South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries


Inspiring Audiences: Home and Away

4 & 5 July

Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth

In partnership with Cornerstone Heritage, University of Plymouth


(Offline tickets now also ended)

*** Booking is now closed ***

Be inspired

The 2019 conference theme is ‘Inspiring Audiences Home and Away’. It will focus on the different ways we can work with and inspire local communities whilst also engaging with tourism audiences, which is of particular relevance to the South West region.

Sessions will explore and discuss how museums and heritage sites can engage their local communities, diversify their audiences and provide tourists with meaningful and enjoyable experiences. The event will provide inspiration and practical examples to take away and apply to your own work and the organisations you work with.



Hear from the experts

We are pleased to be introducing Stephen Bird MBE (Head of Heritage Services, Bath & North East Somerset Council), and Victoria Rogers (Museum Manager, Cardiff Story Museum) as our keynote speakers - each setting the tone for a great day of learning, sharing and inspiration.

We have an exciting line-up of specialists and heritage professionals from across the field of audience development, focussing on both local engagement and tourism. Expect to hear from Real Ideas Organisation, National Trust, Kresen Kernow, Bristol Culture, Historic England, Cultural Vitality, SWMDP, Cornwall's Regimental Museum, Wiltshire Museum, Cornerstone Praxis (University of Plymouth), and more. Our speakers will share expertise, showcase findings from live projects and partnerships, and provide hands-on workshops - inspiring you to apply what you learn to your own work.

Who should attend?

The 2019 South West Fed Conference is open to members and non-members. With an array of speakers and talks, there will be something for everyone to take away. It is ideal for anyone who is:

  • Working with or in museums, heritage sites, art galleries, heritage services (including volunteers) at any level
  • Looking for ideas and inspiration for meaningfully engaging with local communities, tourism audiences, or both
  • Facing challenges in creating experiences and programmes of activity that can appeal to audiences with very different connections to a place
  • Looking to build on their existing knowledge of audience engagement, or completely new to the topic
  • Interested in developing their own learning and CPD
  • Keen to network with people across the heritage sector in the south west and beyond


We encourage you to share what you are learning at the event on Twitter using the hashtag #SWFED2019.

Network with others

We understand that the best conferences allow space for people to share thoughts and connect with others. That is why we are including more time in the programme for networking and good old conversation than before.

As with last year, there will be an enjoyable social evening for those staying for the two days (those attending only one day, can also attend the evening event on 4 July).

Freelancers Meet-up

This year we will be arranging a meet-up during the conference (Thursday lunchtime) for freelancers, in collaboration with the Museum Freelance group. This will be an opportunity to share experiences and to discuss establishing a network for freelancers in the South West. Watch this space for further details.

2019 AGM

The conference will include our 2019 AGM on day one, which runs for approximately 30-45 minutes. Anyone not wishing to attend the AGM will be able to use the time to network. The AGM itself is free, and any South West Fed member wishing to attend the AGM but not the conference can still turn up for that part. Please email if you are planning to attend only the AGM and not the conference.

“This year’s conference is particularly exciting because it invites discussion across the two days on how to engage with and attract two broad audiences with very different connections to a place. It will bring up challenges while showcasing inspiring solutions from all over the heritage sector.”

Claire Dixon - Chair, South West Fed


Day 1: Stephen Bird MBE
Head of Heritage Services, Bath & North East Somerset Council

Stephen is Head of Heritage Services at Bath and North East Somerset Council, responsible for the Roman Baths & Pump Room, Fashion Museum & Assembly Rooms, Victoria Art Gallery and Bath Record Office. In 2005 he restructured the service as a business unit within the Council working to bespoke financial arrangements and a rolling 5-year business plan.

For many years Stephen played an active role in the region’s museums sector. He served the Federation as Hon. Secretary (1996-2000) and President (2000-2002) and sat on the boards of the Area Museums Council for the South West (1996-1998), South West Museums Council 1998-2003 and MLA South West (2003-2009). Nationally he is an AMA mentor and Fellowship assessor for the Museums Association. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the Alexander Keiller Museum Avebury, is a trustee of Glastonbury Abbey and Company Secretary of the Roman Baths Foundation.

In 2018 Stephen was awarded an MBE for services to museums, heritage and tourism.

Day 2: Victoria Rogers
Manager, Cardiff Story Museum
'Building and diversifying audiences - lessons from the Museum of Cardiff'

By establishing Wales’ capital’s first city history museum, its collection and its visitor and participant base from absolute scratch, the Cardiff Story Museum has built, and then diversified, its audience over the course of 12 years. This keynote will explore how they approached this, why it is crucial for museums to do so, and the things they learnt along the way.

Victoria Rogers is the Manager of the Cardiff Story Museum. With 20 years’ experience of the sector she has worked for Coldharbour Mill Trust, Tyne and Wear Museums and the project to establish Cardiff’s first city history museum. She is also President of the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales.


Booking now closed - click here to join waitlist

Ticket type

Price (£)

Super early bird (member only) - 2 days


Super early bird (member only) - day 1


Super early bird (member only) - day 2


Early bird (member only) - 2 days


Early bird (member only) - day 1


Early bird (member only) - day 2


Standard booking (member only) - 2 days


Standard booking (member only) - day 1


Standard booking (member only) - day 2


Early bird (non-member) - 2 days


Early bird (non-member) - day 1


Early bird (non-member) - day 2


Standard booking (non-member) - 2 days


Standard booking (non-member) - day 1


Standard booking (non-member) - day 2


Trade stand - Corporate Member per day (includes 1 delegate place)


Trade stand - Non-Corporate Member per day (includes 1 delegate place)


Event Information


The Conference is held in the Roland Levinsky Building at the University of Plymouth. The building is opposite Drake Circus Shopping Centre in the heart of Plymouth city centre - maps and other related information can be found here.

For transport details to get to the University of Plymouth please click here.


The University and South West Fed encourage delegates to take alternative methods of transport to the Conference (see links under visiting). However, the University continues to permit very limited car parking on campus for staff and visitors – in recognition of the fact that some do not have a realistic transport alternative.

Only delegates with mobility impairment will normally be permitted to park on the Plymouth campus. For more information please contact the reception desk at or by phoning +44 1752 588444

Alternative parking can be found in Drake Circus shopping mall and the Regent Street car park nearby. Charges apply.


We recommend that you go to the Visit Plymouth website for more information about nearby accommodation by clicking here.

Jury's Inn Hotel in Exeter St and the Copthorne Hotel in Armada Way are very close to the campus. Copthorne Hotel is offering the University rate for delegates of £76 B&B including parking and VAT (please quote “University of Plymouth”) - twin rooms might be available (check when booking). Jury's Inn Hotel is offering the university corporate rate which is £80 per night per single occupancy double room, inclusive of breakfast and VAT. The code JISWFE030719 should be entered into their 'Do you have a promo code' box when booking via the Jury's Inn Hotel website.

Joining South West Fed

South West Fed members benefit from discounted conference tickets. If you are not a Member and would like to join the SWFed before booking your conference ticket, please visit our membership page here.

Free evening social event (4 July)

For the evening on Day 1, there will be a drinks reception and a visit to the SW Retro Computing Archive. The evening will begin at 5pm with a presentation on the archive, which is held at the University of Plymouth, and gives a fascinating insight into popular culture, gaming and the development of computing. This will be followed by an informal drinks reception and a visit to the SW Retro Computing Archive itself. The permanent display holds around 250 of the exhibits at any one time. You can expect to see items such as a valve from the rebuild of Colossus (the world's first fully electronic, semi-programmable digital computer), early computer systems and consoles from brands such as Apple, Commodore, Amstrad, Nintendo, Atari and Binatone, and handheld games including Simon, Donkey Kong, and Kevin Keegan's Match of the Day! This will be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the timeline of computers and gaming, and to reminisce with others about 8-bit consoles and that time you protected the planet from rows and rows of Space Invaders. For more information, please visit:

Please register your interest for the visit to the SW Retro Computing Archive before lunchtime on Day 1 (if you are only attending Day 2, but still wish to attend this evening event, please email This will be free to attend no matter what day you are attending the conference. We will also be aiming to to gather in a bar or affordable restaurant so that you can grab a bite to eat, chat, and relax - we will update you nearer the time.

Trade Stands

Visit our trade stands to hear about what they can offer you, your organisation, and the heritage sector.


trade stand logos

We'd like to thank our conference partners Cornerstone Heritage, University of Plymouth for hosting the event.