Agenda and draft minutes

Colchester & Ipswich Joint Museums Committee - Tuesday 21st January 2020 12.30 pm

Venue: Grand Jury Room, Town Hall, Colchester

Contact: Linda Slowgrove  01473 432511

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence. It was noted that as Councillor Gerard Oxford was no longer a member of the Colchester Borough Council Cabinet, he was therefore no longer a member of the Joint Museum Committee.


Unconfirmed Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 70 KB

To consider the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019.




that the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019 be signed as a true record.


To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business




that the Order of Business be confirmed as printed on the Agenda.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Presentation: Museums Retail Offer Update

To receive a presentation from Retail Officer, Claire Sanders.


16.1.     Ms Claire Sanders (Retail Officer) gave a presentation on the Museum Service Retail Offer with the following key points:

·        Retail net income for the Joint Museum Service had increased year on year over the last 5 years

·        Increase in income was due to a wider range of products, improved gift shops areas and opportunities presented by hosting major exhibits

·        Average spend per head was higher than the average across East of England museums: 87p vs 67p for museums with free admission and £1.40 vs £1.06 for paid admission museums

·        The Fenwick Hoard and Adorn exhibitions enabled exclusive local jewellery to be added to Colchester Castle retail offer, whilst the Kiss & Tell exhibition enabled bespoke home and giftware items to be added to Christchurch Mansion retail offer

·        The retail area in the Natural History Museum had its first upgrade, increasing the space available and improving lighting

·        Ipswich Museum retail sales were lower following on from the successful Clangers, Bagpuss & Co exhibition, but still showed an increase in sales net of the sales related to that exhibition

·        Future improvements to the retail offer included: new environmental range for the Natural History Museum, offer refresh at Colchester Castle after the Adorn exhibition, retail offer for the ‘Unmasked – the Power of Stories’ exhibition at Christchurch Mansion and school-friendly price points and packages   

16.2.     Councillor Young commented on the broad range of the retail offer, from the high-end commissioned jewellery pieces to small cost rocks/fossils, and asked what would be commissioned in the future, highlighting that science items did not sell well.
Ms Sanders commented that the market for science items was mostly online, whereas the rocks/fossils were small ‘pick-up’ items and were genuine fossils.

16.3.     Councillor Smart asked whether the Joint Museum Service offered online sales, or if it should offer online sales, for example for jewellery and science items, that could be available for people to buy later in the year for Christmas.
Ms Sanders commented that there was a lot of market competition online, with Google and Amazon; however, it could be an option for bespoke items if secured by a deposit.  Only 5% of the National Gallery’s retail turnover was from online sales.

16.4.     Councillor Smart commented that if investment was made available to support online sales for bespoke items, then it could also be used to retail other items, whilst being mindful of packaging costs.
Mr Hargrave (Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service Manager) reported that some museums had tried online sales but to limited success as there was no guarantee of turnover, and large online retailers, like Amazon, were able to work with low profit margins.

16.5.     Councillor Smart asked whether a catalogue of retail items could be displayed on the CIMS website indicating that they were available for sale at CIMS museums, which would give an opportunity for cross promotion of items.

16.6.     Councillor Jones asked whether there was any space for advertising items in the monthly ‘What’s On’ newsletter and if sale reductions were offered.
Ms  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


JMS/19/05 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 131 KB

The Committee is asked to note the performance of the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service for the period April to October 2019.


17.1.     Councillor Jones highlighted the notable uplift in school visits to Christchurch Mansion.  Mr Steward (Ipswich Museums Manager) reported that the Curatorial and Learning Team had been developing new workshop sessions with schools, following changes to the national curriculum, to ensure that the school offer remained relevant to learning needs whilst making the most of the unique collections, venues and staff skills on offer.

17.2.     Councillor Smart questioned why the total number of visitors across the service was showing an increase of 20%, but the total income was only showing an increase of 2%.
Mr Hargrave commented that visitors to free to enter museums were less likely to generate secondary income.  Ms Breadman added that Colchester had chosen to raise its income targets rather than implement efficiencies.

17.3.     Mr Fairclough (Head of Culture and Environment, Ipswich) commented that many of the visits to Ipswich’s museums this year had been purely in relation to the Elmer’s Big Parade Trail rather than actual visits to the museums, plus the income from the sale of Elmer-related merchandise at the museum shops was passed onto St Elizabeth Hospice.  

17.4.     Mr Steward added that there was a dual retail offer at Christchurch Mansion whilst the Ed Sheeran ‘Made in Suffolk’ exhibition was on, which would also have an impact on museum retail income.

17.5.     Ms Breadman commended the Ipswich Museum takeover of Jobcentre Plus, where families were able to interact with both live animals and museum collections, as an important part of community engagement and would look to hold a similar event in Colchester.  Ms Breadman reported that Ipswich Museum had won the Suffolk Museum Innovation of the Year 2019 award for enabling the most vulnerable to access its exhibits. Mr Steward reported that the Curatorial and Learning Team had developed a good relationship with the DWP, who were receptive to holding future pop-up events.



that the performance of the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Services for the period April to October 2019 be noted.


JMS/19/06 2020/21 Budget for Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service pdf icon PDF 72 KB

This report provides a brief update on the current financial position, as of November 2019 for Colchester & Ipswich Joint Museum Service for 2019/20.  


The report also summarises the current indicative position in relation to setting the 2020/21 budget for Colchester & Ipswich Joint Museum Service and recommended financial contributions from Colchester Borough Council and Ipswich Borough Council, to be agreed through each Council’s budget setting process.


18.1.     Mr Hargrave reported that the proposed budget contributions for 2020/21 had taken into account a 1.7% inflationary increase, a 2% pay increase and a 3.8% pension contribution increase.  New activities were being developed for Colchester Castle, e.g. escape rooms and sleepover events, to help meet costs.

18.2.     Mr Fairclough asked whether there had been any progress in resolving the high water bill. Mr Hargrave reported that the bill, which covered all of the Castle Park, was still being investigated.  Ms Breadman added that the bill covered the 2 museum buildings, plus 2 new buildings and the refilling of the boating lake after it had been drained.



(i)            that the total Colchester Borough Council and Ipswich Borough Council budget contribution to the Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service for 2020/21 be agreed as £1,934,600;

(ii)           that the budget contribution for 2020/21 in relation to Colchester Borough Council be agreed as £1,072,400;

(iii)         that the budget contribution for 2020/21 in relation to Ipswich Borough Council be agreed as £862,200;

(iv)         that the total figure and respective partner contributions be recommended to the Cabinet of Colchester Borough Council and the Executive of Ipswich Borough Council for adoption.


JMS/19/07 Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service: Business Plan 2018-2022 Update pdf icon PDF 67 KB

The Committee is asked to approve the refreshed Business Plan and Performance Targets for 2020/21.

Additional documents:


19.1.     Councillor Jones highlighted that the first line on page 3 of the Business Plan should read as “…. have helped shape the 2018-2022 Business Plan”.

19.2.     Councillor Jones commented that parts of the background information were now out-of-date. Mr Hargrave commented that the Business Plan overview was written to cover the period 2018-2022, but its objectives were refreshed each year; however, a new Business Plan would be created later in the year as it would be required for the next NPO application.

19.3.     Councillor Jones asked about the end date of the fixed term Assistant Curator post.  Mr Hargrave reported that this post was funded by Arts Council England as a result of a successful bid for the Decoding the Dead project, but was not currently included on the Staff Structure chart.

19.4.     Councillor Jones highlighted that the first point on page 22 under 2. Collections should read as “…. will be on-line and more publicly accessible …” and the last line at the bottom of page 28 under objective 1.8 should read as “…. to complement ‘Gladiators’ catalytic exhibition …”.

19.5.     Councillor Jones commented under objective 1.1 (to increase number and range of visitors), that whilst there was reference to representing ethnic minority groups, there was nothing about engaging with people from the most disadvantaged areas. 

19.6.     Councillor Smart commented that it would be hard to measure the involvement of people from disadvantaged areas unless postcode data was available.

19.7.     Councillor Young asked whether it would be possible to monitor attendances of children who qualified for free school meals.  Ms Pickles (Colchester Museums Manager) commented that schools were able to utilise Pupil Premium funding to improve the attainment of disadvantaged schoolchildren.

19.8.     Ms Breadman highlighted that there was free access to Colchester Castle as part of the Heritage Open Days each year.  Ms Breadman added that the best way to engage with disadvantaged groups would be to work with the DWP to create outreach programmes.

19.9.     Mr Hargrave commented that local authorities were best placed to extend the range of museum service audiences, and Ms Breadman added that at the next level of NPO funding, core funding was provided for resource to increase accessibility to museums services for a wider audience.

19.10.  Councillor Young reported that Firstsite had gained recognition for its ‘Holiday Hunger’ programme aimed at schoolchildren eligible for free school meals.

19.11.  Councillor Young commented in relation to objective 2.6 that disused shop windows had been used in the past for displays to raise the profile of museum activities.

19.12.  Councillor Jones asked in relation to objective 4.6 whether the focus could be placed on schools whose intake had a higher level of deprivation when looking to attract future trainees.

19.13.  Ms Breadman reported that Colchester Borough Council had allocated £15,000 to the Museums Service to look at ways to attract schoolchildren, for example, free transport to the museums.  Councillor Jones added that Ipswich Borough Council had budget available to improve opportunities for young people in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Proposed Dates of Meeting for 2020/21

To confirm the dates of the meetings for 2020/21:


·                Tuesday 30 June 2020, 12.30pm – Ipswich

·                Tuesday 19 January 2021, 12.30pm – Colchester


20.1.     Councillor Young highlighted that she was not available for the proposed date of 30 June 2020 and asked whether there was any option to move this date to 7 July 2020. 



that the dates of meetings for 2020/21 be provisionally confirmed as:


·            Tuesday 30 June 2020, 12.30pm – Ipswich

·            Tuesday 19 January 2021, 12.30pm – Colchester