A major new tool which enables archives and museums to accurately assess their economic impact has been launched by the Archives, Libraries and Museums Alliance UK (ALMA-UK) and is now available on the AMLA-UK web site at http://almauk.org.
The Economic Toolkit’s publication is of particular importance during these difficult financial times as it will enable museums and archives to demonstrate to funders, and the wider community, the positive impact that their services have on their local and regional economies.
The easy-to-use toolkit has been developed, under the guidance of ALMA-UK, by ERS Research and Consultancy, and is based on an extensive exercise to identify the most useful and crucially usable methodology for archives and museums, which share a similar economic perspective in that they attract a significant number of non-local customers.
The uniqueness of archive and museum services and products led ALMA-UK to conclude that their impact is most easily assessed through calculating the pattern and scale of each organisation’s expenditure on goods and services, and on their employees and volunteers, and then to assess the scale of expenditure by non-local visitors to these organisations.
The piloting of the toolkit has shown that it is easy and speedy to use, taking no more than five minutes to enter customer data. Key elements include:
- as an electronic resource, all calculations for user museums or archives are undertaken automatically and has in-built processes to identify and iron-out any anomalies;
- unlike other tools it captures volunteer contributions and is able to assign a value to this element
- it converts all impacts into an overall, combined assessment for an organisation, expressing this as a jobs created figure, an expenditure figure and a value-added impact figure
The toolkit has been piloted in all four nations of the UK and is now freely available on the ALMA website for museums and archives to use electronically.
Alison Turnbull, Head of Research and Standards at Museums Galleries Scotland and the project leader on behalf of ALMA-UK, commented: “We are delighted to launch the economic impact toolkit for museums and archives. This useful tool is easy to use and allows individual organisations to measure their economic impact.
“This information can be used for other purposes, such as funding applications and advocacy. Providing an overview is vital to demonstrate the work of this sector. The toolkit was produced in partnership with all of the countries in the ALMA-UK grouping. The process demonstrates the strength of cross partnership working.”
During the development of the toolkit, a dialogue was maintained with the West Midlands Observatory, a grouping of cultural organisations in this area of England, as they have developed a toolkit which covers the culture sector, including focussing on events and covering wider geographical areas. ALMA’s first level of analysis is based on local government units but can be extrapolated to a whole country. The concurrent development of both of these tools emphasised the importance of this approach at this time.