AIM Higher – strategic governance – Tenbury Wells Museum & History Group

Support from AIM Higher has helped the Board at Tenbury Wells Museum rethink their vision for the future and put in place a strategic plan to meet their goals. We spoke to Tracey Morris to find out more. 

What’s the background to your AIM Higher application i.e., what were the challenges you were facing?

Tenbury Museum has attempted to move premises for many years due to the poor condition of the existing site and its detrimental effect on the museum collection. One empty, listed building in the town’s high street was seen as being suitable and a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) was made in December 2021.

Regrettably the application was refused and in their outcome decision letter NLHF voiced concerns over the capacity of the board and advised of the need to invest in training to support the growth of the museum that would result from any move to new premises. A small grant was gifted to the museum group to engage a Museum Development Consultant, Tonia Collett of Collett Consultancy, to help guide the museum through this process.

As part of her remit the Tonia recommended we make an application to the AIM Higher Governance Support Programme, focusing any sessions on:

  • Strategic planning
  • Managing relationships with key stakeholders
  • Succession planning and trustee recruitment
  • Diversifying board.

Our application was successful and Hilary McGowan was duly contacted to work with us.

How did support from the consultant help?

It was a chance for all the board members to get together and speak openly about their concerns and aspirations for the future of the museum – not always doable in Board meetings where there are many other day-to-day issues to cover. We gained a better understanding of the public’s perception of museums; a better understanding of our stakeholder relationships; it gave us a boost in morale that was much needed and a clearer view of our way forward.

What have the outcomes been?  

  • An action plan for trustee recruitment from a more diverse range of skills/backgrounds
  • An outline succession plan
  • A strategy plan for next 3 years

 What were the advantages of having had this support?

Receiving the advice from a very experienced heritage consultant who noted our commitment and progress but showing alternative approaches to moving forward, making us rethink our vision; gaining an understanding of how to diversify and plan for succession and recruitment; discussions on the potential of partnership projects between other museums and community groups, seen favourably by funders. A really useful process.

What happens next?

The trustee recruitment drive will begin in Summer 2023. We’ll be holding discussions with key stakeholders regarding the feasibility of a newly identified site and making new connections with other local museums and community groups to provide joint outreach activities and to gain support for future funding applications.

Have you got any advice or top tips you’d share with other AIM members?

Use the scheme!  The training is scheduled to what works for you.  You will receive help from a highly experienced consultant and there are quite a few to choose from so give yourself some time to consider who really fits your needs. We found arrangements very easy and straightforward, receiving two days face to face workshops that combined well-paced practical learning with round table discussions. Very worthwhile.

Tracey Morris, Tenbury Wells Museum and History Group

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