The Chairman’s Blog - July 2019

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

From Chris Barber, the Musical Museum’s Interim Chairman:

Welcome to the Chairman’s blog. This is the first entry in a series that I will be writing regularly to keep you all up to date with what is happening in the Museum. It has long been a concern of mine that communication between all parts of the Museum is not as good as it could be; this is one step towards improving that situation, with more to come on this subject shortly!

Since I took over as interim chairman on the 1st of June I have spoken to a number of you who have expressed concern over the future of the Museum – and (not surprisingly perhaps) why this change has been necessary. I will not hide the truth from you; the Museum is losing money each month and has done so for many years. Unless this trend is reversed, ultimately the Museum will close. Although we deliver a great experience for our visitors and can be proud of the amazing reviews we get on sites like Google and Trip Advisor, the reality is that museum attendance is less than half of what is needed to make the Museum a sustainable organisation.

We need to dramatically accelerate progress to address this situation, and therefore the Board of Directors have asked me to step in and leverage my professional experience to develop a recovery strategy to turn around the fortunes of the Museum, including the recruitment of a new long-term Chairman to lead the Museum through its next stage of development. Michael Ryder, having previously been Chairman and having stepped “into the breach” to provide continuity (after Owen Cooper retired suddenly due to ill health), remains on the Board as our Financial Director.

The Board has engaged a firm of experienced and cost-effective consultants who have been tasked with finding a new Chairman (and additional trustees) with the required skills, knowledge and personal attributes – particularly in conservation, fundraising and business development. I hope that a new Chair will be in place by the end of the year, though getting the right person is more important than getting someone quickly.

Developing a ”recovery strategy” sounds daunting; and it will mean a lot of work, and a long hard look at what we do, what we deliver and how we deliver it . There will be fundamental changes to the way the Museum operates. Our visitor numbers, while increasing year-on-year, are nowhere near where they need to be to sustain us. The good news is that there are already some very strong, positive attributes to build on. Hall hires are increasing, the number of tour groups visiting the Museum is up, the Contemporary Exhibition in Gallery 3 is nearing completion and the Christmas concerts continue to go from strength to strength and now contribute almost a third of the Museum’s total revenue. You may be interested to know that the 90th birthday concert was attended by 170 people which shows we have the format right for this type of event. These are all areas which are income generating, and on which we need to focus as part of turning around the fortunes of the Museum.

I will be sharing the key elements of the strategy with you in due course, and will also be inviting you to a town hall session where I can share more information in a more palatable and interactive manner than detailed written communication. It is my intention to have regular briefing sessions with staff and volunteers so you are all aware of the progress that is being made, and the implementation of the recovery strategy.

I have set all the directors a task regarding our vision and mission statement. You will notice it is now on the website and will appear on posters around the Museum very soon. Our vision and mission statement encapsulates our charitable purpose and why we exist, and should drive all that we do.  I’d like you to think about that statement and, as you go about your duties in the Museum, ask yourself “What do I do that directly contributes to the Museum achieving its vision and mission?”

Please look out for further communications, updates and details of the briefing session mentioned above. I l appreciate your support, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at that event.

Thank you.

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