Strategic Plan 2019 - 2024
We have agreed a Strategic Plan for 2019-2024 to maintain our forward momentum as we embark upon the development of the Devizes Assize Court as the new home of the Wiltshire Museum. The key focus of this plan is to deepen our engagement with audiences though our high-profile exhibition programme, engaging with a wider community and meeting the needs of under-represented audiences. These areas are important to prepare the Museum for the challenges of a major capital programme and to ensure that our focus remains on our audiences and users.
We remain a small organisation facing substantial financial challenges, with our income already fully committed. We value the partnerships we have developed and generating funding for specific projects has become an essential element of our finances. We need to maintain our partnerships and success in fundraising to enable us to thrive and prosper.
The Strategic Plan was agreed by the Board in August 2019 and by our members at our AGM in October 2019.
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Devizes Assize Court
We announced in September 2016 that the Society is looking at the potential of moving the Wiltshire Museum to the Devizes Assize Courts, turning the historic building into a landmark tourism asset for the county.
The building is listed Grade II* and on the Historic England Buildings at Risk Register. It has been empty since the 1980’s. The owner has had planning permission and listed building consent to convert the building into flats for a number of years but has not yet implemented the permission. It is hoped the building can be acquired for community use.
Relocating the Museum to the Assize Courts would be a transformational project, linked to a newly revitalised area of the town. It could be a world-class building matching the importance of our internationally significant Designated collections. The building would offer more space, including a café, new library and purpose-built galleries.
The Director and Trustees of the Museum have begun investigating this opportunity. A business plan has been developed to ensure that a move would be financially sustainable and ensure any additional costs of running the new Museum could be met by income from increased visitors and from investing the sale proceeds of the current property.
An online poll following the announcement showed that there is lots of support for the idea of the project amongst WANHS members and the wider community in Devizes. It will be two or more years before a decision can be made on whether to go ahead with the project, and is conditional on the building being acquired for such use. A major fund-raising campaign would be needed to restore the building to its former glory and create the new Museum, which could open in five to ten years’ time. Meanwhile the Museum continues to develop its existing offer and attract increasing numbers of visitors and new members.
National Portfolio Organisation (NPO)
Over the last few years, we have been working with Salisbury Museum, Dorset County Museum and Poole Museums Service as the Wessex Museums Partnership. The Arts Council have supported the Partnership with grants to undertake activity such as marketing, development and fundraising. Our museums have now formed the Wessex Museums Trust, a charitable organisation that will support projects and developments across the Partnership.
In June 2017 the Arts Council announced that the Wessex Museums Partnership, led by Poole Museums Service, is to be one of the new National Portfolio Organisations. This means that the Partnership joins organisations such as the RSC, Punchdrunk Theatre Company and the Royal Philharmonic to deliver ‘great arts and culture for everyone’. The £1.2 million grant over four years will support outreach and exhibition projects, including a Community Curator working across Wiltshire and an Exhibitions Officer for the Museum.
Strategic Plan 2014-2019
Our previous Strategic Plan is here - Strategic Plan for 2014 to 2019,
2017/18 Forward Plan
The main actions this year are to create a new Special Exhibition Gallery, enhance our special exhibitions programme, launch a new website and to prepare the implementation of the Wessex Museums Partnership NPO project that will begin in April 2018.
2016/17 Forward Plan
The Forward Plan outlined a range of activity including the Wiltshire’s Story in 100 Objects exhibition, featuring the Lacock Cup (see page 12), the completion of the Art and Archaeology storage project, fundraising events, delivering the Wessex Museums Partnership project and developing a funding application to the Arts Council for National Portfolio Organisation status. The majority of the targets were achieved.
We have noted the delay of the Development Control Order decision that was announced by the Government on 16 July.