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Chief Operating Officer Lakeland Arts

Be a key player in promoting an entrepreneurial spirit at Lakeland Arts, seizing the opportunity to enhance commercial activity and develop new sources of income.

  • Location: Hybrid working, to include all Lakeland Arts sites in Bowness and Kendal, Cumbria
  • Salary: £60,000 - £65,000
  • Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 4th March

Who we are

Lakeland Arts is one of the most remarkable arts and heritage organisations in the north. We look after an exceptional portfolio of museums and collections in an area of outstanding natural beauty, which has inspired generations, from Wordsworth via Kurt Schwitters to Taylor Swift. This cultural and natural heritage attracts audiences from all over the world.

The staff at Lakeland Arts come from all walks of life, backgrounds and interests but have one thing in common – connecting people with outstanding art and heritage in a world-class cultural landscape.

In your new role, you will work in some of the most beautiful buildings and locations in Cumbria and you can expect to feel a real sense of pride in the job you do, every single day.

Lakeland Arts will enable you to learn, discover and develop your career. You will be joining a supportive team who will help you achieve your goals. Lakeland Arts are proud of who and where they are, and they work in a way that acknowledges their continued success is dependent on the contribution and expertise of every individual member of the team.

Lakeland Arts employs around 80 members of staff and 100 volunteers. Their team includes experts in the fields of art, conservation, collections and exhibitions, finance, communications and project management. Split over four award-winning attractions, the organisation is the beacon of excellence in arts in the north of England.

About the role

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Lakeland Arts will lead on the commercial activity and income, including developing potential new sources of income. The postholder will have an entrepreneurial mindset and experience in successfully developing profitable income streams, by maximising on and offsite mission-linked business opportunities, as well as driving visitor spend.

The COO will be responsible for leading continuous improvement initiatives across the organisation to enhance business performance and drive operational and business strategy, and the day-to-day operations across all Lakeland Arts sites.

The role of the COO will be both strategic and hands-on, managing the team, and working collaboratively with the programming colleagues to identify and support earned income potential.  A member of the leadership team, the COO will play a key role in the strategic development of Lakeland Arts and will act as Deputy to the Chief Executive. The COO will attend Board meetings and other Trustees committees.

The COO will lead business planning and support the CEO by translating the vision, goals and strategy for the organisation into operational and business plans. They will demonstrate strong financial leadership, managing capital expenditure, planning and overseeing the work of the Finance Director and Manager, and managing all aspects of operational and commercial risk.

The Chief Operating Officer will oversee commercial and operational strategy and delivery of successful commercial income generation and activity, planning and developing commercial opportunities and projects for the organisation. The COO will maintain local connections to ensure they are abreast of local business intelligence which will, in turn, inform organisational decision-making. They will work with the leadership team and colleagues across the organisation to improve performance, standards and products whilst driving efficiency.

Windermere Jetty

With overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations across all Lakeland Arts sites, the COO will manage the Head of Visitor Experience and Estates Manager and provide operational direction, guidance and support for the whole organisation, including on making the Museum more environmentally sustainable.

They will have oversight of IT systems, including the development of visitor information systems such as EPOS, ticketing and retail systems as well as marketing and fundraising tools such as CRM, and advise the CEO and Trustees on growth of the Museum’s digital and systems capabilities. Supportive of the strategic development of Lakeland Arts and the delivery of the business plan, they will contribute to the overall success of the organisation, representing Lakeland Arts to its various audiences and focusing on the delivery of a high-quality visitor experience.

Who we are looking for

Lakeland Arts is looking for someone with experience of driving successful commercial strategies, with relevant experience of managing operations at a visitor attraction/ arts venue or equivalent organisation. With significant experience of leading and managing teams, they will have strong experience developing and delivering organisational strategies and business plans, as well as experience in financial management, control planning and operational budgeting, with a proven track record of developing income from trading activity.

With an active interest in arts, galleries and museums, the next COO will have exceptional communication and negotiating skills, demonstrate good business judgement and have the ability to implement changes, influence and engage stakeholders, develop and cultivate excellent working relationships and evaluate and review business effectiveness and implement actions to address.

The next COO of Lakeland Arts will exhibit excellent people skills, with an ability to build good relationships and work in a supportive manner alongside colleagues, volunteers and stakeholders. Strong communication skills, a warm leadership style and the ability to influence wider stakeholders are all essential. They will demonstrate a commitment to Equal Opportunities, EDI and a dedication to exceptional customer service. The next COO will display self-motivational qualities and the ability and willingness to work as part of a close-knit and cohesive team.

With an entrepreneurial approach and a keen eye for business opportunities, the next COO will ensure the visitor experience team and volunteers can work collaboratively with colleagues across Lakeland Arts to maximise resources and income-generating opportunities.

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

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

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

If you would like to know more about this role please contact Alison Maxwell

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Welcome from the Chief Executive

Dear candidate,

We’re delighted you’re interested in joining the team at Lakeland Arts as our Chief Operating Officer.

You’ll be joining us at a pivotal time for the organisation as we focus in on our mission, build our long-term sustainable business plan and create cohesion across Lakeland Arts brand and individual museums. This role will be crucial in tying together key areas of our business: the commercial business that supports our charitable purpose, the extensive work that keeps our buildings and spaces fit for public use and the operations and systems that ensure visitors are receiving a valuable and connected experience.

In 2024 we’ll celebrate the 5th birthday of our spectacular new museum, Windermere Jetty Museum. Having completed 10 years of conservation, we will greatly increase the amount of people we can connect with the lake this year. We have a full programme of events, displays, family activities and festivals across the year. The museum’s Lakeshore café is a favourite for tourists and locals alike.

We will continue to balance traditional arts and crafts with contemporary craft this year at Blackwell, welcoming a major exhibition by William De Morgan in March. Blackwell’s tearoom and terrace, contemporary craft shop and annual craft fairs continue to prove popular with the local community and our members.

At Abbot Hall we will complete our first year being reopened after refurbishment, displaying more of our nationally significant collection than members and visitors have been able to access for years. Our focus will be working with the community to make Abbot Hall a welcoming and responsive place for art.

And at Lakeland Museum we will continue to look at funding opportunities and research the vision for this wonderful community resource.

We welcome your candidacy and wish you the best of luck in your application.

All bests,

Rhian Harris
Chief Executive

About Lakeland Arts

Lakeland Arts is a major player in the north of England’s arts, culture and heritage scene. They have built a great reputation for their historic buildings, museums, collections, exhibitions, heritage craft, skills and learning and community programmes. The Lake District is a place of daily inspiration and Lakeland Arts reflects this far and wide, as well as working tirelessly to protect and project the area’s distinctive cultural legacy. Their rich collections and shared experiences help them keep the stories of this amazing region alive and seed the artists and makers of tomorrow.

Lakeland Arts represents the lives of the people of Cumbria past and present. They inform and steer their stimulating, award-winning attractions:

Lakeland Arts enriches people’s lives, celebrates the environment and builds stronger communities through creative inspiration from the magnificent landscapes and cultural heritage in surrounding Lakeland, and exploring the deep and fundamental connections between people, land and identity.

Abbot Hall is located in a Grade I listed Georgian building on the banks of the River Kent and has an exceptional collection of historic and contemporary art. Recently reopened, it has shown a major exhibition by internationally renowned British artist Julie Brook of film, sound, drawing and photography, offering a rare insight into an extensive body of work made in remote locations in Scotland, Japan and Cumbria.2024 will bring more Collection Displays and exhibitions by Claude Cahun, Gilbert Spencer and Charmaine Watkiss.

Blackwell is a rare architectural gem, offering a perfectly preserved snapshot of early 20th-century living. Designed by noted architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, this Grade I listed building is one of the UK’s finest examples of arts and crafts architecture and is a practice that is inspired by the natural world, while embracing traditional craft skills in an age of increasing mechanisation and mass production. Almost all of Blackwell’s original features survive, along with immaculate furniture and beautiful decorative flourishes. With a peaceful, tranquil setting and tremendous views over Windermere and the Coniston Fells, the house never fails to inspire. Sublime Symmetry, an exhibition of stunning De Morgan ceramics opens in March 2024.

Lakeland Museum houses a rich collection of the Lake District’s social history, brought to life through a wonderful mix of curiosities, period rooms and exhibitions.  A treasure trove of discovery, Lakeland Museum reveals how people lived in the Lake District over the past centuries and how our unique local landscape shaped their lives. Lakeland Museum is currently closed for redevelopment.

Windermere Jetty Museum is a spectacular award-winning museum and visitor centre. It is a vibrant, family-friendly place, dedicated to sharing stories about boats and steam, and the people and rich history of Windermere, England’s largest natural lake. The museum itself reflects boat-making, innovation, industry and engineering in one of England’s most famously beautiful locations, the Lake District National Park. Windermere Jetty Museum will welcome Microworld, a digital art play space for all ages in February 2024.

Inclusivity and De-Colonialisation

Lakeland Arts aims to enrich communities and inspire individuals through stories of the people, landscape and ecology of Cumbria. This can only be done by being fully inclusive and reflecting all individuals in society. As an arts and heritage organisation, it is Lakeland Arts’ responsibility and privilege to reflect on history and work with communities to shine a light on the whole picture, tell untold stories, champion those who have not had a voice and create a future of inclusivity.

This important work will be ongoing, and it will take the efforts of the whole Lakeland Arts team for many years to come, led by the leadership team. This includes reviewing the organisation’s values, team training with experts including AntiRacist Cumbria, developing partnerships to make our museums’ allied spaces and decolonising our collections using the Museum Association’s Decolonising Principles.

Lakeland Arts is committed to ensuring their museums and galleries provide a welcoming space for members of all communities to engage with the collections they look after.

Learn more about Lakeland Arts

Accessibility information

Lakeland Arts will seek to ensure that all staff and volunteers have equal access to the full range of workplace facilities and that adjustments to working practices are considered wherever reasonably possible to accommodate a more diverse community. We offer the following amenities:

  • Step-free access to the building, all key meeting rooms and bathrooms, and an accessible workstation.
  • Accessibility dogs are welcome.
  • 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.

The first point applies to Windermere Jetty Museum only, Abbot Hall and Blackwell both grade 1 listed properties have some areas that are not accessible due to the historic nature of the buildings.

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

Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

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

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

    Alison Maxwell | alison@peridotpartners.co.uk | 07498 071852

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

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    Closing date: 9 a.m. Monday 4th March 2024
    Candidates informed of outcome: Tuesday 12th March 2024
    First-stage interviews (virtual): Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th March 2024
    Final stage interviews and informal staff meets (in person): Wednesday 27th March 2024

    Equal Opportunities Monitoring

    Peridot and Lakeland Arts  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 practice. All information provided will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared with anyone, in line with the new Data Protection Act 2018 launched on 25 May 2018. The information provided does not form part of the decision-making process and will not affect your application.

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