Through this scheme, BIA:NW matches specialists from business and the professions with arts organisations and museums to provide advice and guidance on specific projects.

Who is it for?

Arts organisations and museums who wish to acquire improved skills in relation to a particular business aspect of their operation; to review an aspect of their organisation’s operation or develop a new area.

Middle and senior managers from business and the professions who are likely to have at least three years of management experience and specialist skills to offer. Motivation can range from personal and management development to the wish to test skills in a new environment or to put something back into the community. An interest in the arts is not essential, but is likely to make the volunteering more enjoyable.

How does it work?

The Skills Bank is based on the principle that many people running arts organisations are required to deal with a wide range of business matters, but may lack the necessary skills and training to do so effectively.

The scheme has been devised to enable business managers to become involved in a very part time capacity and often outside normal office hours. An adviser is not expected to act as an extra pair of hands, but rather as an outside expert who brings a fresh eye and new skills to an arts organisation’s situation. An average project involves a meeting every few weeks over period of around four months.

BIA:NW meets with the arts organisation to discuss their needs and to make sure the Skills Bank is the most appropriate form of help. The arts organisation completes an application form and is provided with a guide to ensure that understanding and expectations of the programme are at an appropriate level.

The business volunteer, once registered for the scheme, is also given a guide in order to introduce the cultural sector and to ensure a matching understanding and expectation of the programme.

They are then carefully matched with an organisation needing their particular specialism and the emphasis is on transference of skills so that, at the end of the project, the arts manager is better equipped for the future. All projects are confirmed in an agreement that defines the scope of the project and protects both parties and BIA:NW monitors the progress of the projects.

Skills Bank projects have covered a wide range of subjects, including business planning, legal issues, marketing, HR, finance and IT.

 Since 1991 BIA:NW has organised over 550 placements, valued by the volunteers at over £2m, with a high rate of satisfaction on both sides.