MCG Chair’s report 2016
The process of posting reports for the Annual General Meeting, begun in 2012 as part of our drive for greater transparency and accountability to our members, has been consolidated this year – thanks to everyone who prepared their reports in advance.
I’m encouraged to see that the tone of list discussion continues to be more constructive, and that rare instance of less constructive criticism are corrected by fellow posters. The discussion list is a truly valuable resource for the digital museum and heritage sector.
The MCG website is now archived by the UK Web Archive. We held a website ‘working bee’ in January 2016 to help refresh older content, add images and streamline the information architecture; there is still lots to do on content and design.
We’re successfully building a repository of images from events to use in marketing and communications, in part through bursary posts for bloggers, photographers, etc. These bursary posts have also helped us reach new audiences while providing opportunities for emerging professionals. We had 24 applicants for bursary/paid volunteer posts for this conference, which is hopefully a sign that they are valued by recipients.
We updated the conference proposal form to ask questions that would help us promote specific speakers and papers as part of our event marketing plan. More activity around events planning and tasks earlier have helped ensure success of this event. Documenting event goals, timelines and the reasons for the practices we’ve developed over the past years should help with sharing the workload for events while maintaining a consistent level of quality.
Earlier this year I proposed changing the brand of our annual UK-focused Museums on the Web (UKMW) conference to reflect the shift in focus to an event that encompassed any public-facing technology in museums. Calling the conference ‘Museums+Tech’ should be more flexible while ensuring consistent branding over the years. The branding changed after planning and promotion for the 2016 conference had begun, but the success of today would indicate that it was worth changing.
Managing events with limited volunteer resources is still our biggest challenge. One proposal is to replace formal ‘Spring’ regional events with informal events. Our Spring regional events are appreciated by delegates, but attendance is relatively small and organising them takes up almost as much time as the bigger annual conference, with proportionally less impact for the time invested. It should allow events to be more flexible and responsive to both local contexts and topical discussions. The suggested change to informal, shorter events organised with the wider MCG community should also allow the committee more time to think and act more strategically to tackle systemic issues affecting the sector.
My final term comes to an end at the 2017 AGM, so I began succession planning this year and will be reducing my day-to-day involvement with events over the coming year.
As is probably common in volunteer organisations, achieving a balanced distribution of work across the committee is an ongoing challenge. We’ll continue to think about how we can make the expectations for committee members more clear, and perhaps look at more flexible terms (e.g. one year secondments as maternity etc cover). Organising our activities so we have resources for more strategic work is a key goal for the coming year. Given the changes in the sector over the past few years, reviewing our activities against our mission and goals is timely.
[Report by Mia Ridge, Chair, Museums Computer Group 2016]
Accounts (Treasurer’s Report)
Annual Accounts 2015
The final accounts of the Museums Computer Group as at 31 December 2015 are submitted for the Meeting’s approval.
As per last year, they were produced by Michael Bushell of Lee, Dicketts & Co, Chartered Certified Accountants, Business & Tax Advisers, Kent.
The accounts show a balance of £15,805.56 at the year-end; up from £12,088 in 2014 and up from £9,397 in 2013. The Income and Expenditure account shows that in 2015 the Museums Computer Group had an income of £10,988.71, an expenditure of £7,617.06, and a surplus of £3,371.65.
2015 saw two major events, MGM15 in Cambridge, and UK Museums on the Web 2015 conference held at the British Museum, London.
The event at the British Museum UKMW15, showed a surplus profit of £2,606.97 as shown in Figures 1 and 2 below.
The Balance Sheet shows that at the end of 2015 the Museums Computer Group had assets totalling £15,805.56. The group needs to consider how to best use these surplus funds to benefit the members.
Various approaches are now in place to better manage the surplus: the allocation of bursary places to the events (up to 5 per event); the sharing of profits with speakers after the event; and the subsidising of a drinks event at the Museums+Tech 2016 conference. The MCG 2016 Spring event in York was subsidised by the surplus funds by £1,505.26, and the Museums+Tech 2016 event is running without external sponsorship.
The MCG now has its own Natwest Debit card, which allows payments to be made online rather than via cheque on in branch transfer. This will reduce extra charges and allow more rapid and flexible payment options.
[Report by Ivan Teage, UK MCG Treasurer 2016]
Membership (Secretary’s report)
96 new individual members have registered in the past 12 months, and 2 new corporate members (from October 9th 2015 – October 9th 2016).
New membership is consistent throughout the year, although events provide a key way to attract new members: 15 new members joined when buying their ticket for the Spring Event in York, and 20 new members joined when purchasing for UKMW15.
These new members come from across over 80 organisations, including 3 who described themselves as freelance. As in previous years, this has been made up of a varied mix of museums, heritage, galleries, archives, libraries and universities, as well as those in private business, government or council representatives.
[Report by Katherine Biggs, UK MCG Secretary 2016]
We held two events in 2015/16: UKMW15 at the British Museum and our Spring event at the Hospitium in York.
UKMW15: Our annual conference was themed ‘Bridging gaps, Making connections’ and took place at the British Museum in London on 26th October 2015.
MCG’s Spring 2016 conference – ‘Life with Digital Projects’ – was held on 14th May 2016 at the Hospitium in York
A number of bursaries were made available for both events. Our ambition was to reach the wider museum community and to support individuals who may otherwise be unable to attend.
In return for the bursary stipend recipients were asked how they could assist on the day of the event but even more importantly how they could help disseminate the messages from the event to the wider community. Following a call for applicants, five recipients were selected to receive the bursaries for the Spring Event in order to support their attendance. This included free entry to the event and an additional £150 to support other expenses they would incur.
These recipients represented a broad range within the museum sector (including development officers, students, freelance workers and unwaged volunteers) and got involved in different capacities; one recipient chaired a panel session for example, whilst others supported the social media output on the day. Post-event the bursary awardees addressed the aim of sharing the event with the wider community by measures such as presenting the outcomes to colleagues, forwarding the information through their various networks or online via blogs (including the MCG blog).
A similar model is in place at Museums + Tech 2016.
[Report by Ina Pruegel, Brian Moss and Katherine Biggs]
The MCG Mailchimp list for event updates now has 1088 subscribers, up from the 205 subscribers in September 2015. This dramatic increase followed the Spring 2016 event and is the result of the committee adding to the list a backlog of addresses collected during event registration when the attendee elected to be added to the event mailing list. Engagement has remained high following the increase, with the list emails maintaining an open rate of 25-30% and a click rate of 5-7%.
The @ukmcg Twitter account how has over 3,600 followers, a 20% increase on last year. In August and September 2016 the account sent 113 tweets, resulting in 104 new followers, 2,231 profile views, 398 link clicks and 201 retweets. Our most popular content has been:
- The launch of ticket sales for Museums+Tech 2016
- Links to info about our conference speakers and blog posts about their work
- Our call for volunteer helpers for the conference
- Sharing job opportunities in the sector
The MCG community list (MCG@jiscmail.ac.uk) is still an active discussion and collaboration forum. Stats for the period 1 October 2015 – 30 September 2016:
- 1633 subscribers, at 3/10/2016 (1510 in 2014/5) – 8% increase
- 1338 posts (1052 in 2014/5) – 27% increase
- 388 people subscribed (308 in 2014/5) – 26% increase
- 133 signed off the list (114 in 2014/5) – 17% increase
[Report by Jess Suess and Andrew Lewis]