MRL is a unique year long continuous professional development programme designed to help you become a cultural leader for the 21st Century; resilient and entrepreneurial.  You get a £7,500 programme for a deposit fee of £795:

  • a fully funded overseas study visit to a country or countries of your choice

  • a personal mentor

  • 8 workshops offering an in depth look at leadership with comprehensive support materials

  • 2 residential retreats in a beautiful North Yorkshire location

  • your travel expenses funded up to the travel bursary limit of £1,350

  • the friendship and support of a like minded group of cultural professionals

  • recognition of your development journey

Bursaries are available.

The website

The website contains a wealth of information about the Programme.  If you are considering making an application we suggest you thoroughly explore it.  If this throws up any questions then get in touch with us.  If you feel that you or your organisation could benefit from the MRL method but in a bespoke way, then get in touch.


MRL provides a 360° in depth examination of leadership in the cultural, political and commercial spheres. We provide this using a wide range of thinking, reflecting and learning processes; while there is an ‘MRL core’ we continually innovate. You can think of MRL as a series of social, emotional, physical and intellectual learning 'spaces', each with a leadership focus and all developed to recognise that everyone experiences, thinks and acts in their own way. Review the current programme to learn more about how this discovery driven, iterative approach to personal development and leadership training is applied.

Each event has its own support material, exercises and briefing notes. These are available at any time via the dedicated MRL server.  Every workshop and masterclass is carefully evaluated and because the Programme runs from May to March we have scope to make content adjustments in light of feedback, if required.  

You will choose your Mentor at the first residential retreat and they will support your development journey with personal coaching, phone and email support.  In March, at the end of your MRL year, you are given all of your your responses to the post workshop completion surveys. These documents provide a record of your development.  You will also receive a Certificate of Completion.

You will also benefit form the experience of previous MRL cohorts, which are actively connected through social media.


To make the most of these opportunities, we are looking for the passionately curious, the enquirers; those who are motivated to develop.  We like participants who think entrepreneurially, not just about money but about every opportunity to make a difference for themselves, their organisations and communities.

Have you developed a project or programme with limited resources in an imaginative way? Have you worked with volunteers and paid staff, developing innovative teams? Have you run a department but not an organisation?  Have you recently taken up a new leadership position? If you have developed a taste for leadership and you have a willingness to find out more about yourself, then we'd like to hear from you.  We offer you a series of graduated challenges, ensuring you are supported throughout your MRL year as your leadership capacity and resilience grows.  Read the discussion on MRL's development thinking.

Overseas Study Visit

One of the highlights of the MRL year is the Overseas Study Visit, providing an outstanding opportunity to look at museums, galleries or cultural social enterprises in other countries. You can see the range of places visited by the cohorts since 2015 here.  Participants find that comparing and contrasting their experience with cultural organisations elsewhere, holds an invaluable mirror up to their own practice and organisations.  Knowledge from the study visits is pooled; with valuable lessons drawn from American funding models where philanthropy and earned income predominate, and European ones where public funding is often more important.  Sector changes in the UK place many institutions midway between Europe and the USA in terms of their funding and structures.


A mantra on MRL is 'know the numbers to see the patterns', not because we think numbers are intrinsically fascinating, but because good data is critical to resilience.  We understand that not everyone is comfortable with numerical analysis, and that we live in a language rich rather than a numerically focused world; we therefore offer a broad range of approaches to the subject.  We also know from research and experience that some organisations have numerical and financial reporting which is, at best, opaque. MRL is designed to deal with this; not only to help you find a way through the fog but also to provide tried and tested financial models which work across the sector; for local authority museums, independents, National museums, galleries and other heritage organisations. 

These models are not theoretical; MRL is based at the independent Black Country Living Museum, which is a trading charity that charges for entry to the site. It is one of the few UK museums which self-finances its operating costs and the Programme draws on the entrepreneurial focus required to run BCLM as a surplus generating social enterprise.  We also provide a number of commercial views on making and understanding money. 

Timely, accurate, consistent numerical data is the lifeblood of self-reliance for any enterprise and as an MRL participant, you will find out about financial management systems appropriate to building self reliance in the cultural sector.  You'll also undertake site and building development exercises (the 'Enterprise Safari' at up to 3 locations), have explanations of statutory reporting structures and be helped to read Balance Sheets, the Statement of Financial Affairs, the Report and Accounts and to apply cultural and commercial resilience tests.

It's important to say that we don't see numbers as merely measuring something; a well thought out, widely disseminated management information system acts as a source of intelligence, a crucial aspect of a learning organisation. Organisations that operate in this way are much more likely to be resilient, spotting internal and external trends more easily and finding effective adaptations. They are also much easier to lead and much more likely to be entrepreneurial.


The MRL view of good governance is drawn from wide experience and research both in the UK and internationally on the changing relationships between the Director or CEO and his or her Board or Committee. Through case studies, personal research, reading and worked examples you will get an in-depth view of this critical topic. As museums are altering their organisational form, often becoming charitable trusts, understanding the role of the CEO and senior staff in relation to a Board of Trustees is becoming increasingly important.  These relationships can be straightforward and well ordered, yet often entail a degree of financial, legal, personal and cultural complexity.  This complexity can sometimes overwhelm an organisation and the Programme examines notable governance failures, like the demise of Kids Company.