Singing the praises of Scotland’s third-sector champions


Scotland is alive with third-sector support, and while we frequently sing the praises of other organisations that offer support to the museums sector via our blogs, training emails and tweets, how much do you actually know about these various organisations? Here’s a quick look at what you as a museum can get, either free or very cheaply, to support your activity. And where better to start, than at the very beginning, like Julie Andrews once said.


Do… some dough, some lovely dough…

Social Investment Scotland is a charity and social enterprise that provides loans to other charities, social enterprises and community groups across Scotland and the largest provider of loans to the third sector in Scotland. Since 2001 they have invested over £50million in over 210 organisations across Scotland, but don’t be put off by these huge numbers: finance is available for £10,000 upwards. For a good museum example, make sure you read the SIS case study on Almond Valley Heritage Trust’s project.


Re… Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage…

Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage is a three-year programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Catalyst Grants to deliver a capacity-building programme for heritage organisations across Scotland. They offer training sessions on fundraising, as well as support and advice on legacies, membership and friends schemes, building a case for support, how to apply to trusts and foundations, annual giving and crowdfunding. Travel bursaries are available to enable you to attend a training where travel costs would otherwise prevent you from attending. The bursary is open to all volunteers or staff of heritage organisations in Scotland that wish to take part in a Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage event. There are case studies on their website, including this fantastic one about Glasgow Women’s Library’s Friends scheme. The website is full of other free resources that you should take a look at when you have a minute.


Me (well, us)… a name for MGS…

Museums Galleries Scotland is the National Development Body for the museum sector in Scotland and works collaboratively to invest in and develop a sustainable museums and galleries sector for Scotland. We work with a sector of 450+ museums and support them with national schemes like Recognition and Accreditation, as well as strategic investment, advocacy, skills development and public social partnerships. Our next training session covers Board Development, and is a two-day programme supporting senior members of staff with responsibility for reporting to their board and board members to develop an entrepreneurial approach to aid the sustainability and success of their organisation.


Fa… funds to improve how you’re run…

The Heritage Lottery Fund invests money accrued by the National Lottery into heritage. A number of HLF grant programmes are available to organisations who want to develop their skills and capacity in order to become more financially sustainable. Their Resilient Heritage grants of £3,000-£250,000 can help you to strengthen your organisation, and build the capacity of your staff and volunteers to better manage heritage in the long term. Heritage Endowments grants of £250,000, £500,000 or £1million can support your organisation to create or develop an endowment fund that will provide a long-term annual income, supporting cultural organisations to fundraise from private donors, corporate sources, trusts and foundations. A list of Scottish recipients of transitional funding like this can be found here – maybe they can inspire you to apply for your own similar project.


So… a social enterprise…

The Social Enterprise Academy was set up to serve individuals working to make a positive impact in their communities and society. They do this through learning and development support, bringing leaders and social entrepreneurs together to learn with and from each other at training events. Their mission is to support individuals and organisations to enhance their social and environmental impact and build sustainable businesses. They can help you with learning and development opportunities, developing leadership and utilising personal strengths to build sustainable enterprises.


La… some laws to follow so…

That all sounds good, but what is a social enterprise…? Do you count as one? Check out the Voluntary Code of Practice and see if your museum matches the criteria (it probably does!). If this is the case,  Senscot works to underpin the development of a strong and sustainable social enterprise community in Scotland with financial, regulatory and support infrastructure. They aim to link up and support social entrepreneurs in Scotland, supporting cultural and creative Social Enterprise Networks within the museums sector. Senscot Legal is a social enterprise providing affordable legal advice to other social enterprises, charities, community and voluntary organisations, and the wider third sector in Scotland. They provide a free initial consultation, and can help you out with advice on governance and legal structure, company/charity law, employment and contract law, intellectual property, and property/leases. So, most of the things that a lawyer would advise on (bar a few areas), for a fraction of the cost.


Ti… a drink with Just Enterprise…

Just Enterprise is a programme designed to help Social Enterprises achieve their trading ambitions. Supported by the Scottish Government, Just Enterprise is committed to the growth and sustainability of Scotland’s third sector and their services are available to help museums succeed. They offer free one-to-one business support such as start-up advice; income generation strategies; help with costing and pricing; business planning and marketing planning; and help with tenders to help you become investment-ready. To date they have only provided support to a handful of museums and galleries, but many, particularly smaller independent ones, have an eligible legal structure and undertake trading activity, making them the ideal candidates to benefit from Just Enterprise’s support. Disclaimer: they probably won’t provide drinks.


That will bring us back to dough, dough, dough, dough…

Arts & Business Scotland work in partnership with Museums Galleries Scotland to assist the museum sector improve their fundraising skills and to support their boards through training and advice. More generally, they act as a conduit between the cultural and business sectors, helping to nurture the relationships that will enrich creativity and cultural engagement across Scotland. They deliver sponsorship training and support to the arts to help build their capacity to develop relationships with, and bring in funding from, the private sector. Arts & Business Scotland advocate, train and run programmes designed to increase individual giving for the arts and deliver board training and development to arts organisations to build their capacity. MGS sponsors the Enterprising Museum Award at the A&BS Awards, which is open for nominations until Friday 30 September.


We hope you’ve enjoyed our gentle waltz through the world of third-sector support, and that some of these tips will be helpful for your organisation. Don’t forget, we’re here to help, so if you have any questions about any aspect of museum operations; want to make connections elsewhere in the sector; want to train your staff; need help with getting decision makers to understand your public value; or need some cash to help you fund projects; MGS should be your first port of call. No question is too small, so don’t struggle, just get in touch. Make sure you also sign up to our e-bulletin, Connect, and we’ll keep you in the loop with funding and training news from MGS and the wider sector.

GEM Conference 2016: Adapt and Thrive, weathering the impact of change on cultural learning

I was very pleased to attend the Group for Education in Museums (GEM) conference. It took place in the Surgeons’ Hall; a fantastic venue for this super event. I have recently started in my role as Collections and Engagement Manager at MGS. Having come from a curatorial background in the Highlands, this was a brilliant opportunity to spend two days discussing and considering learning in museums and cultural environments.

The title of the conference was Adapt and Thrive: weathering the impact of change on cultural learning, and the mood was one of an openness to new ideas and an awareness of the dangers of inadaptability.

Surgeons' Hall Museums, photo by Neil Turner (

(Photo by Neil Turner)

One of the most clearly apparent benefits of the conference was that there were delegates from all over Scotland, England and Wales. There was room for discussion and comparison; a chance to share ideas with colleagues from a variety of workplaces and backgrounds, and a unique opportunity to explore approaches to ‘weathering the change’ in person with one another.

Day one

The conference organisers had made good use of time using workshops, which allowed each attendee to curate the conference for themselves, and therefore make the most of what was on offer as individuals, or for their organisation.

I was impressed with the Cultural Writers workshop, which was run by the National Literacy Trust. Here we discussed literacy amongst young people, and ways to develop literacy outside of the classroom in a cultural environment. I was pleased with the ‘Picture the Poet’ project, where portraits of poets from the National Portrait Gallery collection form a travelling exhibition. School children respond to them creatively, using the portraits to influence artistic responses in the form of poetry.

Before being involved with museums I spent time writing poems, helping to publish creative writing journals, and organising poetry events, and to me, the two interests have always complimented one another. I was therefore delighted to hear about museum and gallery collections being used to inspire poetry amongst young people; this seems a wonderful and natural idea, one which has been established informally since museums have existed, and one which I think is beneficial to formally recognise and foster in museums and galleries.

After a busy day talking and thinking about different approaches to learning in museums we headed over to the ever-striking National Museum atrium, for a keenly anticipated glass of wine.


National Museum of Scotland, photo by Jacob O’Sullivan

Day two

Ruth Gill from NMS began the day with a fantastic summary of the incredibly ambitious and inspiring NMS transformation, before Piotr Bienkowski delivered a fascinating keynote on the nature of change and why change fails. There is little point in ‘change for change’s sake’. Change is about adaptability, and it is important to welcome and recognise change when adaption makes it inevitable.

At the National Museum we were treated to a lively sample of some of their schools’ programmes. We were shown the brilliantly effective ways that they bring science and history alive to children and young people. The activities were wonderfully resourceful and creative. By using hand windmills, nursery rhymes, teddy bears and building blocks, we were shown how primary age children can engage with the collections in a wonderfully effective way, whilst at the same time putting some of their classroom knowledge into practise. This is an exciting way of teaching children about science, technology, engineering and maths outwith a classroom environment.

With younger children in particular, it can be hard to make collections have relevance. A gallery or collections’ store can be an exciting and unusual place for learning, but it can be difficult to imagine objects being used in real life and the human effect such an object in its natural state might have. By allowing the children to interact and create with objects that relate to and compliment the collections (i.e. windmills when discussing renewable energy, plastic cogs when discussing engineering), they have managed to bring the collections to life. It’s far easier to imagine how an object might work when you’ve worked with a likeness of that object in miniature.

GEM Conference session, photo by Jacob O'Sullivan

GEM Conference session, photo by Jacob O’Sullivan

The conference highlighted a series of innovative approaches of how to adapt and thrive, and the overriding sense was of an enthusiastic, adaptable and creative area of the sector, well placed for weathering any impact of change on cultural learning.

To weather any change, it is important to work together, to create useful and trusting partnerships, and to be open to new ideas, wherever they come from. By adapting cultural learning programmes to be resourceful, creative and collaborative, then museums and cultural institutions can thrive, and be organisations of effective learning in a fun and engaging environment.

Jacob O’Sullivan, Collections and Engagement Manager, Museums Galleries Scotland

Strong Scottish representation at Pakistan’s first major International Heritage & Museums Conference

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In November last year I was asked by Sumbul Khan from the British Council Pakistan, who was over in Edinburgh for our ICH symposium, to consider being a speaker at a conference. From this I found myself funded by the British Council to travel to Lahore to speak at Pakistan’s first major International Heritage and Museums Conference which took place 1-3 September 2016. I was part of a distinguished speaker list, largely from the UK, but also involving colleagues from Pakistan.

We were welcomed on Wednesday 31 August after an early morning arrival and were whisked off to the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) to view the amazing heritage restoration projects they have implemented throughout the city. It was a fantastic opportunity to see their work, but also to gain a little taste of the rich intangible heritage of this wonderful city. We were taken into the city by a posse of brightly coloured TukTuks and then proceeded on foot, and were met with enthusiasm by locals, many stopping to take photos of the delegation.


Our delegation getting into our TukTuks

We were given a tour of the heritage projects including the Wazir Khan Mosque and the beautifully restored 16th Century Shahi Hammam, a city bathhouse now open to the public with spaces available for events. Our welcome dinner was held at the Hamman, complete with great performance from local musicians.

We had packed days on the Thursday and Friday held at the contemporary building of the Alhamra Arts Council, all of which was filmed and reported by Pakistan’s media. In fact, when I switched the television on back at the hotel that evening, there we were, playing back the day’s events! We had a keynote from Duncan Wilson at Historic England relating people and place throughout his work, followed by a great session on Faith and Heritage with our very own NMS speaking about their Young Roots project and inspirational projects in Birmingham and Woking. The afternoon session was enhancing community and public participation with Historic Environment Scotland taking centre stage, but also learning about groundbreaking heritage work in the KPK region, with its very specific challenges of working in a conflict area.

We were supposed to go to a dinner hosted by the Vandals that evening, but the monsoon intervened and after trying to get through for two hours in the buses through the flood we gave up and returned to the hotel.

The Friday morning continued with the same theme of community with the British Museum outlining their community partnerships and the National Army Museum in Chelsea telling us about their WW1 project on the Indian army. Jasdeep Singh from the National Army Museum had brought a 100-year-old camera, the same as carried by soldier in WW1, to record our visit to Lahore. A moving presentation from Monmouthshire Museums Service and Cardiff University focused on the risks and benefits of conservators in communities. This was followed by audience development, with inspiring work from Qatar Education and Cambridge University Museum. Diane Walters presented on her work in the Balkans and internationally on people with disabilities in museums. Finally, we had Glasgow Museums presenting on the Open Museums and a great project called Colourful Heritage.


Wazir Khan Mosque


After lunch it was my turn presenting on our inclusive and participative approach to ICH in Scotland. This was met with many questions and interest in our work. I then facilitated the final session with regional directors from Pakistan Museums looking at what next with some interesting and at time challenging questions.

That evening we had a wonderful visit at sunset to the Lahore Fort and the Princess Bamba Collection. This was very much the foundation of the Sikh ruling dynasty so an emotional visit for our Sikh delegate who received a blessing. Our final dinner was hosted by the Information Technology University. Saturday brought sessions on digital technologies and the final feedback session all of which was very positive from our delegation.

Pakistan was surprising, rich colourful, incredibly vibrant and somewhere I would love to return to. There are challenges but the scale and quality of the heritage deserves to have a worldwide audience.

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive, Museums Galleries Scotland

Data Protection: A Short(ish) Look at the Basics


“Yes, yes”, you may be thinking, “we know about the Data Protection Act!” However, this legislation is about to be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a regulation by which the European Commission intends to strengthen and standardise data protection for organisations and individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the tricky topic of exporting personal data outside the EU.

“That’s all very good, but what about Brexit?!” we hear you cry… Well, we’ll not be making any political statements on that one, but as we all know, Article 50 hasn’t been triggered yet, and some theorise that even when it is, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU may be a much lengthier process than has been indicated up ‘til now. It is likely to still be ongoing after the required date for implementation of the GDPR. The EU Council and the Parliament both adopted the regulation in April 2016, and the regulation will take effect after a two-year transition period, on 25 May 2018. The new regulations will be stricter than our current Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), and museums and organisations already struggling with the current DPA may find the stringent requirements of this new legislation very difficult…


So, here’s what you need to know. The current legislation is the DPA, an Act of the UK Parliament which lays down the law on the processing of data relating to identifiable living people. The DPA regulates the use of ‘personal data’ and defines eight data protection principles. The definition of personal data is data relating to a living individual who can be identified a) from that data; or b) from that data and other information in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller. In this regard, ‘data’ means information which a) is being processed by automated means; b) is recorded for processing by such equipment; c) is recorded with the intention of being part of a relevant filing system; d) does not fall within a), b) or c) but forms part of an accessible record; or e) is recorded information held by a public authority and does not fall within any of a) to d).

So information that is held on computer is data. It does not need to be properly filed. Data is also information recorded on paper if you intend to put it into a computer. This includes handwritten notes that will later be typed using a computer. Do you have CCTV in your museum? Recorded footage is data too.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 created a new category of data which extended the definition of data in the original DPA. Where information requested under FOI includes information about identifiable individuals, public authorities must consider whether its release would breach the DPA. The new category of data, often referred to as ‘category e) data’, is designed to ensure that before releasing any personal information under FOI, public authorities consider whether this would be fair. If it is deemed to be unfair, a public authority is within its rights to refuse to comply with the FOI request but should explain its reasons for this.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the DPA. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. This does not replace but is supplementary to the DPA. In the PECRs, there are specific rules on marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes; cookies (and similar technologies); keeping communications services secure; and customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings. For more information on this make sure you visit the Information Commissioner’s website.

We’ve all heard about cases of public officials leaving confidential information on the train or in taxis. How you transport data is as much a part of data security as ensuring permissions are accurate for marketing purposes. Bear in mind that anyone with free software could even recover between 30% and 90% of ‘deleted’ files from a memory stick or similar device, so be sure to dispose of data contained in mobile storage using secure deletion software.

The GDPR creates the ability for regulators to impose huge fines on organisations for compliance failures. In 2015, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK regulator for the DPA, handed out its largest fines under the UK’s current legislation for unsolicited marketing. They can fine organisations up to £500,000, and it is rare to see fines of less than six figures. The most serious offences involve children’s and vulnerable adults’ data, inclusive of photography. The GDPR strengthens this type of enforcement, and infringements of the basic principles of processing ‘including conditions for consent’ can be subject to the highest level of fines, which may be the higher of €20m or 4% of total worldwide turnover of the preceding financial year. For museums, it’s probably safe to assume that the higher of these two will be €20m but that is still not insignificant, so there are therefore twenty million very good reasons for getting yourself ready.

It’s probably best to use the remainder of 2016 to get yourself completely up-to-speed with the law as it stands at the moment – this will help you transition to the new regulations much more fluidly, which you could use 2017 to work towards. There’s a great little quiz over at which will test your knowledge of the law as it stands. We’re here to help if you have any general questions but we can’t give out legal advice – we would recommend contacting a data protection specialist if you need any professional advice on your specific operations. The main takeaway from this though… You have time: don’t panic.


With thanks to Daradjeet Jagpal of Harper McLeod LLP for his advice and proofreading.

On course for great training courses


copyright Ian Georgeson for Johnston Press

It may seem like a long time ago that we hosted our Money Matters symposium but the positive messages continue into our summer and autumn training programmes. We’ll continue to focus on financial sustainability, with an emphasis on generating income to support your mission as well as opening up alternative funding routes.

The Money Matters symposium was a fantastic success, with 86% of attendees leaving with both an understanding of how to think in a more enterprising way, and a greater awareness of the range of funding sources available. 100% of attendees said they felt more aware of the different ways to generate income. The symposium left people with a sense of empowerment…

“I had never previously considered corporate sponsorship as I knew little about it and now feel equipped to seek such sponsorship”

…with an increased enthusiasm for approaching fundraising afresh…

“I plan to attend the follow-on courses… Earlier this year we made an unsuccessful bid to the HLF Transition Fund which would have seen us on the path to better financial sustainability. We’re planning our next move towards this goal”

…and with a changed mind-set on the positive impact of different routes to sustainability…

“I am going to be proactive about trying to secure corporate sponsorship/support”.

So, how will MGS be helping museums achieve financial sustainability? Well, first up after our summer break (if you could call it that) will be our Capital & Recognition Fund Surgeries on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 August. Capital grants of up to £40,000 and Recognition grants of up to £60,000 are available, so book a telephone appointment with our Investment Manager to discuss your ideas.

Next up, on Monday 8 September, is Arts & Business Scotland’s Introduction to Fundraising. This one-day course is aimed at those new to fundraising who wish to build their knowledge, skills and confidence. You will gain an overview of the current Scottish funding landscape for arts and culture and leave with the resources that will support effective fundraising.

Reporting the social impact of your organisation in compelling and imaginative ways will open doors to funding opportunities in the future. Find out why it’s important to capture impact, how you could do this to secure funding at this free Social Impact Workshop delivered by Social Investment Scotland and MGS on Wednesday 14 September.

We’re teaming up with Social Enterprise Academy for Developing Smart Sustainability, a three-day programme (Monday 19 – Tuesday 20 September, Wednesday 26 October) designed to support learners grow an idea into a successful project for their museum. The programme will support learners to bring together a business plan including: planning for sustainability, financial management and strengthening entrepreneurial confidence to meet the challenge of developing and supporting a sustainable museum.

On Thursday 22 September, Arts & Business Scotland will give hints and tips on Being a Board Member. This half-day seminar will help board members to understand their roles and responsibilities. The session will cover how to navigate legislation; understanding formal, informal, legal and financial responsibilities; the dividing line between their role and that of the professional staff; and the difference they can make as an advocate for the organisation.

While most of us work in a non-profit manner, we all know that a wee bit of profit is always a good thing. It lets us fulfil our basic objectives as well as more ambitious projects. So, how do we get hold of some? On Tuesday 27 September, the Association for Cultural Enterprise and MGS will share their Top Retail Tips, helping you to identify your customer, plan your product, monitor your retail numbers and give the visitor a reason to buy.

The Association for Cultural Enterprises will then be teaming up with Publishing Scotland to host a Publishing Study Day in at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh on Wednesday 28 September. Hear about hot topics in the world of museum publishing from practitioners in an event aimed at organisations with publishing arms including museums, galleries and libraries.

We’ve all heard of ‘managing up’, but how do you apply this when you report to your board? On Wednesday 5 October & Wednesday 23 November, the Social Enterprise Academy and MGS will deliver Board Development, a two-day programme for senior staff. Network and learn from peers, understand roles and responsibilities, explore how to work collaboratively with the board.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about our advocacy approach so here’s your chance to apply the theory to your real world situation. On Thursday 6 October, MGS will host a Museum Messages workshop, which will help you demonstrate the impact of your work to decision makers by creating the right messages to ensure success.

Next up on Wednesday 12 October, and doing exactly what it says on the tin, is Arts & Business Scotland’s Introduction to Sponsorship. Aimed primarily at those who have little sponsorship experience, they’ll look at the basic principles and questions like “why do businesses sponsor the arts? How do you identify potential business sponsors and how should you pitch your story?” This training is for you if you are considering seeking business sponsorship for your activities or projects.

Do you have a project that you think will benefit from funding but don’t know how to articulate it? Join Arts & Business Scotland on Thursday 13 October for Telling It Like It Is: Effective Copywriting. Aimed at those who need to develop a case for support for their project or cause, it explores the copywriting process in the context of putting together an effective case for support.

Phew! That’s loads to keep your skills up to date as we head into winter. Hopefully you’ll learn some new skills to be able to apply to your work this year and into the future. Remember to keep an eye out for more upcoming training on our website, where you will also find further details on all of the MGS courses we’ve mentioned here. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Funding via Stories, Stones and Bones from HLF

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 logo
As part of the Scotland-wide celebrations for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund want to inspire people to get involved in learning about and enjoying their heritage for the first time.
Stories, Stones and Bones will encourage people in communities across Scotland to dig deeper into their past and to find out more about their local history, customs and traditions – resulting in often complex, sometimes quirky but always fascinating stories.

HLF are offering grants of £3,000 to £10,000 to projects which engage new people and a wider range of people with their history. From researching local historic landmarks, learning about natural heritage, unearthing the history beneath their feet to delving into archives, our grants will give everyone the chance to explore their heritage and celebrate and share what they learn with others.

How to apply

You can apply quickly and easily using the material on the Sharing Heritage programme page. Stories, Stones and Bones projects will need to achieve two HLF outcomes. As a result of the project:

  • more people and a wider range of people will have engaged with heritage
  • people will have learnt about heritage

If you’ve got a question about applying, or delivering your project, please contact the Scotland development team at HLF and get their advice.

There are two deadlines to apply to Stories, Stones and Bones. The first deadline is Friday 30 September 2016 (decisions in November 2016) and the second is Tuesday 31 January 2017 (decisions in March 2017).

Text adapted for brevity from original by HLF. 

Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Work with Partners

We’re Dig It! 2017 and we work in partnership all the time. In fact, partnership is essential to our success. However, it can be challenging and scary at times. In that spirit, we’re sharing four reasons why you should definitely NOT work with external partners:


1. They think it’s all fun and games

When we first heard about a “virtual Lego” game called Minecraft, it sounded like the perfect way to engage young people on their terms – until we realised that we had no idea how to use it. The game was already wildly popular, but it hadn’t quite hit the heritage sector yet. We wanted to get ahead of the craze, so we reached out to a few contacts and were introduced to Stephen Reid from ImmersiveMinds, who immediately sold us on the idea of live digs and 1:1 scale builds. Skip ahead to today and ImmersiveMinds has become a regular feature in the heritage sector, while our Crafting the Past project is attracting major press attention, featuring at massing gaming festivals and engaging with hundreds of young people across Scotland (and the world).

Crafting the Past

Topographically accurate Minecraft recreation of Penicuik House as part of Crafting the Past (Credit: ImmersiveMind)


2. They like to show off

We knew that we needed our project to stand out from the crowd before it launched, but we didn’t have the necessary branding skills to make that happen. After identifying this gap, we went along to a networking event where we met Jump Marketing. We chatted about our respective visions over a drink (or two) and the rest is history. Our bright pink brand, website and marketing materials are all thanks to their team (who now work on several heritage projects) and our mutual trust and different expertise means that we have continued to team up for projects and funding bids.

Dig It! 2015 Website

Jump Marketing‘s Dig It! 2015 website has promoted hundreds of events across Scotland


3. They run with a different crowd

Our Your Future in the Past programme brought careers events across Scotland, often with an emphasis on “unexpected” heritage careers. We knew that one of the biggest challenges would be getting young people through the doors if they already thought that “history isn’t for me”. Luckily, we were approached by North Ayrshire Council about a different event and the idea for the Irvine fair was developed from there. Working together with the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and North Ayrshire Council meant that we could tackle their biggest challenges, while they could tackle ours. Thanks to their school contacts, the Irvine fair was one of the most popular events in the entire Your Future in the Past programme.


4. They’ll tell you tall tales

Capacity is always tricky when you have a small team, especially when it comes to events. As the Scottish Storytelling Centre hosts the fantastic International Scottish Storytelling Festival each year, we knew that we could learn a thing or two. When they approached us about a partnership, we jumped at the opportunity to create a joint campaign. By combining staff resources for Dig Where You Stand, we were able to co-host events, create themed learning materials and promote both programmes. Keep your eyes peeled for even more archaeology-storytelling crossovers next year!


We’ve worked strategically by teaming up with organisations who share our aims or target audiences, but we’ve also been flexible and open to opportunities as they pop up. The resulting partnerships have required investment, upkeep and communication, but in return, they’ve allowed us to try new things, access different skill sets, reach a wider audience and double our resources.

With Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (HHA2017) just around the corner, now is the perfect time to ignore our advice, embrace these valuable partnerships and see what happens. We’ll be working with Museums Galleries Scotland on next year’s Festival of Museums by helping anyone who wants to run events with an archaeology flair and spreading the HHA2107 celebrations. If you have any questions or want to chat about teaming up for Festival of Museums, HHA2017 or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us at


FoM Save the Date