In 2019 the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WPPT) secured development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to realise key elements of its masterplan for this magnificent historic house between Rotherham and Barnsley. My role is to evaluate the development phase of the project and develop a framework for measuring future success.
St Andrew's Church, Dalton le Dale
A group of committed parishioners has recently secured a lottery grant to renovate the ancient St Andrew's Church in Dalton le Dale near Seaham in the north east. With the fabric of the building now secure, they are putting in place a lively programme of activity for local people. My role is to help them tell the story of the project in a final report for the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Aberdeen Art Gallery
Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened in November 2019 after a £34.6 million refurbishment. On behalf of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I am providing oversight of the interpretation and activity plan that are part of the opening programme.
Evaluation of ARTIST ROOMS
Anthony D'Offay's gift of 50 'artist rooms' to Tate and National Galleries Scotland in 2008 has introduced modern and contemporary art to new - and especially younger - audiences all over the UK. Sarah Boiling, Felicity Woolf and I have been commissioned to examine the legacy of the current programme and consider how the existing touring model might change as the project enters its next phase.
Artists Access to Art Colleges
Artists Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) places artists and designer-makers in art schools, where they are given the opportunity to carry out research or realise a project using the host institution's facilities. In 2018-19 AA2A commissioned me to examine the value and impact of the scheme within the larger UK visual arts ecology.
Governance support for Sharpe's Pottery Heritage and Arts Trust
Sharpe's Pottery Museum in Swadlincote occupies the site of what was once a leading manufacturer and exporter of sanitary ware. Now a museum and community resource, it has secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to refresh its vision and values, and provide training for trustees. Felicity Woolf, Mike Woodward and I are carrying out this work in 2018-20.
Evaluation for CVAN - EM
Contemporary Visual Arts Network - East Midlands fosters collaboration between artists, curators and academics, with ongoing financial support from Arts Council England. To help its director and steering group think about the future, I collated feedback, data and other evidence relating to CVAN EM's achievements between 2015 and 2018. This culminated in a report which will underpin planning, fundraising and advocacy.
Bletchley Park learning and engagement review
The trustees of Bletchley Park, home of the World War Two codebreakers, wanted to review the site's learning programme after a period of rapid and successful expansion. Our consultancy team (Felicity Woolf, Tom Welch and Becky Palmer) reviewed the current operation and proposed some new directions, including a more embedded digital strategy.
GEM: Business Training Consultancy
The purpose of this project was to help the Group for Education in Museums strengthen its overall business model by aligning its training offer with the needs of the heritage learning workforce. In early 2018 our consultancy team (Felicity Woolf, Mike Woodward and Emma Hutson) examined the wider landscape of CPD provision in heritage education, assessed the potential for an online distance learning offer and made recommendations about GEM's future as a provider of professional development.
Image: Participants in GEM's Effective Engagement course, led by Pete Brown
What Do I Need to Do to Make It OK?
This exhibition featured the work of five artists - Dorothy Caldwell, Saidhbhín Gibson, Celia Pym, Freddie Robins and Karina Thompson - who use stitch and other media to investigate ideas about damage, well-being and repair. Liz Cooper, who curated the show, commissioned me to produce an independent evaluation of the exhibition's UK tour (2015-2017).
Image: First One's the Best (detail), Celia Pym, 2015. Photo by Douglas Atfield.
Museums Association Conference
Museum Development North West invited me to chair a discussion at the 2017 MA Conference in Manchester about Meeting Point, a programme of artists' commissions in northern museums organised by Arts + Heritage. Our session explored the impact of artist David Murphy's sculptural installation Semerwater Spear for the Dales Countryside Museum in Yorkshire.
Compton Verney learning strategy
In 2017 Compton Verney commissioned me to research and write a new learning strategy, alongside a masterplanning exercise for the site as a whole. I reviewed the current learning offer and made recommendations about future priorities, in the light of increasing pressure to generate new income.
GEM: Learning and Sharing Centre
In 2016 the Group for Education in Museums won resilience funding from Arts Council England for an ambitious programme of training events and digital development that will help the organisation adapt its business model. My role was to act as 'critical friend' over the lifetime of the programme (until March 2018), evaluate its impact and help GEM apply the lessons learned to its future operation.
Image: Participant in GEM's Effective Engagement course, led by Pete Brown
Ferens Art Gallery: Lorenzetti public engagement programme
The display of this recently-acquired panel painting by the early 14th century artist Sienese artist Pietro Lorenzetti was a centrepiece of Hull's City of Culture celebrations in 2017. As evaluator of the HLF-funded programme alongside it, I explored how the presence of this picture changed perceptions of the Ferens Art Gallery and its collection.
Heritage MK: second stage strategy
Since 2011 five heritage organisations in Milton Keynes have worked together on an HLF-funded programme of digitisation, volunteer training and exhibitions. In January 2017 the consortium commissioned Felicity Woolf Associates (Felicity Woolf, Phoebe Walker and myself) to develop a five-year strategic framework for the next stage of their collaboration, including an outline business plan and job description for the new role of Business Development Manager.
Heritage MK: Bletchley Park Trust, Milton Keynes Museum, City Discovery Centre, Cowper & Newton Museum (pictured) and the Living Archive
Now and the Future: a review of formal learning in museums
This 'state of the nation' survey of how museums are working with schools was commissioned from CapeUK by Arts Council England in 2016. I designed the methodology, led the research team and wrote the final report. Our analysis covered such issues as curriculum change, budgetary pressures, digital technology, new delivery models and the impact of academisation. The report makes nine clear recommendations to guide future investment.
New Expressions: options appraisal and business plan
Over a period of seven years Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery led a commissioning programme that explored how artists and museums can work together to unlock the creative potential of collections. In 2015 I was asked to look at ways of sustaining the initiative's distinctive model of mentoring and knowledge-exchange. The outcome was an options appraisal that considered every aspect of the New Expression's future operation.
Image: Chris Poolman and Elizabeth Rowe, New Expressions commission for Soho House, Birmingham, 2014-15
The New Immortals
“What difference would it make if we never died?” That's the question artist Judith Alder set out to explore when she embarked on the research that culminated in this exhibition at Phoenix in Brighton in 2016. Although my role as mentor to the project was initially funded through a bursary from a-n, Judith and I became good friends in the process and remain in regular contact. I was delighted when Judith invited me to write an essay for the final exhibition.