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Chair of the Board of Trustees The Story Museum

Become the next Chair of The Story Museum, an award-winning one-of-a-kind Museum which immerses thousands of children annually in the world of books, bringing stories to life through boundless creativity and deeply engaging experiences; educating and inspiring the next generation of readers in its incredible reimagining of the written word.

  • Location: Oxford/online
  • Salary: Reasonable expenses paid
  • Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 11th June

© Andrew Walsley

Who we are

The Story Museum exists to enrich lives, especially young lives, through stories. It achieves this from its most unusual Museum in Oxford where great stories are shared in the most incredible variety of powerful, funny and engaging ways.

Thanks to a creative and committed staff, they devise an imaginative programme of permanent and temporary exhibitions, performances, interactive workshops, skills-building courses and online engagement. Located in the heart of Oxford, it brings stories to life, unlocking the next generation’s creativity and imagination.

So much more than simply a ‘museum,’ The Story Museum brings stories to life through interactive exhibits, talks, shows and a beautifully curated collection highlighting the history of storytelling.

The Museum believes passionately in highlighting the human need for stories and takes pride in celebrating and devising the many innovative ways that people can benefit from them. They collect great and diverse stories and share them in the most engaging ways possible.

Founded in 2003 as the first museum dedicated to stories in the world, The Story Museum has grown in scope and ambition. Truly one-of-a-kind, the museum is a fountain of creativity and innovation, rightly recognised with its NPO accreditation, as a Museum of the Year 2022 finalist, the RIBA South Award winner 2022, and a 2021 Civic Trust Awards Regional finalist.

Prominent actors such as Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond, and Julian Clary lend their voices to displays, leading children’s authors such as Cressida Cowell and Malorie Blackman partner and curate with the Museum, and Chris Riddell, Sir Michael Morpurgo, and Sir Philip Pullman are among their patrons.

photo (c) John Cairns

From the cloud-dappled courtyard, surrounded by their 2000 sq metre series of buildings within central Oxford, the Museum contains a story-telling experience for every child, no matter their age. Their work is rich and varied; entitled “1001 Stories”, the collection houses every kind of story, allowing children to interact with them in a variety of ways. This includes interactive physical spaces such as the Enchanted Library and Whispering Woods, which offer rich atmospheres to explore, and their 100-seat ‘Woodshed’ theatre lets children find their own voices in an exciting and immersive acoustic experience.

The Story Museum is an innovative, physically engaging world filled with stunning theatrical props, talking trees and incredible attention to detail that bring children’s favourite stories to life.

Visitors can explore Narnia’s wintery landscape hidden behind wardrobe doors, discover Alice’s Wonderland, learn about their planet from the perspective of an ant in an exhibit built from recycled materials, and choose their own adventure in a branching story which they create from 33 intricately crafted boxes.

In addition to the engaging interactive spaces where touching is actively encouraged, the Museum also engages in a huge variety of exciting workshops and programmes. From the retelling of traditional African stories and folktales from Asia to family jukeboxes and comic-writing groups, the Museum showcases a diverse set of stories and experiences for children from all backgrounds and experiences.

In terms of outreach, the Museum works with 8 schools and 4 community centres from the Oxfordshire area, offering free activities to the students who need them most.

Children and their education are at the heart of what they do – spaces are designed to stimulate and inspire, and their content is regularly co-created alongside young people who take part in their programmes.

The Museum finds itself at the precipice of the next exciting phase. Following redevelopment, the Museum has set its sights on becoming recognised both regionally and nationally for the iconic work that it does, aiming to be a beacon of education and a cultural leader in the storytelling space.

With their former Chair stepping down after 3 successful terms, they seek a new Chair to help oversee their governance, prioritise key targets, and drive financial and strategic growth.

About the role

The Story Museum is a registered charity with a Board of non-executive trustees who are legally responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of the organisation, with day-to-day responsibilities delegated to the CEO and senior leadership team.

The Chair of the Board provides effective leadership by chairing board meetings throughout the year, working closely with the executive leadership team, and scrutinizing the charity’s progress against its strategy and charitable objects.

The Chair acts as an ambassador for The Story Museum, helping to raise its profile, build its network, and provide support to fundraising initiatives. The Board’s governance is strong, and trustees are highly committed and engaged – bringing the necessary energy and scrutiny to meetings. Led by experienced and renowned CEO Caroline Jones, The Story Museum has a dedicated, engaged and talented executive team — all united by a passion for the importance of children’s storytelling.

The Board and Executive have a healthy, amiable and professional relationship, ensuring the organisation has challenge and support in equal measure.

The Chair of the Board is expected to:

  • Establish effective partnerships between the Board, the executive, and stakeholders.
  • Ensure the Board operates at a high level underpinned by an inclusive atmosphere and active contribution from all members.
  • Attend and chair quarterly Board meetings, quarterly committee meetings, the AGM, and an annual inspiration day board meeting.
  • Have regular routine meetings with the Museum Director and other senior staff to act as a sounding board, provide additional scrutiny, and assist in response to urgent issues if they arise.
  • Act as an ambassador at external events with an eye to secure additional funding.
  • Represent the Museum to key stakeholders, including Arts Council England representatives and funders.

Time commitment and meeting structure

The time commitment for this role is estimated at 1-2 days a month including preparation of Board papers and communication with the team. Meetings alternate between being hybrid and in person and are set well in advance. Reasonable expenses are reimbursed.

So much more than simply a ‘museum,’ The Story Museum brings stories to life through interactive exhibits, talks, shows and a beautifully curated collection highlighting the history of storytelling.

Who we are looking for.

The Story Museum is seeking a Chair who can demonstrate:

  • Corporate leadership experience at a board level (private or public sector)
  • Experience of chairing Board meetings with an excellent knowledge of governance.
  • Proven ability of helping to define, support and/or drive the strategic direction.
  • A proven track record in stakeholder engagement, with a willingness to engage directly with funders, being mindful of TSM’s status as an NPO.
  • Ability to listen, to consult and ultimately to be decisive.
  • Ability to delegate effectively.
  • Experience in monitoring progress against objectives and milestones.
  • Experience of building networks and connections with a view to raising funds for charities and good causes across the not-for-profit sector.
  • An experience and understanding of charity finance with the ability to monitor and interpret financial data.
  • A passion and commitment to the values, purpose and activity of The Story Museum
  • Professional or personal experience in one or more of the following: children’s story in its widest forms, publishing, education, media, the museum sector, arts, heritage and culture
  • Being within reach of Oxford and Oxfordshire will make fulfilling the role easier.

Candidates must bring experience of operating at Board level, with previous/current chairs, vice-chairs, and committee chairs especially welcome.

A passion for the mission is vital, so experience in one or more of the following is highly desirable: children’s stories, publishing, media, the museum sector, arts, heritage, or culture.

Candidates must demonstrate a strong track record of senior strategic leadership experience and have a good understanding of governance oversight in relation to financial and senior management performance.

The Story Museum seek a strategic, collegiate and inclusive leader who can effectively manage change, challenge appropriately, advise, act strategically, and have a consultative and collaborative style.

As a proactive and vocal ambassador for the Museum, the next Chair must be comfortable articulating the vision and direction of the organisation to internal and external stakeholders alike.


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

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Rebekah Abbott

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Welcome to The Story Museum

Hello,

Thank you for your interest in becoming Chair of The Story Museum.

Our charity was founded in response to a clear need to encourage literacy, creativity and well-being among children and young people.

Our mission is to enrich lives – especially young lives – through stories, enabling them to fulfil their potential and improve life satisfaction.

We are achieving this from our most unusual Museum located in the historic centre of Oxford, a city where so many stories – real and fictional – have begun. It is also a city characterised by educational and social inequality; inequality that we know can be mitigated with access to early learning, support with literacy and ongoing creative participation – especially when shared with loved ones.

Since opening the Museum in May 2021, we have welcomed 250,000 visitors to our imaginative, immersive exhibitions and events, and engaged thousands more online and on outreach.

They explore stories in all forms drawn from across time and around the world. 98% of visitors rate their experience at the Museum as good or very good; 82% would recommend to a friend. This quality of experience has been recognised with multiple award nominations, including finalist in Museum of the Year 2022.

Alongside our paid-for public offer, we run free-to-access projects with targeted groups of children and families in community settings. These seek to address inequalities in access to books and creative experiences. The parent of a child involved in a recent project said:

Coming from a low privileges background, we have found this project very beneficial. My child has gained knowledge and confidence with her reading skills.”

One of our values is ‘Always learning & growing’ and there remains much to learn as we bed-in our new cultural enterprise whilst navigating ongoing pressure around the cost of living and the philanthropic landscape. However, we remain confident in our mission and more convinced than ever of the power of stories to enrich and educate.

This is a hugely exciting time for a new Chair to enter our story. There is a real opportunity to build on an impressive track record and explore the potential to take the Museum to new audiences and new adventures. Plus, we recognise that as a non-executive Chair taking on leadership of an arts organisation, you might want to enjoy the experience!

As a wise woman once said: “For every job that must be done there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and the job’s a game”. (Mary Poppins, P.L.Travers).

Please read the information provided and contact Peridot Partners if you have any further questions.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Caroline Jones
Museum Director & CEO

Shirin Welham Cohen
Trustee

About The Story Museum

The Story Museum is both interactive exhibit, activity centre and accredited Museum. Through dynamic storytelling, the inspirational reimagining of stories and a carefully curated collection of historical artefacts which includes the recently acquired writing desk used by CS Lewis’, The Story Museum celebrates hundreds of years of history – inspiring and delighting in equal measure, sharing great stories in great ways with its visitors.

Through its imaginative exhibitions and exciting programme of performances, events, workshops, clubs and skills-building courses, the Museum engages people of all ages in great stories.

The Museum is a place where touching exhibits, chatting excitedly to friends and being inquisitive and curious are all encouraged.

There is an energy to each of the carefully curated spaces, where activities are interactive, multi-sensory and visitor-led; designed to encourage parents, carers and children to spend time together in a compelling series of imaginary worlds.

Outreach and engagement.

As well as family visits, The Story Museum offers fun, engaging, and effective workshops for schools,  youth groups and communities too.

Their schools’ workshops are based on many years of experience engaging children in the most innovative way imaginable with learning and literacy.

There are a wealth of half and full-day workshops led by teaching professionals, who deliver curriculum-based and enriching activities that immerse participants in language, stories, and ideas.

Children are placed at the heart of everything they do, with much of their content being co-created with the young people who visit the Museum each year.

“We had an amazing time today at The Story Museum. It was incredible to see the appearance of pure joy on the children’s faces; this is a wonderful sight!”

The Story Museum creates impactful projects with community partners, using stories to bring people together, sharing experiences and nurturing curiosity. TSM works with selected schools and community partners, enabling a safe space where inquisitiveness and questions are encouraged and providing young visitors with the opportunity for discovery, collaboration and growth.

Find out what's on at The Story Museum

“Visiting The Story Museum over the weeks was a fantastic experience for the young people. Seeing them be passionate about storytelling, drama or just listening to a story being read to them was amazing, it was like they had the chance to become young children again and have fun which is something that is lacking from their lives.”

Youth Worker, Rose Hill Community Centre

Our mission

Our mission is to enrich young lives through stories, thereby enabling children and young people to fulfil their potential and improve their life chances.

We provide funded opportunities for schools in local disadvantaged communities, and free-to access creative projects with community partners; through this work, we reach children and families for whom stories can help to make positive change.

All of this activity is rooted in our 1001 Stories Collection: an intangible collection of great stories drawn together across time and place, made real through a collection of objects and brought to life in our most unusual, magical Museum.

Accessibility information

The Story Museum’s mission is to enrich lives through stories by harnessing their power to nurture literacy, well-being, and social skills, thus enabling people to fulfil their potential.

We will only truly achieve this when those lives and stories reflect the world around us; when everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, abilities, neurodivergence, gender, sexuality or other personal circumstance feels seen and heard and represented in our Museum.

Diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act. We will actively pursue inclusion for our workforce, our creative programme and our audiences (knowing that these are inextricably linked). We will know we are achieving it when our workforce, programme and audiences reflect the diversity of modern Britain.

We define inclusion as ‘a state of being and feeling valued, respected and supported’.

We hope that everyone in our workforce and audience feels this way when they are at the Museum. We also recognise that there are barriers to access and inclusion for certain groups, which are created by structures and institutions that have, whether from ignorance, apathy or outright prejudice, excluded them. We are committed to listening to and learning from people with this lived experience so that we work to overcome barriers where they exist.

Our workforce is becoming more diverse however we are not yet representative of our local community, and we are committed to changing this through open and accessible recruitment, alongside career development opportunities for young people.

We aspire to a diverse creative programme, made with and by diverse artists. As we always ‘start with the story’ it is essential that our 1001 Collection and the stories that we feature are as diverse as the world they are drawn from.

The artists we commission, programme and support, will also represent the rich diversity of the creative community; we will continue to prioritise those who are currently under-represented. We understand and value the differences in people and believe that harnessing these differences will produce the most exciting, relevant and inclusive environment where people’s creative potential can be fully realised.

With a representative workforce and a richly diverse creative programme, we believe that a wider range of people will be drawn to the Museum, feeling that it is inclusive and relevant to them. Our Creative Communities programme already prioritises children and families from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, which also have a higher than National average of students with English as an additional language  and students with special educational needs and disabilities.

We believe that everyone who works at and visits The Story Museum has a duty to uphold this commitment. We intend to model diversity and inclusion in the cultural and heritage sector.

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 interviews.
  • Working patterns and locations can be adjusted.

We are a Disability Confident Employer Level 2. We have made workplace and work pattern adjustments to suit individual needs, eg adjusted working hours and location, occupational health assessments and provision of specific desk equipment.

We are a founding member of the Oxford Cultural Anti Racism Alliance. We have amended job requirements and made extra funding available to ensure diverse appointments.

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.


For further information or to organise a conversation, please contact our advising consultants at Peridot Partners:

Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

Jonah Graham jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

    To access a full job description and application details,
    please fill out the form below.

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    Thank you for your interest in this role. Please download the Role Description and Person Specification.

    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 inserting “Application: The Story Museum – Chair of the Board of Trustees” into the subject field. You will receive an acknowledgement on receipt of your application within 2-3 days. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please make contact with our admin team.

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

    Rebekah Abbott | rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 270749

    Jonah Graham jonah@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07538 756654

    As a sector-leading executive search consultancy, we know the importance of creating recruitment processes which are fair, inclusive and free from bias. We are committed to promoting equality and diversity and developing a process that values differences.

    If you have a disability that meets the definition set out in the Equality Act 2010, and you can show that you meet the ‘essential’ criteria described in the person specification, please let us know.

    If you experience any technical or accessibility difficulties, need help making an application, or have any additional support that needs to be considered as part of the interview and selection process, please let us know.

    Recruitment selection processes are based on evidence of competence stated in the person specification and in relation to our values.

    Timetable

    Closing date: 9 a.m. Tuesday 11th June
    Candidates informed of outcome: By 5 p.m. Monday 17th June
    First stage interviews: Thursday 20th and Friday 21st June (virtual)
    Candidates informed of outcome: Monday 24th June
    Final stage interviews: Monday 1st July (in person)


    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and The Story 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 will send you an equality monitoring survey at the point of receiving your application, in the interview phase and at the time of placement. This ensures that our processes remain inclusive and equitable throughout, and provides us with important data to help us showcase our impact. The information will be treated confidentially and anonymously and will help us to support our commitment to fair recruitment practices. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.


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