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Chairman's Blog September 2020

Hello and welcome to my Autumn blog.

I hope that as we move through the summer you are well and managing to avoid Covid and the threatened spike in the return of this awful epidemic.

Since I wrote to you all in July, a lot has happened. We have successfully delivered our first ever live streamed event and it was my great pleasure to play for this historic occasion. On the day of the performance we had people tuning in from all parts of the UK, plus America, Australia and even Japan, so we can really say we have reached out to an international audience and the Musical Museum has arrived on the international stage. We followed that up in late August with another streamed concert by the brilliant Richard Hills. Between us, we have had over 3700 views of the concerts. We have also released a video which is something of a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the Wurlitzer and another short about the Steinweg Grotrian piano. We received some lovely comments about the presentation of these events and even the odd one or two about the music! My thanks go to Simon Hill and Steve Barrett-White for their invaluable contribution in making these events possible.

However, the initial success we have achieved needs to be built on with follow-up material in a short time period. The success of streaming is largely about having a constant supply of new material that keeps people returning to our YouTube channel, and (hopefully) turning that into financial support by subscribing via the Patreon platform. We now need to create new videos about other instruments in the collection. The next streamed event will be a concert by Mark Laflin on 27 September at 1500 BST.

I do want to make it clear to everyone that the launch of our YouTube channel and Patreon page and the development of a virtual audience is not a gimmick or a one-off response to Covid; is a step change in the way the Museum will operate going forward, and is integral to both our digital strategy and the Museum’s overall recovery plan. Audience numbers for traditional theatre organ concerts have been steadily declining, and visitor footfall and group hire revenues are unlikely to return to normal for many months ahead. In order to survive, we must embrace technology to help us reach out to a wider, global audience.

This does mean a change in the way we think and operate as an organisation, and we need to deploy additional resources to support the streaming work. At present, it relies on 3 people, 2 of whom have full time jobs. We have no shortage of ideas, but we are critically short of people to actually make it happen! SO I’m looking to our volunteers to step forward and be trained in the use of the technology, and also volunteers to appear in some of our new videos. Please reach out to me by e-mail if you’re interested in helping with this critical new venture.

As part of our preparation for re-opening, we are undertaking a major re-fit to key areas of the ground floor, with the creation of a new gallery space and reception area and the addition of a completely new collection for our guests to see and hear. This will form part of a programme to refresh the image and brand of the Museum. Several of you have already been working exceptionally hard to make this happen, and there will be more news on this exciting project in my next blog.

It is my intention to bring all of our volunteers together as soon as we possibly can so that I can brief you all personally on where we currently stand, and the plan for the future. With the streaming, the proposed face lift, brand refresh and tour development, when we do finally re-open the doors to the public I want the Museum to hit the ground running and with bang to say to the world “we’re back, we’re ready for your custom and we’re better than ever before”.

My best wishes to you all,


Chris Barber

Chairman and Director of Music

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