories that make up the shared transnational heritage of Edinburgh’s past, present and future.

Lisa Williams, Founder, Edinburgh Caribbean Association and Black History Walks Edinburgh

4.15pmConference close

Andrew Lovett, AIM Chair and Chief Executive Black Country Living Museum


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