Balancing optimism with realism

AIM survey highlights mixed views of challenges ahead 

AIM undertook a snap survey at the beginning of 2022 to ensure its calls for support and ongoing advocacy work was informed by the latest data, and to gauge the feelings of members emerging from yet another challenging festive season. 

The survey, conducted in January 2022, explored the immediate impact of the Omicron variant and painted a picture of a sector looking ahead to the rest of winter and the rest of the year largely expecting to survive financially, but with significant concerns. 

Those concerns are predominantly focused on challenging visitor figures and related income, not just in the short-term but throughout 2022, and a need for support with core funding, capital (including maintenance) projects, one-off projects, and particularly to support staff resilience and wellbeing. 

Key findings included:  

  • 7% of respondents consider themselves at risk of closure this year. 
  • 15% planning restructures and redundancies. 
  • 70% expecting lower income up to the end of March, with a quarter expecting income to drop by half or more compared to 2021 projections. 
  • A similar proportion are expecting lower income throughout 2022, with 19% expecting income to drop by half or more compared to 2021 projections. 
  • Just over a third need core funding support to the end of the year. 2 in 5 are looking for one-off project funding and capital funding for maintenance needs.  
  • Just under a third identified a need for support with staff resilience, wellbeing and mental health. 
  • The Omicron variant affected around two-thirds of respondents over the Christmas / New Year period, with over half experiencing reduced domestic visitors, reduced entrance income, and volunteer absence. 
  • 38% saw visitor numbers drop by half or more and 29% saw income drop by half or more compared to pre-Omicron projections over Christmas and new year. 
  • Around 70% reported some wellbeing impact on staff and volunteers, with around 40% managing this via informal organisational support. 

AIM Director Lisa Ollerhead; 

“Whilst it is great to see that many members have a sense of optimism that 2022 will be better than 2021, and in turn better than 2020, there were many short- to medium-term challenges highlighted across the survey findings.  

Recovery is on the horizon thanks to the support received to date, but ensuring it continues beyond the short-term will be vital if we are to make a return on that investment. To this end we are already using the findings of the survey in our discussions with sector stakeholders. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part – informing and evidencing those discussions with data like this really is invaluable.” 

Click here to read the full report>>

If you’d like to find out more, Lisa is hosting an online session at 11am on Thursday 17 February to take you though the key findings and what they mean for museums, sector suppliers, funders and support agencies.

Click here to register for the event on Zoom>>