The Chairman's Blog - September 2019
Hello all and welcome to this month’s blog. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that it is a little late in coming out - this is due to having to juggle the day job with the demands of the Chairman’s role. I hope you’ll feel the wait is worthwhile, as there’s lots to update you on.
As I look around the Museum, I sense a new feeling of vitality and purpose. The reception area has been smartened up, and a completely new area behind reception has been created that will be used as a productive multi-purpose space for a new A/V exhibition, additional gallery space and occasional use as a much-needed meeting room. My sincere thanks go to all those who have helped to construct the new room and driven this forward.
Whist August has been a quiet month for us in terms of events/hires, it has been a very busy month for us in other ways. We have recruited 4 new reception staff - Mathilda Carvalho (Reception/Admin), Iasmin Skalski (Reception), Jane Nelson (Reception/Admin) and Debbie Khan (Reception/Admin) and 2 new tour guides – Adrian Church and Edward Fitzpatrick. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to them all and wish them well in their new roles with the Musical Museum. I look forward to meeting and working with them in the coming weeks and months.
There has also been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes with the installation of new IT and phone systems led by Simon Hill and David Moncur. I know Simon is planning to write something more detailed about the work that has been done, so I will let him tell you what has happened and how it will benefit the Museum.
Rehearsals have now started for the 2019 Christmas Concert Series. As you may know, the theme for this year is “A Neapolitan Christmas” so be prepared for some Puccini amongst other well-known Italian music. There will also be the usual sprinkling of seasonal favourites. This year, we have 12 concerts booked at the time of writing, with (I hope) more to come. The number of seats booked is greater than in any previous year, and we have yet to start selling the public concert! All of this is despite an increasingly difficult and competitive market for coach and tour group operators.
For all of the Museum’s concerts and events, whilst the performers have the limelight, their success is a result of a huge team effort from all parts of the Museum that come together to create a total package that sends a happy audience on their way and encourages them to book again for the following year. Every single staff member and volunteer has a potential role to play in helping these events succeed – and they are absolutely crucial to the financial health and long-term sustainability of the Museum. These concerts are a key area we must build on; so whatever your role – from tour guide, to conservation, reception, and more - please consider how you can best support them for the greater good of the Museum.
In terms of our Recovery Strategy, I have the following progress to report:
· The Administrative Assistant and the Business Development Manager posts have been advertised and the first round of interviews are being held. It’s important that we find high quality candidates who have the skills to meet our requirements, so if necessary, we will re-advertise the roles and keep looking until we find the right people.
· Recruitment of a new long-term chair and additional trustees is underway, and I have seen the first few CVs start to arrive. Finding people who are prepared to undertake the responsibilities of being a Trustee is not easy, and the search continues, but we have identified one strong candidate so far.
· Work also continues on the development of a new operating model for the Museum. What become very clear from the work we have done is that at the heart of what we do is the collection, and sitting around that is a business to generate income which protects and sustains the collection. It is this business that enables us to achieve our charitable aims and objectives, and so it is the main area on which we are focusing our plans for growth.
· We are working on getting a clearer understanding of our true cost base and pricing. When this is achieved, we will then undertake some detailed financial planning to give us a more robust business model.
· The first draft of the Museum’s new Digital strategy has been rolled out to the Board by Simon Hill, and is a significant step forward. My thanks go to Simon for this detailed and comprehensive piece of work; I will leave him to tell you more about it in a future update.
· Mike Wood continues to work on the development of a thorough and coherent approach to inducting, engaging and managing our volunteers at each stage of the volunteer life cycle. Wearing his “Exhibitions and Display” hat, Mike has also been working on a number of projects to improve our presentation, including acquiring some new display cabinets for the galleries – watch this space for further updates.
· The Board is also starting to investigate a refresh of our brand, and I would like to ask for YOUR help with this. As you know, we have displayed the Museum’s Mission statement around the building and on the web. However, we need a strap line to encapsulate that mission – our equivalent of “Beans Means Heinz.” Thinking caps on and ideas to me please by email. Thank you.
As always, my sincere thanks to you all for your continued support and the contribution you make to the success of the Musical Museum. More next month.