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Linlithgow Heritage Trust Case Study

Introduction

This case study is about:

A capacity building project to increase the resilience of Linlithgow Heritage Trust.

You should read it if:

You are interested in improving the leadership, governance, and long-term sustainability of your museum.

Background

Linlithgow Heritage Trust currently runs Annet House Museum, which tells the story of the town of Linlithgow. The museum collection preserves the heritage of the former Royal Burgh of Linlithgow for the enjoyment and education of both local people and visitors.

The project

Linlithgow Heritage Trust has been leasing their current museum building, which is now due to be sold. This has brought about a period of change and the Trust has been offered new premises, necessitating new funding, displays and ways of working. Feeling unprepared and under-resourced to meet the challenges of relocating the museum, the Trustees undertook a capacity building project. This consisted of a bespoke training package for trustees and a clear review of their systems of governance. The project sought to equip the board to deal with issues such as skills gaps, succession planning, financial sustainability and decision making. The ultimate aim was to transform Linlithgow Heritage Trust from a low capacity voluntary sector organisation to a strong and resilient body that is able to embrace change and look forward to the future.

An artist's impression of the new gallery space.

Project Funders:

  • Museums Galleries Scotland (Small Project Fund)
  • Linlithgow Heritage Trust

Challenges and successes

  • The Trust has secured Stage 2 Heritage Lottery funding for their ‘A New Museum for Royal Linlithgow’ project. The Trust believes that this capacity building project was vital to successfully completing this milestone.
  • Some trustees, particularly those of retirement age, were not comfortable submitting CVs for a formal skills audit, so this was instead carried out on a more informal basis.

The difference made

  • Trustees now feel they have the skills and knowledge to approach their new museum project with confidence and enthusiasm.
  • A Business Plan has been developed which will increase the financial sustainability of the Trust in the medium to long term.
  • Improvements in the way the Trust communicates externally have resulted in the local community becoming more aware of the Trust and its work.

What was learned

  • Good governance and succession planning are absolutely central to the success and resiliance of independent museums.
  • There is always room to improve communication within an organisation, even if you think you are doing well already!
  • Even the most experienced Trustees always have something more to learn.

If you are thinking of doing something similar...

  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you know it all already! You might be surprised at how much even the most knowledgeable or experienced leaders or trustees can gain from this sort of exercise.     
  • Always prioritise getting your house in order. By addressing any issues around succession, governance, or internal processes you will create a stable foundation from which to embark on an ambitious project or period of change.
  • Make sure to set realistic timescales for training, as trustees are often busy people with other commitments. These should be considered at the outset and built into your training schedule to make sure attendance is high and the process is not too onerous for your trustees.

Further information

If you would like any further information on this project, please contact Linlithgow Heritage Trust on linlithgowheritagetrust@gmail.com

This case study was originally published in January 2018.