A very Happy New Year to our members, friends and colleagues across the sector! It’s a busy but exciting year ahead for us all here at the Association for Cultural Enterprises. We are building up to our biggest (and best) ever Conference and Trade Show and we continue to deliver new, valuable content and support services to help cultural organisations maximise their commercial opportunities -look out for much more on this in future communications!

I am now over four months into my new role as CEO of Cultural Enterprises. Over the last 16 weeks or so, I have witnessed first hand the challenges and opportunities that the cultural sector faces in the current environment. The funding landscape for cultural venues of all types is becoming increasingly uncertain and competitive, while the cost of doing business is rising steadily. The impact of external factors such as pandemic, Brexit, the cost of living and the climate crisis have added further pressure and uncertainty to the sector.

In this context, it is more important than ever for cultural venues to embrace commerciality and maximise their income streams from a variety of sources. Commerciality is not a dirty word, nor is it incompatible with the core values and missions of cultural organisations. On the contrary, commerciality can enable cultural venues to become more resilient, sustainable and innovative, while enhancing their social and cultural impact.

This is why I am convinced that the Association for Cultural Enterprises can make a hugely significant contribution to the sector both now and in the months and years ahead. Our primary purpose is to help the cultural sector make money – it’s as simple as that!

We are the only trade body that represents and supports the commercial activities of museums, galleries, heritage sites, libraries, performing arts venues and other cultural organisations across the UK and beyond. We provide our members with incredible access to best practice, training and networking as well as recognition for their achievements and other meaningful, practical and tangible support.

New Year, New Member Benefits

We are also introducing a whole range of new benefits to support sustainable income generation within the sector, starting with the Seeds of Change prize fund. This is a new initiative that will award grants of up to £10,000 to cultural venues that have innovative and impactful ideas for developing their commercial potential. The prize fund is open to all members of the Association for Cultural Enterprises, and the application deadline is 29 March 2024.

Seeds of Change is just one of the ways we are helping the cultural sector to adapt and thrive in the changing world. I firmly believe that commerciality is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity for cultural venues to grow, diversify and reach new audiences.

I also believe that commerciality is a collective endeavour, and that we can achieve more by working together and learning from each other, which is why I am determined to grow our membership. The more members we have, the more we can work together, share best practice and learn from each other. I would urge any cultural venue, regardless of size or budget, to join us and become part of the movement that is transforming the cultural sector for the better.

Whether you are already a member or not, I would love to hear from you and to support you in your commercial journey. Together we can make a difference and ensure that the cultural sector remains vibrant, relevant and sustainable for generations to come.

The time for change is now. Join us on the journey!

Gordon Morrison
By Gordon Morrison
Gordon is CEO of the Association for Cultural Enterprises. Bringing a wealth of experience in culture, tourism and hospitality, Gordon is passionate about helping cultural venues to develop and thrive.
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2 Replies to “The Time for Change is Now: Why Cultural Venues Need to Embrace Commerciality”

  1. So true Gordon, I couldn’t agree more – great article.
    Our catering consultancy services have helped cultural organisations become more commercially sustainable for a very long time. However, this is becoming more essential than ever.

  2. A very timely article. I rather enjoy the challenge of sustainability. This sector has some fantastically creative minds. One of the best feelings from a visit to another attraction is that mental air punch when you see an original commercial idea wonderfully executed.

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