Museums and galleries across England are actively being encouraged to adopt a more business-like approach and think commercially through a new retail training programme which launches next month.
The Association for Culture Enterprises (ACE) Retail Resilience Programme is an integrated commercial development programme and peer-to-peer support network. It is designed to encourage best practice in income generation by equipping museums with expert retail skills and knowledge.
The programme, which has just been awarded £359,985 of funding from the Arts Council’s latest round of grants from its Museum Resilience Fund, will be rolled out to all English regions over the next three years. It follows a successful pilot programme with members of SHARE Museums East, which is now in its second year.
John Stachiewicz, ACE chair, said: “We are delighted to be rolling out the ACE Retail Resilience Programme across England. At a time when our cultural institutions are under increasing threat from funding cuts and closure, it is crucial that economically-viable systems are put in place to secure the longevity of England’s valuable cultural economy. This programme will enable more museums and galleries to independently generate sustainable income through retail.”
The programme will begin with the recruitment of staff and research into the select venues that would most benefit from it. Training sessions will be given by expert practitioners, and will cover effective buying, financial management, visual merchandising and shop staff skills.
Members of the programme will also be part of a commercial forum, enabling them to share their experience with other museums via training events, study days and professional resources for tracking and using retail data. The programme also offers select museums free membership to ACE for a year, as well as free attendance to its annual convention.
John Orna-Ornstein, director of museums, Arts Council England, said: “Cultural heritage trading plays an important role in engaging with our audiences and in generating income, and this injection of funding from the Arts Council will help regional museums and galleries to become really strong practitioners in this sector. I have been incredibly impressed with the passion, energy and pride that I have seen coming from the ACE community.”