Sustainability Case Study: Museum of East Anglian Life

The Museum of East Anglian Life has established Abbot's Hall Enterprises to produce plants, flowers and vegetables to sell in the farm shop on the premises as a social enterprise. It provides skills development and training to people including prisoners on probation and people with learning difficulties. The skills training has, on occasion, led to employment.

It helps people with special needs and brings in some money. Abbot's Hall hopes to break even within three years. Museum director Tony Butler says, "We are dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of society, and I think it is reasonable to expect that this work requires some form of public subsidy."

Social enterprises are businesses with a social purpose. Putting something into the community and making a difference to the environment features as strongly as profits, which are ploughed back into the business. Importantly, social enterprises can engage and empower a local community. Among the most well-known ones are Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurants, the Eden Project and the Big Issue.

This is an extract from a Museums Journal article by Felicity Heywood on museums and social enterprise.
For the full text of this article please click here