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Board of Trustees Recruitment Pack

Note from the Chair of Trustees

Thank you very much for showing an interest in becoming a Trustee at People’s History Museum (PHM), the national museum of democracy and the home of ideas worth fighting for.  It is an exciting time to join us when the story of our democracy and our struggle for rights becomes more relevant by the day.

We tell the story of extraordinary, ordinary people who, through their collective campaigning and fights for justice, helped shape and create a better world for all of us.  We have the largest trade union banner collection in the world; and our collection includes everything from the table on which Thomas Paine wrote ‘The Rights of Man’, to a cane held by a demonstrator at Peterloo; from the historic Manchester suffragette banner to recent banners and campaign literature on climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, the Grunwick strikes; we hold the archives of the Labour Party, from the very first meeting held by Keir Hardie to the latest minutes of NEC meetings held by Sir Keir Starmer.

It’s a real privilege to be the custodians, interpreters and storytellers of people who fought for the rights we enjoy now and who worked for the greater good.

As we recover from the pandemic, we are living in a different world than before, shaped by growing inequality, environmental crisis, war, and increased migration.  We want to play our part in energising and supporting people to understand, engage with, and respond to these issues.  Museums are increasingly adopting a more civic role, and audiences and visitors are expecting something different from us and from the sector.  We need to be able to respond to this, which might involve being bolder and braver about what we do in the future. We are proud to be a campaigning, activist museum, speaking out and standing up for principles in the way that our collection demands and inspires us to do.  Our role in this work led us to being shortlisted for the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year in 2022.

We are realistic about the economic climate in which we operate and the pressures on public funding. We’ve  been reflecting on how museums like ours can adapt, grow and better meet the needs of our communities, and  ensure that how we work and operate is financially sustainable, including through generating more income from our cafe, retail, events and venue hire, as well as fundraising.  The role of the Board of Trustees will be crucial in this.

PHM is based in Manchester, a dynamic and growing city and one that is being transformed by ideas and investment, including in the cultural sector.  PHM can capitalise on this by continuing to connect and collaborate with our visitors, community partners, and other stakeholders and to develop new relationships with businesses, growing our reputation locally, nationally, and internationally.

We are looking for Trustees who will make us think about what we do in a fresh and different light; challenge us to be better and share their expertise and insights with us; supporting and working alongside our team of brilliant staff to create a business model that enables PHM to thrive; and using our collections and spaces to deliver exciting programmes which will engage a growing and more diverse audience.

I’ve been Chair of Trustees since November 2021 and have been a trustee since 2018.  I love this place and I love what it stands for.  What we do in the community, online and in partnership with others is every bit as important to us as what we hold in our collections.

PHM is committed to being a place that is respectful and inclusive and delivers equal experience for everyone.

I welcome you to help us to build on our existing excellent work, be more ambitious, and continue to push the boundaries.

 

Bernard Donoghue
Chair of Trustees

About People’s History Museum

People’s History Museum (PHM) is the national museum of democracy, telling the story of its development in Britain: past, present, and future.  The museum provides opportunities for all people to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for; ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all.

PHM currently welcomes a local, national, and international audience, attracting 125,000 visitors annually, as well as reaching people online through digital activities. The museum involves audiences and communities in all aspects of its work, using models of co-curation, collaboration and crowdsourcing when developing and delivering programmes of activity.  Engaging people directly in the work of the museum helps to build a passionate and committed audience who become supporters and advocates for PHM, while ensuring we are shaping authentic content representative of diverse audiences, providing an inclusive space for their voices, stories, and ideas.

PHM has an annual turnover of around £1.5 million, employs over 30 members of staff and has a team of freelance staff and volunteers.  PHM is funded by Arts Council England (ACE) as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) and by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Culture and Social Impact Fund.  PHM is an independent museum, charitable trust and company limited by guarantee, with a Board of Trustees, a Trading Company Board, and an Audit and Risk Committee.

Our vision is for a fairer society where people’s actions can make a difference.

Our mission is to encourage everyone to care more about community and society, and to use their voice to take a stand on issues that matter to them.

Our purpose is to help people to discover that they have the power to make change.

 

Our four organisational aims are:

Audiences We will use data to inform our understanding of audiences and create an offer that attracts more diverse people, striving to meet and exceed visitors’ expectations.

Engagement – We will ensure our collections and spaces continue to be a source of inspiration for learning and enjoyment, working with people with lived experiences, providing platforms and spaces for authentic voices to be heard.

ProfileWe will use our assets to contribute to a fairer society, continuing to be recognised as a place locally, regionally, and nationally that tells the stories of people fighting for equality.

Resilience We will invest in people through a fair and supportive working culture, taking a creative approach to managing change and uncertainty to ensure we protect our organisation for the future.

The Board of Trustees plays a crucial role in ensuring we demonstrate and deliver on these commitments.

 

The role

The role of the Trustees is to assist the Chair in meeting the Board’s overall responsibilities in accordance with the Charity Commission for England and Wales and Companies House guidance, as well as the funding requirements of both ACE and GMCA.

Trustees offer guidance and expertise on PHM’s current Business Plan and its practical and pragmatic implementation.  The Trustees also play a key role in the organisation’s change programme, which aims to have a positive benefit for everyone that engages with the museum.  These benefits include:

  • Improvements to how we deliver to our visitors and stakeholders, ensuring that we continue to consider everyone’s needs at the start of our decision making, using an empathic and inquisitive approach to deliver experiences that will engage more people.
  • Improvements to how we operate as an employer, ensuring that staff all have a sense of purpose in their role, are developing their skills and knowledge and the work is achievable and rewarding.
  • Improvements to how we operate as a business, ensuring that we can manage risks, change for the better, develop financial resilience, and have the right people and systems in place to seize opportunities for new investment.

In addition to the main Board of Trustees, there is a separate Trading Board for PHM’s subsidiary Trading Company, and an Audit and Risk Committee.

Trading Company

PHM’s Trading Company is a wholly owned subsidiary, governed by a Board of Directors, which gifts its profits back to the charity.  The Board of Directors provides governance over the commercial activity that supports the museum’s charitable aims and financial sustainability.  The Board of Directors provides scrutiny and oversight of commercial strategy, considers new business and opportunities, and considers how the Trading Company can support and inform the strategy set by the Board of Trustees.

Audit and Risk

A key sub-committee of the main Board of Trustees, which provides enhanced assurance and rigorous oversight of the museum’s financial performance and overall risk management.

Time commitment

Members are required to attend the four Board meetings each year.  It is expected that Board members attend in person twice yearly at meetings at People’s History Museum and twice yearly at an alternative location.  Members are required to contribute a total time commitment of up to ten days per year. Members may be asked to join or lead a subgroup and lead work individually on issues where they have expertise.

To be effective, Trustees need to commit the necessary time to read and respond to relevant papers in advance of meetings.  In addition, they may be asked to take on specific tasks and activities or undertake training, either to align with PHM’s organisational priorities or to develop relevant skills and knowledge required to fulfil the role.

Person specification

We need a Board of Trustees with varied and diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets, who are committed to ensuring that the organisation can deliver on its vision, mission and aims.  We are looking to recruit several new members to our Board of Trustees with a broad spectrum of skills and experience, and as such, are looking for Trustees to support the general work of the museum, alongside Trustees with particular skills to support specific areas of the museum’s work.

Applications are welcome from everyone who matches the essential requirements.  We particularly welcome applications from people with lived experience that is reflective of our diverse audience, collection and programme of activity, including disabled people, people from a global majority background, and young people under the age of 25.

Essential

  • Knowledge/understanding of PHM and its work and ability to demonstrate or empathise with its mission and values.
  • Ability to think strategically and/or creatively to help drive innovation and change.
  • Knowledge of museums and/or cultural venues the context in which they operate, and the challenges they are currently facing.
  • Good knowledge of networks in Manchester/North West England.
  • An understanding of both the role cultural venues can play and the potential opportunities for delivering economic growth to the region.
  • Demonstrable commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • An understanding of the purpose and role of a Board of Trustees and an ability to work constructively with fellow Board members and wider stakeholders.
  • Ability to act as visible ambassador and advocate for PHM, including confidence in supporting fundraising events and engaging with major partners, donors, and supporters.

 

In addition, we welcome applications that can demonstrate skills and experience in the following areas:

Desired

Commercial

We are keen to increase the number of Directors on our Trading Company Board and would be particularly keen to hear from individuals who are active members of Greater Manchester’s business community.  Such individuals may be able to provide advocacy and build profile for the museum in business circles within the region, with a view to increasing membership of the Radical Circle and publicising PHM’s venue hire offering.  The Board is particularly seeking expertise linked to event and venue sales and commercial marketing.

Social justice

We would welcome applications from individuals with experience of working in fields related to social justice initiatives, or direct campaigning.  This includes individuals with experience of grassroots activism, who can provide insight at Board level into such authentic experiences, and better engage us with those whose voices and issues speak to our values and mission as an organisation.

Arts and culture 

We would be interested to hear from individuals with experience in leading or working with major arts and cultural organisations, particularly major capital programmes.  As we move towards a redevelopment of PHM’s main galleries, several critical infrastructure elements are reaching the end of their useful economic lives, and we are seeking to reconfigure the museum’s spaces to equip us to meet income and operational challenges now and in the future.

Terms of appointment

Terms of appointment are based on three year terms, up to a maximum of three terms (nine years in total).

Location of meetings

Two meetings per year are held at PHM in Manchester and two meetings per year are held in London at a central venue.  The museum has an annual general meeting (AGM) alongside an ordinary Board meeting each year.

Reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

Application

If you would like to apply, please return the following information by email to Charlie Corkin, Executive Support Officer: charlie.corkin@phm.org.uk.

  • CV
  • Supporting statement of not more than two sides of A4, setting out how you meet the person specification for the area you are interested in.

 

Each application will be assessed against the criteria outlined in this document.

There is no fixed deadline for applications, we will review applications as they are received and aim to respond to potential candidates within 4 weeks of receipt of your application. Interviews will be held in person as practically possible.

If you would like to have a conversation about the role with one of our Senior Leadership Team or one of our Trustees, please contact Charlie Corkin, Executive Support Officer: charlie.corkin@phm.org.uk to arrange this.

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