Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Report (Agenda item 7)
Hannah Jackson, the Operations Manager for Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse presented the report and circulated a ‘What’s on 2018’ leaflet to Members which was still considered to be the most popular way to advertise events at the moment. These leaflets would be sent out to all local and countywide organisations.
Gressenhall continued to offer a broad programme of events based around four operational models:
· Special Events days
· Days with a Difference
· Norfolk School Holidays Activities; and
· Ticketed Events
Two new events planned for 2018 was the Father’s Day – Beer and Brewing on 17 June and the Victorian Family Christmas planned for 20th and 21st of December.
The Museum opened its doors to the public in the recent half term holiday but visitor numbers were down most probably due to the inclement weather conditions.
Councillor Duigan mentioned the leaflet distribution and pointed out that there should be a specific place in the libraries where they should be displayed as he had noticed on several occasions that these leaflets were buried amongst other tourism material. Dr Robin Hanley said that he would contact Norfolk County Council’s Head of Library Services, Janet Holden to discuss whether these leaflets could have more of a centrepiece within the libraries.
The Chairman mentioned Breckland Council’s Market Town Initiative and felt a more joined up approach should be taken.
Other Museum developments included the successful grant award from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Voices from the Workhouse project and a dedicated space had been created to house an annual show. The 2018 exhibition Beer and Brewing - Norfolk’s Rural Pubs would open for the start of the main season. This event would look at the changing roles of pubs and the relationships that they had on their local communities.
Gressenhall’s Curator Dr Megan Dennis had been given the funding to visit Minnesota to develop links with the Digital Humanities Forum at Carleton College.
Also, in recent months the Friends of Gressenhall had generously agreed to support a project to restore the farmers’ Foundry engine boiler (formerly part of the Bygones Collection at Holkham) back to working use. All volunteers played a very important part in the Museum’s livelihood and last year at least 9,000 hours had been provided and Members were pleased to note that the number of volunteers was increasing.
As far as marketing was concerned, maintaining and growing a strong Social Media presence remained a key priority for the Museum and the site now had four Social Media Champions to ensure the regular publishing of interesting content on Facebook and Twitter to engage with an ever widening audience.
Visitor numbers for 2017-18 to date was very strong and hidden behind these numbers were positive income figures. Members were asked not to take notice of the December 2017 visitor numbers that were slightly down from previous years as a couple of school trips had been inadvertently omitted from the chart and the Christmas event had been cancelled.
Councillor Duigan asked for his thanks to be conveyed to Megan Dennis for her help with the Dereham Antiquarians.
Councillor Darby wanted to know more about the outreach work and asked if Care Homes were visited. The Operations Manager advised that Gressenhall did go out to a number of groups including Care Homes.
Councillor Richmond asked whether the Museum had approached Easton College in relation to the Futuristic Farming event in May. In response, Members were informed that the Royal Norfolk College of Farming had been approached.
The Chairman wished all concerned a very successful season and thanked the Operations Manager for her report.