Money-raising tips for museums

Gareth Harris, 10.10.2014
Advocacy works but events can prove profitable long-term
Sector professionals suggested a number of “ideas for survival” — or constructive ways to make museums more resilient — during the session “Think like an entrepreneur” at the Museums Association conference today.

Nest Thomas, the principal museums and arts officer at Gwynedd Council, described how her museum service coped after half its budget was slashed in 2007. She said that the service has been saved through “advocacy and new partnerships”, citing collaborations with Cymal (Museums Archives and Libraries Wales) and Bangor University.

“What has worked? Advocacy, making a flexible business case and taking advantage of grant opportunities,” said Thomas.

Another panellist, Victoria Rogers, museum manger at Cardiff Story Museum, gave insights into raising revenue through events organisation. 

“You have to have the confidence to be cheeky; it helps if the audience is ready-made, enthusiastic and geeky,” said Rogers, who described recent successful events held at the museum.

These include an event in July focusing on the history of Cardiff City football club, and a Cardiff city “cake-off” due to take place next month, reflecting the current craze for baking.

“Look for partners to reduce [event] costs,” said Rogers. For instance, the Cardiff Story Museum organised an Ivor Novello night last February when it invited students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to volunteer and take part.

“It is very difficult to make money from events. VAT [on ticket costs] is the killer; alcohol is where the money is,” Rogers explained. But minimal income made from events will build up over time, she said. “You have to chip away at your target. Small bits of money all add up.”

Comments

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OJETOLA PHILIP
BUSINESS DEVELOMENT ASSOCIATE, PAISPLUS ASSOCIATES
17.10.2014, 12:40
The future of financing museum is in sustained public-private partnership and community/stakeholders' funding, and less dependence on lifelines from government sources.