Audience Development Consultant

Deadline: Friday, November 13, 2020 - 17:00
Employer: The Powell-Cotton Museum
Contract Duration: Until 1st July 2022
Contract Type: Consultant
Salary: Contract Value £15,000

The Powell-Cotton Museum invites applications for an Audience Development Consultant (ADC) to lead on building networks with the Museum’s local communities (both well represented and underrepresented) and to develop a series of workshops and focus group sessions that will bring those audiences into our ‘Colonial Critters’ project. This work aims to establish best practice for working with community groups going forward and is a test case for collaborative interpretation and research for museum displays and activities across the Powell-Cotton in the future.

Colonial Critter project:

The Colonial Critters project, and this audience development contract, will be the starting point for a museum-wide shift into proactive engagement and community collaboration. Historically, the Museum has focused on audiences who already felt ‘at home’ in our space and comfortable with our historic interpretation and displays. Community engagement projects we have undertaken have been small interventions, and often timebound, where relationships with underrepresented audiences have trailed away as funding finishes. Colonial Critters is more than a short-term project; it will be a test bed that creates a framework for community engagement and collaboration to be embedded within the organisation.

The Powell-Cotton Museum’s dioramas are visual spectacles that delight audiences but aren’t representations of ‘real life’. This is an intrinsically colonial collection – the mounted animals were hunted across Africa and the Indian subcontinent, mainly in regions under European colonial control. Their histories as both living animals and museum objects are bound up in colonisation and its exploitation of natural resources and human labour. The dioramas represent much more than just the remains of long-dead animals: they are time capsules, unchanged since they were built, preserving Percy Powell-Cotton’s view of the world. But this is only the most visible layer of a complicated story that has never been fully explored. Present interpretation is exclusionary, singularly focused on the Powell-Cotton point of view.

Colonial Critters will thoroughly research the history of the dioramas and produce new interpretation for the natural history galleries, informed by our audiences. Through this process we hope to refresh our oldest galleries, using these historical displays to tell new stories about the many people – and animals – who made the Museum.

We want this project to be democratising: we will bring our audience with us on this journey to better understand our shared past and decide where we want to be as a museum in the future. We will engage with our various stakeholders through workshops and focus groups using the archives and collections, and take the collections out into accessible, safe community spaces and create temporary ‘pop-up museums’ in the local area. Through this process, we hope to break down some of the visible and invisible barriers to access that currently exist and give space and representation to many voices within the Museum.

The brief:

The Audience Development Consultant will work with our Project Team to deliver the following:

· Identify the priority audience groups for the project. Consider the characteristics, needs and interests of each audience group and identify how best to overcome any barriers and engage with them to promote greater understanding of the aims and objectives of the project.
· Develop communication messages / approaches which incorporate strong project brands appropriate to the needs and interests of the target audiences.
· Plan and cost a programme of events and activities to engage communities that include but are not limited to:
o The development and delivery of focus groups with specific community groups with the purpose to provide audience feedback on our research and to steer the development of new interpretation for displays.
o In collaboration with our Learning and Engagement officers, develop and deliver a ‘pop-up museum’ for use at local festivals, heritage open days, community centres and libraries for the purposes of publicising the project as it develops and gather audience feedback.

· Deliver (with support of project team members) the programme of events and activities to engage communities.
· Develop and deliver a training programme in audience development and community engagement for project team members. The purpose is to upskill team members and embed new practices within the organisation.
· Undertake evaluation on each aspect of the project and provide a comprehensive report on the audience development and community engagement aspects of the project so that the Museum has a framework and lessons learnt for moving forward with future projects of this nature.

We are looking for someone who is passionate about helping us change our museum audience landscape and build a more inclusive future. We expect applicants to have extensive knowledge of audience development and collaborative activity in the heritage sector and an understanding of the existing barriers that exclude non-audiences so that we can work to break those down at the Powell-Cotton Museum.

Colonial Critters will be of interest to anyone looking at ways in which we can decolonise museums through broadening participation, collaborative learning, and interpretation development.