Perspectives : Personal Passions & Opinions
New projects, work in progress or recently completed and just a few things which make me think or feel inspired….
Firestation Arts and Culture
Firestation Arts and Culture is a progressive community interest company based in Windsor. Iridescence was appointed in June 2012 to help the company fine-tune its current arts venue operation and improve profitability in preparation for growth. Firestation seeks to be ‘a champion of creativity… exciting and inspiring, challenging and inclusive and reaching much further than its four walls.’
I am now working with the team to evaluate new business ideas and help build the strategies to put the best ideas into practice.
Marketing Consultancy For OXPIP
OXPIP is an Oxford-based charity promoting secure attachment between parents and their babies under two to prevent or lessen psychological problems in later life. Earlier this year they asked me to join their Board of Directors to bring some marketing skills to the team. Keen to support a local charity and learn more about the Early Years sector, I came on board as a voluntary consultant for a few months to help OXPIP develop a marketing strategy linked to their plans for national expansion.
St Margaret’s Art Centre, Braemar
Iridescence has just completed a feasibility study to assess the viability of £2m+ conversion of an A-listed church in Braemar into an arts centre. Working in partnership with Tourism UK, we came up with a viable model for the centre based on local and national partnership-working and maximising commercial income. Providing crystal clear evidence of demand and a practical strategy for delivery was central to the value of our consultancy.
"We gave Iridescence a very demanding task with a tight deadline and they came up trumps! They were a real pleasure to work with. They understood their remit exactly and produced a well researched report with very clear and very helpful recommendations which we are now implementing". Brian Wood, St Margaret’s Project Client Team.
Monifieth Community Centre
Iridescence was brought in by Aim Architects in Dundee earlier this year to provide business strategy input to a feasibility study and options appraisal for a £2m community centre. We worked together to establish exactly what the community wanted before developed an outline business case, preferred location for the centre and design scheme. This work will be developed further to support a £1m Big Lottery capital funding application.
"Aim has worked with Finella on an extensive variety of projects. Finella’s collaborative approach and sincere manner has provided our clients with valuable guidance and support towards the successful delivery of many community based initiatives. Her extensive business experience in running visitor facilities has provided greater insight and an in depth knowledge that moves beyond the standard desk-top exercises of her counterparts. Overall her extremely warm approach and enthusiasm for each challenge has delivered recognised value and refinement to each project. We look forward to our next collaboration and our further success together." Ged Young, Managing Partner of Aim.
Brilliant Fusion of Creativity and Commerce at TATE Modern
A while back I met with the Retail Manager at the TATE Modern in London to pick up a few of the secrets of their success in arts centre retailing. What did I discover? Lots of fantastic 'best practice', including staff with excellent retail sales skills and a really creative purchasing and merchandising philosophy. Wolf Ollins, one of the country's leading brand consultancies, was appointed to develop seasonal colour palettes for the theming and display of goods and creative partnerships with great British designers such as Paul Smith have resulted in limited edition ranges of Tate Modern branded products. This creative and energetic attitude towards 'trading' generates vital funds for the TATE.
Frank Ella Arts and Heritage Group
The Frank Ella Arts and Heritage Centre Group have just appointed Tourism UK and Iridescence to develop a Feasibility Study related to the purchase and refurbishment of Whitgift Chapel in Yorkshire. This study forms part of a proposed project to create a bespoke Arts and Heritage Centre for the area. It will involve a programme of community consultation to assess demand, working with our assocaite architect to develop and cost an outline design scheme and developing a business model for the centre.
The Barns-Graham Trust
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004) was one of the foremost painters working in St Ives after moving there in 1940. Her paintings, alongside those of her contemporaries (including Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo) that comprise the St Ives school, contributed greatly to the development of Modernist British painting in the mid to late twentieth century. Since 1960 she divided her time between her homes in St Ives and St Andrews, affirming herself as much a Scottish as Cornish artist. The Barns-Graham Charitable Trust was established by Wilhelmina in 1987, and came into effect following her death in January 2004. It was created to secure her life’s work and archive for future generations.
The Barns Graham Charitable Trust appointed Iridescence to provide a strategic overview of the trust and its activities, to evaluate whether or not it was meeting its objectives and to determine a secure financial strategy for the organisation's future.
Following our work, Geoffrey Bertram, Chairman of the Trust commented: "Iridescence provided a detailed critical assessment and suggested a range of options which could help the trust improve levels of funding. Their review has helped the trustees determine what is, and what is not, worthwhile to pursue, and where the trust could be doing things better. Overall, their insights have been very important in saving the trust time and money, and are the foundation on which future decisions are being made".
Chester House Farm
This Scheduled Ancient Monument contains the only undeveloped site of a Roman civilian settlement in the county. The site includes a walled Roman town, ancient field systems, deserted medieval village, 17th century farm-house (now badly damaged by fire) with later farm ranges, an orchard and former kitchen garden, and areas of former ironstone extraction.
The county council owns the site and has ambitious plans to develop it to secure its long-term preservation but especially to open it up to public use for education, learning and enjoyment. Iridescence has recently been asked to assist Tourism UK in developing a marketing strategy to support a Stage 2 HLF funding application for the project.
Chetham's School of Music
Chetham's is home to the largest specialist music school in the UK and the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. Both are housed within a medieval complex of buildings dating back to 1421. A new £31m state of the art music school was opened on an adjacent site in 2012. The aspiration is now to repair and restore the medieval buildings and neighbouring Vallin’s Building and open these to the public as a visitor attraction in 2015.
As an associate of L&R Consulting, I was invited to support L&R in conducting a commercial feasibility study in relation to the proposed attraction. The aim of the project was to identify those commercial activities with the greatest potential to generate profitable revenue whilst enhancing the visitor experience.
St Margaret's Art Centre
Following on from our feasibility work last year, Simpson and Brown architects have been commisssioned to undertake an architectural options appraisal to explore how this A-listed church building might be converted into a performing arts centre. Iridescence has been engaged to update the business model and further develop the concept of 'Creative Braemar'. The vision is for St Margaret's to provide a focal point for arts activity in the area and ultimately, along with other community initiatives, act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Braemar.
Errol White Company
Iridescence has teamed up with leading cultural consultants Stephen Browning Associates to support Errol White Company, an Edinburgh-based contemporary dance ensemble, in developing growth plans for the company. Errol White Company has an excellent reputation for dance works of high quality which explore how the vocabulary of the body can be used as an abstract language. The project is being funded through Creative Scotland's Sustainable Development Programme.
The Patrick Geddes Learning and Conservation Centre
The Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning and Conservation is a £5.8 million capital project to transform a 16th Century former merchant’s house known as Riddle’s Court in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh into a world class centre for learning and conservation within the Old Town of Edinburgh drawing on the architectural, historic and cultural significance of the building over its 400 year history. Iridescence and Tourism UK have just been appointed by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust to develop the business plan to support a second stage HLF application for £2.4m.
Hounslow High Street
The London Borough of Hounslow is currently undertaking a major regeneration project to revitalise the High Street environment. Their investment will change the ‘look and feel’ of the pedestrianised zone, provide a new shop front grant scheme for businesses in that area, two outdoor event spaces and a new world market area. As part of this, Iridescence and Tourism UK have been selected to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a new cafe and performance space within West Square, a key component in boosting the evening economy for the area.
The ARTches Project
Over the last month Iridescence has been assisting Stephen Browning Associates develop a business plan for 'The ARTches' to accompany capital fundraising.
Portsmouth City Council's ARTches project will transform 'Point Battery', a historic Portsmouth fortification (much of which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the remainder Grade 1 listed), into a vibrant creative hub and cultural quarter. The site houses a number of 'vacant' brick arches which will be sensitively converted into creative studios. The focus will be on providing incubation space and professional development support for creative start-ups as well as the opportunity to show-case work to the public. The ARTches will also present the story of Portsmouth's Round Tower and Point Battery to those visiting the area, highlighting the site's crucial role in defending the naval port.
We have just completed a business plan for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2nd Generation (SV2G), an organisation which promotes awareness of the African and Caribbean heritage of St Vincent and the Grenadines within the communities in and around High Wycombe. Working in schools, youth groups and community organisations, SV2G runs a renowned School of Steelpan music (offering the UK's only accredited steelpan training in association with the University of the West Indies), the Wycombe Steel Orchestra, Wycombe Community Festival and numerous innovative combined arts projects. SV2G also chairs Carnival Network South.
The business plan accompanied a proposal to Wycombe District Council to relocate the SV2G base, manage a new community centre building and enhance the company's income generation potential.
Hammersmith Arts and Crafts
This month we're delighted to start work with the William Morris Society and The Emery Walker Trust. As the appointed business planning consultants, Iridescence and Tourism UK will support a capital funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fun for 'Arts and Crafts Hammersmith: developing the legacy of William Morris and Emery Walker'. This visionary project will bring the lives and influences of Morris and Walker, their friendship, collaboration and joint endeavours in the areas of the Arts and Crafts movement to a wider audience.
The Tron Kirk
Iridescence and Tourism UK are supporting PLB Consulting (heritage interpretation specialists) to provide a business plan for the (circa £6m) redevelopment of The Tron Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Edinburgh World Heritage wish to create a world class visitor attraction to interpret the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and promote other World Heritage Sites in Scotland. Our work will explore how the spaces within this iconic building might be used and generate sustainable revenues for the company. In doing so we will consider innovative partnerships with public and private sector partners and also investigate sources of capital funding.
Oxford Town Hall
Oxford City Council appointed us to develop proposals for underused and redundant spaces in Oxford Town Hall, a magnificent grade 2* Victorian building. Our work will explore a range of revenue-generating ideas for numerous spaces ranging from extensive cellars to the historic Jury, Judges and Court Rooms and also cafe, gallery and retail spaces. Our recommendations will factor in plans for a major redevelopment of the Museum of Oxford which occupies part of the site.
Buxton Crescent and Spa
Iridescence supported PLB and Tourism UK in developing a business case to support a stage 2 HLF application for Buxton Spa and Crescent as part of a £46m project to conserve Buxton’s iconic Grade I listed Georgian Crescent. The project has recently been awarded £11.3 million from the Lottery. Our work focused on the creation of a heritage experience (supported by a retail and catering offer) within the wider development which includes a luxury hotel and spa.
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle houses antiquities associated with Hadrian's Wall and the two roman forts established in Carlisle, as well as a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Border Reivers. It also has large and eclectic collections of zoological, botanical and geological material, as well as fine and decorative arts collections including paintings by Stanley Spencer and Winifred Nicolson.
Working with Tourism UK, our job was to assist Tullie House in developing the business case supporting a £12m funding application for a major upgrading of the venue to include new interpretation and display of the collections using the latest digital technology, increased gallery space and transformed learning, education and visitor facilities.
SeaChange Arts is an independent arts development charity based in Great Yarmouth but collaborating internationally. The company is now a recognised leader in the fields of Circus and Street Arts and is dedicated to delivering outstanding creative projects of many kinds. Following the company's recognition as one the Arts Council England's National Portfolio Organisations ('representing some of the best arts practice in the world') and linked to its plans for expansion, Iridescence has been appointed to help SeaChange Arts evaluate ideas for new entrepreneurial activity.
Ailsa Horizons is the rural regeneration company for South Ayrshire which runs a range of projects and offer services to community groups, social enterprises, and public and private sector organisations. Iridescence and Tourism UK have being supporting the agency in their plans to convert a former listed Davidson cottage hospital building into a Creative Industries incubator for the area. The building will provide a number of offices and workspaces to let as well as a range of support services including training to develop business skills, help with raising finance, access to a business angel network, etc.
Pewsey Heritage Centre
Pewsey Heritage Centre is a small rural museum in Gloucestershire run entirely by volunteers. Its collection includes around 8,500 objects of mainly local significance, including industrial, agricultural and domestic machinery and photographs reflecting life over the past 150 years in the Pewsey Vale. Iridescence, working in partnership with Tourism UK, was commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council, on behalf of the West of England Museums Economic Sustainability Project, to assist the Heritage Centre review its business model and identify opportunities for cost savings and increased income.
This month we have been working on an economic sustainability plan for Radstock Museum, commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council. Situated at the heart of the former Somerset Coalfield and housed within the Old Market Hall in Radstock, the museum displays a collection of artefacts and memorabilia from the era of Victorian mining in Somerset. Our recommendations include accessing additional funding to expand the events programme and attract younger audiences, as well as strengthening local awareness of the museum.
Dean Heritage Centre
We have just completed a business development study for Dean Heritage Centre as part of a wider 'Museums Economic Sustainability Project' commissioned by Gloucestershire County Council. Set across a beautiful five acre site, the centre interprets the history and heritage of the Forest of Dean. The experience includes galleries exploring the history of the Forest from the Ice Age to the present day, a reconstructed Victorian cottage, a charcoal burner's camp, an adventure playground, adventure trails, a gift shop and cafe and family events programme. Our work focused on reviewing and strengthening the competitive positioning of the attraction.
London Contemporary Dance School
London Contemporary Dance School, a leading member of the prestigious UK Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, appointed Iridescence to undertake a strategic modelling exercise to establish the optimum business development route for the school. Clear navigation through complex data and excellent collaboration with the team was central to the consultancy and to achieving the strategic clarity required by the management team and board.
Cornerstone Arts Centre
We have just been appointed by Cornerstone (Didcot) to assist the team with a business review and income generation exercise for this excellent multi-disciplinary art centre. Our work will explore every facet of the organisation's operation, from programming of performances, exhibitions, workshops and classes to reviewing the cafe operation, marketing approach and use of space.
Arundel Museum is an accredited museum in the historic town of Arundel in West Sussex which tells the story of the town from Roman times to the 20th century. Iridescence was commissioned to review the museum business and provide recommendations for future growth. The report included consultation with the museum team and key partners, an appraisal of income generation options and a 5-year financial forecasting model to be flexed in tandem with the ongoing development of the business plan. A few months later, we were asked to return to assist the team in implementing the plan.
Oxford House (OH) is a community and arts centre in the heart of London’s East End. OH was originally established in 1884 by Keble College and the University of Oxford to provide a centre of religious, social and educational work among the poor of East London. Iridescence is working with Tourism UK to develop a business plan supporting a round 2 Heritage Lottery Fund application connected to a major rennovation of the venue. Plans include conservation of the historic chapel and associated rooms to provide learning / event facilities and the creation of a new entrance / cafe.
Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park is the collective name for areas of countryside set aside for conservation and recreation on the South Clyde estuary in Scotland. Iridescence has been asked to assist Tourism UK in reviewing the operation of the park and identifying the most efficient governance and management structure to deliver its aims. A key objective of the study was to identify ways in which the overall cost of the Park could be reduced whilst continuing to develop its vibrant outdoor offer (watersports, pathways for cycling, trekking and walking etc) and indoor visitor centres at key gateway points.
White and Givan
This month Iridescence returned to support elite contemporary dancers Errol White and Davina Givan, the co-Directors of Edinburgh-based contemporary dance company 'White and Givan'. We ran a workshop to revisit the business model we had helped the company develop a few years ago, focusing on a refreshed creative vision for W&G involving an exciting residency with Edinburgh University and new international partnerships.