outline of the programme

VENUES & Timing

The all-day workshops run on a Friday between 9:30am and 5:00pm. Dates will not change though venues may vary from those shown below. The content of the workshops is always under review; however we always cover the topics shown.

Read reviews of this year’s programme here.


MAY 13, 14 & 15

Workshop 1 - Residential - Centre for Management Creativity, High Trenhouse, Malham, North Yorkshire

  • The art and science of leadership in culture, business and politics - a 360° examination of leadership with exercises and masterclasses taught by the Directors, Nick Winterbotham and Stephen Feber, BCLM Director & Chief Executive, Andrew Lovett, Dawn Yates-Obe and Arnie Skelton.

  • The MRL method

  • Self reliance for you and your organisation

  • Planning your MRL year

  • Mentoring, coaching and MRL evaluation

  • Planning your Overseas Study Visit

11:30am Wednesday May 13 to 3:30pm Friday May 15

Malham provides an unrivalled environment for reflection, decompression and engagement with key issues around leadership, for you, your organisation and your relationships.


Workshop 2 - Enterprise in Action - Black Country Living Museum (BCLM), Hobbs and Sons Fish & Chip Shop, and Loaf, social enterprise bakery, Stirchley, West Midlands

  • You will make bread or cook fish and chips in hands-on sessions.

  • You will explore the relationships between finance, management and the day-to-day operational realities of making food for sale.

  • Dee George, long-time manager of Hobbs and Sons, Jennifer Milton, Finance Director of Bletchley Park and Andrew Lovett, BCLM’s Director, will explain how financial and numerical information is used to motivate and develop teams - in individual units and across the Museum.

  • Examples of highly effective financial and numerical ‘dashboards’ which can be used across organisations, are provided

There is significant emphasis on enterprise in the cultural sector, but how do you go about making genuine surpluses from trading goods and services? This workshop is designed to provide answers.  Loaf started out as a small-scale social enterprise and has always remained a collective with a flat management structure. BCLM is a trust which operates as a trading cultural business, with a more traditional hierarchical organisational structure. Though different, they both operate the surplus generating, reinvestment model with a variety of sources of income. Bletchley Park has been outstandingly successful both culturally and commercially, Jennifer will explain how accurate, timely and appropriate information drives this success.

9:30am - 5:00pm


Workshop 3 - The Museum and the City - Manchester Museum & Manchester Art Gallery, with Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum and Amanda Wallace, Deputy Director of Manchester Art Gallery

  • You’ll be exploring the power of networks - mapping your own and getting to know more about the others in your MRL year.

  • Esme will be offering insights into her leadership journey, the development of the museum and its place in Manchester’s civic, social and political life

  • Amanda will be exploring the relationship between the gallery and the City and its people through the lens of the May 2017 Arena bombing archive, now held at the Art Gallery.

With the changing structure and funding of the public sector there is considerable discussion about the purpose of institutions of material record. What are museums and galleries for? How do they offer civic and cultural leadership?

In the aftermath in the Arena bombing in 2017 people in Greater Manchester spontaneously created a memorial in St Ann’s Square. The Art Gallery stepped forward and in close cooperation with the City Council and Manchester University, it collected material from the memorial; notes, balloons, teddy bears, football scarves…. You will visit the archive, hear from Amanda, who led the initiative, and discuss how the Gallery has found a renewed purpose. This tragic event tested and affirmed relationships between the Gallery, Manchester City Council and the people of Greater Manchester.

9:30am - 5:00pm

July, AUGUST, September

Overseas Study Visits (OSV)

  • Travel to museums and cultural organisations - worldwide

For many the OSV is a highlight of their MRL year. We support your trip, help you with selection and introductions. The growing MRL community will be available to you as an invaluable resource in planning your trip.


Workshop 4 - OSV Pecha Kucha presentations - Think Tank, Millennium Point, Birmingham - part of Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT)

  • Resilience lessons from other countries - cultural, financial, organisational and personal

  • Masterclass with Elaine Gurian - culture - freedom and control

This is a chance to meet your fellow MRLers following their immersion in other cultures over the summer. International Museum consultant Elaine Gurian provides unrivalled wisdom and insight into the purpose and function of the museum. Particularly valuable is the opportunity to compare and contrast the UK with other cultures; asking the basic question what does the culture of the country allow and what does it prevent?

9:30am - 5:00pm


Workshop 5 - Governance and Purpose - London Transport Museum

  • The Board, Chairman and the CEO - case studies of the good, the bad and the ugly, with Michael Day, former Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces and Trustee of the National Trust

  • The long view - leadership reflections from Sam Mullins, Director, London Transport Museum

Michael will teach two case studies, including his experience of Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red, the poppies public art work installed at the Tower of London between July and November 2014. Sam will reflect on a distinguished career in the museum sector, its different phases and challenges. Both, offer masterclasses in leadership, governance and the art and craft of being a leader.

9:30am - 5:00pm


Workshop 6 - BCLM

November 2020 will see our annual get-together for all MRL participants present and past.

  • Keynote speaker - TBC

The 2020-2021 programme is the seventh in the MRL series and one of the distinguishing features of the programme is the power and depth of wisdom, knowledge and experience in the alumni group. There is tremendous power in the MRL network and the November annual gathering is a chance to experience this.

9:30am - 5:00pm


Workshop 7 - Derby Museums - Making a Museum of Making

Derby Museums is one of the most exciting museum services in the UK; a place of constant questioning, innovation, co-creation and redevelopment. You will meet the team behind the project and learn more about its purpose.

9:30am - 5:00pm



Workshop 8 - Leadership in the Arts

  • Sir Nick Serota, Chair, and Kate Bellamy, Director of Museums, Arts Council England (ACE)

  • Tristram Hunt, Director, Victoria & Albert Museum

Since its inception in 2013, ACE has been the chief funder of MRL. Black Country Living Museum has shown a lead in the sector by running and developing the leadership programme and ACE has recognised this. The January workshop provides an opportunity for MRL participants to discuss leadership challenges in the cultural sector with ACE’s Chair and Director of Museums. In the afternoon we visit the V&A for a question and answer session with its current Director - exploring how he sees the positioning and purpose for the Museum.

9:30am - 5:30pm


Workshop 9 - Site Development Safari - Bletchley Park

  • Putting the resilience lessons into practice - development masterclass for a museum site

  • How to make money running a cultural business

This is a whole day, in-depth examination of a significant site on the outskirts of London.  There will be a Q&A with Iain Standen, Director of the Trust, and Jennifer Milton, the Finance Director. Bletchley Park has made enormous strides in interpreting and developing a site of national and international significance. The question of the day is how it should be developed in the future to sustain its independent status and develop a resilient financial base. Jennifer is an MRL graduate, teaches on the second workshop and is an invaluable source of expertise on finance, investment and financial management.

9:30am - 5:00pm

MARCH 10, 11, 12

Workshop 10 - Conclusion - Final residential - Centre for Management Creativity, Malham, North Yorkshire

Exercises and masterclasses taught by Directors, Nick Winterbotham and Stephen Feber, BCLM Director & Chief Executive, Andrew Lovett, Dawn Yates-Obe and Arnie Skelton, including:

  • Resilient leadership over the long-term

  • Your MRL year - retrospective

  • Your personal strategic plan

  • Active coaching in group exercises

  • The art of the leader

11:30am Wednesday March 10 to 3:00pm Friday March 12

MRL is under continuous review by the Directors and whilst Programme dates are fixed, content, speakers and location may vary from those described here.