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Chair and Trustees Beamish Museum

Are you passionate about North East history, culture and heritage? Help shape the future of one of the North East’s largest and most successful visitor attractions by joining the board at Beamish Museum.

  • Location: Beamish, County Durham
  • Salary: Unremunerated, expenses reimbursed
  • Closing date: CLOSED FOR APPLICATIONS

Beamish is a unique living, working museum that uses its collections to connect with people from all walks of life, telling the story of everyday life in the North East of England through time.

We are innovative, self-reliant, entrepreneurial and forward looking, and welcome over 800,000 visitors a year. The museum delivers significant economic and social benefits for communities in the North East. Some 50% of our visitors are tourists, boosting the region’s visitor economy, and we are one of the biggest non-public sector employers in North West Durham, employing 400 staff and supported by over 500 volunteers. Our community and learning work is nationally recognised, and we engage with many thousands of people both on and off the museum site through our community participation programmes.

We are a leader in how we use our Accredited and Designated collection to develop bold new ways of experiencing the heritage of the region, and others look to us as an exemplar in our field. Recently we were confirmed by VisitEngland as number 11 in the most-visited paid for attractions in the UK and we have an international reputation and reach, which we are keen to further build on.

There are many things that make us unique but what really sets us apart is offering a truly immersive experience, connecting people and communities together to share stories, experiences and learning and enabling visitors and local communities – many of whom have donated to our collection, to be integral to our ongoing evolution and development.

As we look forward we have taken steps to modernise and refresh our governance and now seek to build a brand new board – a board which is diverse and skills and expertise-based, reflecting best practice in the cultural sector. As the incoming board, you will have a fundamentally important role in shaping the future development of the museum. Working alongside the CEO, executive team, staff, volunteers and other stakeholders, you will use your skills, knowledge and experience to help set the future strategic direction of the museum, building on Beamish’s success to date, and ensuring it continues to grow, develop and thrive.

You will join us at an exciting time as we move towards the completion of our flagship project Remaking Beamish, and move into new areas such as self-catering accommodation and further expanding our commercial development and partnership work.  As we complete these projects we expect to have a period of embedding and consolidation. However, we never stand still for long, and this is a great opportunity to play a pivotal role in shaping our future strategic direction for generations of people to come.

Who we are looking for

For all new board members we are looking for a diverse range of people who are forward thinking, open-minded, collegiate, constructive and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

We would also expect you to demonstrate a passion for Beamish and the unique and wide-ranging contribution it makes to the North East of England, its people and communities, who see Beamish as “their museum”.

Chair

We are seeking expressions of interest from appropriately qualified individuals who can demonstrate the following:

  • Experience of positively “setting the tone”, and developing a close and productive working relationships between executive teams and board members, which have resulted in a demonstrable track record of organisations you have previously chaired thriving and achieving development goals, and operating in bold new ways.
  • Have experience of chairing a complex organisation (or equivalent experience) and, ideally, experience of governance change.
  • Being an inspiring leader for a forward-looking board and ability to harness the diverse thoughts and contributions of every board member, in an inclusive and supportive way.
  • Being an impactful and authoritative ambassador and a champion for Beamish, with a reputation and standing in your professional field.

 

  • Having keen commercial and financial acumen and an understanding of how this is applied in the context of a charity with a trading arm, with a consolidated turnover of in excess of £10M.
  • Possess experience that will enable the board to provide the balance of challenge and support that drives strategic direction and growth.
  • Have the knowledge and first hand experience of best practice governance and the operation of a high performing board.
  • Build on Beamish’s excellent existing networks, and actively engage with an even wider community of key stakeholders and supporters at a local, regional, national and international level for the benefit of the museum and its constituent communities.
  • Have an understanding of the wider policy context in which Beamish operates, including the cultural sector and the visitor economy.

Trustees

We are seeking a diverse range of trustees with experience and track record in one or more of the following areas:

  • Commercial – hotel and or leisure, visitor attraction management, retail industries
  • Environment/ sustainability
  • Health and Safety
  • Human resources
  • Equalities, diversity and inclusion
  • Health networks and expertise, to support the future development of our health and wellbeing programmes: expansion of our nationally-recognised work with people living with dementia and other long term health conditions

 

 

 

  • Accounting/ financial services
  • An understanding of commercial trading arms
  • Construction and development/ capital development
  • Legal
  • Impact and evaluation
  • Fundraising networks, links and connections that are of mutual benefit to Beamish

 

We are keen to welcome a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to the board and this includes people who may be at the start of their career and new to trusteeship.

Diversity, inclusion, and equal access are fundamental priorities for Beamish Museum. Access to the museum’s facilities, exhibits, collections, participation opportunities, diverse stories and experiences are offered to all irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. We constantly endeavour to improve our approach and foster a friendly, positive work environment supported by a culture underpinned by respect and fairness.

We particularly welcome applications from disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates as well as applications from LGB, Trans and non-binary candidates as underrepresented people within the museum. We also welcome applications from individuals at an earlier stage of their career and may be new to trusteeship.

Time Commitment

The board currently meets five times a year at Beamish (please note – this is subject to review by the incoming chair and board). The time of board meetings has been 6pm – 8pm.

We offer the flexibility for board members to attend virtually as and when required.

We currently have three committees; Finance, Audit and Risk; Health and Safety; HR and people development. A further committee has been overseeing our Remaking Beamish capital project.

We expect the time commitment to be initially up to two to three days a month for the chair as the new board forms and becomes established. For the trustees we expect the time commitment to be c. one day a month.

The time commitment will include board meetings, reading board papers, preparation for meetings, any additional committee meetings, ad hoc conversations, supporting the executive team where expertise can add specific value to museum projects and particular agendas such as embedding the Arts Council England’s Invesment Principles. We are also seeking assistance in stewarding and cultivating relationships that offer mututal benefits to the museum including financial and other sources of support, networks and new connections, and would expect the incoming chair and trustees to play a key role in being active ambassadors for Beamish.

For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Philippa Fabry | philippa@peridotpartners.co.uk | 077729 02071

Liz Holderness | liz@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07872 031079

Philippa-Fabry-Director-of-Not-for-Profit-Peridot-Partners

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Philippa Fabry

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Welcome from the CEO and Independent Chair – Nominations Committee

Dear applicant

On behalf of the current board of trustees at Beamish Museum, I’d like to thank you for your interest in supporting the museum as it enters an exciting stage of its development.

We have recently gone through a process to refresh our governance. This will enable us to create a diverse, skills-based trustee body that reflects best practice in the culture sector and to support the museum to continue to grow and thrive, both operationally and strategically. This will deepen and extend our range of expertise as we move into new areas of business including self-catering accommodation, expanding partnerships and commercial programmes and as we prosper from our flagship capital project, Remaking Beamish.

Beamish is one of North East England’s major tourist attractions, making a significant contribution to the regional economy. We hold designated, regional museum collections with national significance, have a global reputation for visitor engagement, and we pride ourselves in delivering a first-class visitor experience.

Beamish is more than a museum. We are a community. We make memories. We provide health and wellbeing activities, and have become leaders in our field for activity-based sessions with and for older adults and people living with dementia.

We provide a range of curriculum-linked learning activities, and welcome around 45,000 children and young people a year through school visits. Responding to the region’s need for more engineers, we have developed a STEM learning programme, targeted at primary aged children, which aims to ignite a passion for STEM –related subjects. We are extremely proud of the work that we do and the feedback we receive from our visitors for whom Beamish makes a difference.

This is an important time in the museum’s journey. We are entering into the final phase of Remaking Beamish, a £20million investment programme (including an award of £10.9million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund) which has seen us opening a 1950s terrace, a park and recreation ground, and move a farm stone-by-stone from Weardale to the museum. Over the next few years, the final phase of the project will include the opening of a cinema, a toy shop and electrical shop, amongst others.

We are also developing our Georgian area; bringing existing buildings back into use to create self-catering accommodation units, so that visitors can stay with us overnight. Our entrepreneurial spirit has really driven the museum’s growth over the past decade, and we are always looking to offer our visitors new and exciting ways to experience the region’s heritage.

We are privileged to have fabulous relationships with our partners and stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally, as well as our Friends of Beamish and Business Friends communities.

The people who bring Beamish to life, either as a member of staff or as a volunteer, are passionate and committed to everything the museum is here to do.

If you are as excited about our future as we are, and interested in hearing more about this opportunity, then our search agency partner Peridot are waiting to hear from you.

I wish you well with your application and would like to thank you again for your interest in Beamish Museum.

Rhiannon Hiles, CEO Beamish Museum

Dear applicant

Thank you so much for taking an interest in this opportunity, at what is such an exciting stage of Beamish Museum’s development.

I have been appointed by Beamish’s current board as an independent chair for the nominations committee to help with their ambitious plan of appointing a number of new board trustees including a chair. In this time-limited, voluntary role my aim is to ensure that the process of appointment is fair, equitable and inclusive, whilst ensuring conflicts of interest are managed appropriately. The committee is responsible for selecting and recommending the appointment  of a chair and up to 14 trustees, including one nomination from Durham County Council.

As a former resident of the North East for some 16 years, I’m personally very invested in the success of the region. As a trustee of Newcastle-based arts organisation Dance City, I’ve been aware of the makeup of the cultural wider sector in the North East and have long admired the growth and development of Beamish over the past decade. I’ve also enjoyed many a memorable visit with my family! Beamish clearly plays a vitally important role in boosting the region’s economy, in both visitor terms and the fact that it is one of the largest non-public sector employers in North West Durham.

The community work the museum delivers is extensive and compelling – providing a value for money offer to North East families through the Unlimited Pass (pay once, visit as often as you like), through in depth project work with communities facing significant challenge, and through learning and skills work, to name a few areas. I was therefore so pleased to be approached; and delighted to be able to help.

I’m personally and professionally interested in developing the very best of practice in approaches to good governance. I trust that my experience as an HR professional and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and my current experience as a Company Secretary in the Higher Education sector alongside the support of my experienced  fellow colleagues on the nominations committee, the museum’s executive team, and their recruitment partner Peridot, will help me support the museum through this crucial process.

I am supported by my nominations committee colleagues, comprising of Iain Watson OBE – the second independent member, and three outgoing Beamish trustees – Cllr Alison Batey, Gillian Miller, and Sarah Stewart OBE DL. I am most grateful to them for their time, expertise and energy.

Should you have any specific, technical queries about our approach to the governance review process, I’m sure our colleagues at Peridot will be able to assist in the first instance, and if need be, signpost you to the museum’s executive team.

I would like to thank you once again for your interest in this opportunity and I look forward to meeting you as part of the process.

Roshan Israni, Independent Chair – Nominations Committee

About Beamish

Beamish is a renowned living museum telling the story of the people of North East England from the 1820s through to the 1950s. The museum is located in County Durham, 12 miles north west of Durham City and eight miles south west of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Beamish is the North East’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction and it has recently been confirmed by the VisitEngland that we are number 11 in the most-visited paid for attractions in the country, on the basis of our 2021 figures, which saw the museum recovering incredibly strongly from the Covid pandemic. No other North East visitor attractions are in the top 20.

We welcome c. 800,000 visitors in a “normal” year, and unusually for a museum, we’ve found that some 50% of our visitors are in the C2DE socio-economic group, and that our fastest growing audience segment is families on low incomes. This is a source of huge pride for us, and reflects the diverse, everyday stories that we tell. In a normal year, we have also found that c. 50% of visitors are tourists. Of that group, half are coming to the region specifically to visit Beamish – meaning that the museum has a vitally important role in powering up the North East’s visitor economy.

Beamish was the first museum to open in the region, following the lockdown in March 2020, and the quality and speed of our innovation and creativity were recognised nationally at the Museums + Heritage Awards, where we were awarded the Pandemic Pivot (large organisations) title, beating off stiff competition from the Museum of London and the National Army Museum.

We’re extremely proud of this award, which is a testimony to the commitment and skill of the museum team in steering Beamish through the pandemic – bringing in as much income as possible, and identifying bold and appealing new ways of continuing to engage with our loyal visitors, who could not wait to return and support us.

The museum exists to preserve the North East’s social, industrial and agricultural heritage, using our outstanding collections to share stories of everyday life in the past. Visitors don’t just learn about the region’s history – they become immersed in the sights, sounds and even tastes of the past: from shopping in a typical Edwardian town, to experiencing life on the Home Front in WW2 on a real working farm, to finding out what life was like in a North East colliery in the early 1900s – including crawling underground in the mine. Visitors travel on authentic period trams, buses and trains to cross the site, and at every step of the way costumed staff and volunteers are available to chat and provide information.

Our Founder

Beamish was set up in 1970 by curator Frank Atkinson, with the support of all of the North East local authorities. Frank’s vision was to create a museum ‘for the people by the people’. He realised that the region was changing dramatically; losing traditional industries such as coal mining and shipbuilding, and the communities that served them. To preserve this heritage he pioneered ‘unselective collecting’, encouraging donations of everything from buildings to everyday objects. Since then, Beamish has continued to develop across its site, staying true to Frank’s progressive, founding vision. Beamish is a registered charity, currently turning over some £12M per year and welcoming c. 800,000 visitors in a “normal” year. We employ 400 staff and are supported by over 500 volunteers. Our staff and volunteers operate as one joined up team – we’re proud of the fact that our visitors can’t tell who is CEO and who is a volunteer, as all of our team are in period costume!

Our guiding principles

  • Putting our visitors first in everything we do
  • Genuine community engagement – enabling participation in the making of the museum, the activities and stories we tell, creating enduring, meaningful and diverse connections
  • Self-reliance and entrepreneurial spirit – always looking for new opportunities to innovate and grow to reach more people

The museum has a strong community of support including over 6,000 Friends and almost 70 Business Friends of Beamish. The Business Friends scheme was at six partners in 2015, and we are really thrilled with the growth in membership and excited by the potential to develop new income streams through our business networks, including growing corporate use of our distinctive spaces.

Beamish works with a wide range of partner organisations, and we have strong, extensive networks locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. These networks extend across culture, visitor economy, the business community and specialist areas such as health, cultural learning, cultural enterprise and retail development; plus all of our constituent North East local authorities. We are often approached for specialist advice by other museums and cultural organisations, which we are always happy to assist with.

Education/Engagement

We passionately believe that every child growing up in the North East should have the opportunity to visit Beamish, so they have an understanding of the region in which they are growing up in. To this end, we welcome circa 45,000 children and young people per year on educational visits, and offer a wider range of curriculum-linked learning activities. We are funded by the Reece Foundation to offer a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) learning programme, which has been delivered since 2015 and has been going from strength-to-strength, inspiring young people to consider STEM related subjects for as they move forward into comprehensive school. Our innovative work with communities also includes award-winning health and wellbeing programmes and activity-based sessions with older adults and people living with dementia.

Health and wellbeing

As part of Remaking Beamish we will develop a pioneering and fully accessible period space within a replicated block of Aged Miners’ Homes, set in the 1950s, offering enjoyable, meaningful and reflective activities for adults with additional needs, people living with dementia, their care givers and families with the aim of enhancing wellbeing, self-confidence and mental health.

Over the past decade our work with older people and those living with dementia and other long term health conditions has gone from strength to strength and the museum now has a national reputation for this work. Demand for health and wellbeing sessions has increased beyond pre-pandemic levels as local health providers and local authorities look to combat the broader social and health related impacts of lockdown i.e. poor mental health and social isolation.

We now engage on average 500 participants each month in a range of sessions including wood working, singing and music, walking and seated exercise. By 2023 we aim to have developed both our skills and partnerships with healthcare professionals, to position us to be able to offer an even broader range of supported activity across the museum site, using the Aged Miners’ Homes as a vibrant space to welcome visits from groups with a range of needs.

Click the links to view health and wellbeing work with Kids Kabin and Northumbria University.

 

Remaking Beamish

Beamish has an exciting future ahead – we are currently delivering the biggest development in our history – the £20million Remaking Beamish project, which includes a 1950s Town, 1950s Spain’s Field Farm and expansion of the Georgian landscape, including examples of early cottage industries such as a working pottery and a smithy. The Georgian developments also include bringing existing buildings back into use as self-catering accommodation units, so we will be able to offer overnight stays, generating income for the museum and creating bold new ways to experience the heritage on the North East.

The Remaking Beamish project, which is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is due to complete in 2023.

Find out more about the museum at our website.

Commercial

We have had a strong focus on developing our commercial activity and have brought this work together under one team of specialists, who have been creating ranges of products inspired by our collection and the stories that we tell, and exclusively available at Beamish. Our commercial work has been recognised nationally – most recently we were awarded the “Shop of the Year” accolade at the Cultural Enterprises Awards. The shop of the year is in fact our hugely successful market stalls on our Edwardian town street, which grew out of the pandemic – making as much visitor engagement available as possible outdoors.

The senior leadership team (SLT) has undertaken a targeted range of strategic and operational activities over the past decade to make the museum self-sustaining. We have been a financially self-reliant charity for some time (the Covid pandemic notwithstanding!), and turn over some £12M p/a. covering operating costs from a mix of admissions and trading income.

Beamish has been regularly funded by Arts Council England (ACE) since 2012; first as a Major Partner Museum and then as an “NPO”, or National Portfolio Organisation, receiving c. £440K per annum. We proactively take a leadership role in the cultural sector, proactively providing support to other museums on topics such as museum education, business planning, and cultural tourism.

Diversity, Inclusion and Equality of Access – our commitment

We want Beamish to be a place where everyone feels welcome and everyone’s story is valued.  Celebrating and sharing the experiences of people whose lives, loves, backgrounds and experiences of the world differ but all people who are connected to the North East.

Sometimes this might mean telling stories that are not comfortable to hear but which have nonetheless shaped the people and the North East region, and continue to impact our understanding of the world. Stories about the cruelty of poverty and the rise of the trade unions; the dangers of childbirth and the changing role of women, illness and the birth of the NHS; the prevalence of industrial accidents and the in/visibility of disabled people within society or simply our ongoing love of a cup of tea and a biscuit and the deeply uncomfortable history of these household staples.

We have been working with a number of specialist partner organisations including TIN Arts, Curious Arts and Karbon Homes to explore how we tell these stories within the museum, and are committed to building on this work. We have developed a number of collaborative projects with partners including Durham University to further develop how we tell more diverse stories.

Summary of the Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) project with Durham University

Nostalgia and the transformation of working-class heritage develops an interdisciplinary methodology to present a radical framework for rethinking sites of working-class heritage, from relatively homogenous, celebratory depictions to stories that situate the classed past in global and colonial contexts. Designed in collaboration with specialist colleagues from both Beamish and Durham University, this project engages with current heritage debates on nationalism, emotion and colonialism but goes beyond them by examining ‘classed’ nostalgia, typically neglected in scholarship. The CDA student will interrogate the nostalgia at work in the museum to identify how the ‘whiteness’ of working-class heritage can be transformed to generate ‘honesty without hostility’ in museum policy and practice.

EDI statement

Diversity, inclusion, and equal access are fundamental priorities for Beamish Museum. Access to the museum’s facilities, exhibits, collections, participation opportunities, diverse stories and experiences are offered to all irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. We constantly endeavour to improve our approach and foster a friendly, positive work environment supported by a culture underpinned by respect and fairness.

We recruit on the basis of aptitude, positive attitude and potential, and work to ensure people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to work within the heritage sector. This is prioritised above academic qualifications and we support non-traditional routes into work. We recognise and value transferable skills and diverse experiences as a form of expertise. We particularly welcome applications from disabled and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates as well as applications from LGB, Trans and non-binary candidates as underrepresented people within the museum.

The Board

Beamish has gone through a process to refresh governance arrangements and to ensure that this reflects best practice in the cultural sector, aligns with the Charity Governance Code recommendations and will position the museum to continue to grow and thrive as it enters the next stage of development.

Revised Articles of Association were adopted in May 2022 and make provision for the recruitment of a trustee body based on skills and expertise. One seat on the board will be reserved for a nominee from Durham County Council, which is Beamish’s home local authority and also the museum’s landlord. Other constituent local authorities; Gateshead, Newcastle and South Tyneside have relinquished their nomination rights and will continue engage with the museum through its Regional Stakeholder Group.

Beamish is committed to equality and diversity and want to ensure the board has a diverse range of skills and expertise to support the museum to further develop the world class, immersive experience that is a visit to Beamish, provide support and constructive challenge to the executive and strategically support the museum as it moves into new areas of business including self-catering accommodation as well as expanding partnerships and commercial programmes.

It is expected the Board will be supported by a committee structure including:

  1. Finance, Audit and Risk Committee
  2. Health and Safety Committee
  3. HR Committee

Accessibility

Some examples of our accessibility provisions include

  • Step free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome
  • Interviews can be held in meeting rooms that support hearing loops
  • Papers and materials can be presented in different formats
  • A sign language interpreter can be accessed for interview

If you have any further needs around accessibility, please get in touch with the advising consultant for a confidential chat on how we can best fulfil your needs.

Philippa Fabry | philippa@peridotpartners.co.uk | 077729 02071

Liz Holderness | liz@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07872 031079

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    Thank you for your interest in this role.

    Please download the Chair Role Description or Trustee Role Description and complete this Equality Monitoring Survey.

    To formally apply, please submit a CV and supporting statement (ideally maximum 2 sides of A4 each) that clearly outlines your suitability for the role against the criteria provided in the person specification, including your interest and motivation in applying for this position.

    Please ensure that your application is emailed to response@peridotpartners.co.uk.

    For the role of Chair please insert “Beamish Museum – Chair” into the subject field.

    For the role of Trustee please insert “Beamish Museum – Trustee” into the subject field.

    For further information about the role, or to arrange a confidential discussion, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

    Philippa Fabry | philippa@peridotpartners.co.uk | 077729 02071

    Liz Holderness | liz@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07872 031079

    We wish to encourage applications regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, age or religion or belief.

    All applications will be considered solely on merit.

    Applicants with a disability are invited to contact us in confidence at any point during the recruitment process to discuss steps that could be taken to overcome operational difficulties presented by the role, or if any adjustments or support are required regarding the recruitment process.

    Timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 7th November 2022
    All Candidates informed of outcome: Wednesday 16th November 2022
    First Stage Interviews for the Chair: Tuesday 22nd November 2022
    Second Stage Interviews for the Chair: Tuesday 29th November 2022
    First Stage interviews for the Trustees: w/c 9th January 2023
    Second Stage interviews for the Trustees: Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th January 2023

    Board meeting and induction: February 2023

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Beamish Museum are committed to promoting equality and diversity. To help us raise awareness and support a culture that is diverse and recognises and develops the potential of all, we need to appreciate the profile of candidates who apply for positions. We would therefore be most grateful if you would complete this  equality monitoring survey.

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    The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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