A surprise election, a dip in the sea, and all the glass cases in the world

This Skip the Queue podcast episode is hosted by Oz Austwick, the Head of Commercial at Rubber Cheese, and he’s joined by Paul Marden, Rubber Cheese’s CEO.

“You can go and get a job, you can go and pay your taxes, but you can’t go into the museums on your own because you’re not a responsible adult.”

Paul Marden is the Founder and Managing Director of Carbon Six Digital and the CEO of Rubber Cheese. He is an Umbraco Certified Master who likes to think outside the box, often coming up with creative technical solutions that clients didn’t know were possible. Paul oversees business development and technical delivery, specialising in Microsoft technologies including Umbraco CMS, ASP.NET, C#, WebApi, and SQL Server. He’s worked in the industry since 1999 and has vast experience of managing and delivering the technical architecture for both agencies and client side projects of all shapes and sizes. Paul is an advocate for solid project delivery and has a BCS Foundation Certificate in Agile.

“Is this how it feels to kind of run a museum, to be the custodian of this amazing thing and just want people to come and engage with it.”

Oz Austwick is the Head of Commercial at Rubber Cheese, he has a somewhat varied job history having worked as a Blacksmith, a Nurse, a Videographer, and Henry VIII’s personal man at arms. Outside of work he’s a YouTuber, a martial artist, and a musician, and is usually found wandering round a ruined castle with his kids.

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • MandH Show Highlights
  • Upcoming election
  • Accessibility in Museums
  • Family Friendly Museum Awards
  • Launching of the 2024 Rubber Cheese Visitor Attraction Website Survey

Skip the Queue MandH Show

The interview

Your hosts, Paul Marden and Oz Austwick



Oz Austwick: So, Paul, where have you been recently? 

Paul Marden: So as we are recording, it is currently half term week, a little bit of a damp half term week, which is a bit of a shame when you’re in mid May, but went to Longleat at the weekend and went specifically to go and see their Steve Backshall live event, which is happening at the moment. So for those of you that don’t have kids watching CBBC at the moment, Steve Backshall does the deadly 60 telly programme, which is kind of animals and nature on CBBC. And Steve brought out some of the best animals on his event at Longleat. So it was really cool. We got to see some. We saw an armadillo, we saw massive, great python and a wolf. He brought a wolf out on stage, which was pretty awesome. 

Oz Austwick: Oh, wow. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, that was cool. So there was lots of oohing and ahring and everybody enjoyed it. Lots of fun, even though it was absolutely gushing down with rain whilst we were there on Monday. So we didn’t. Typical english style. We did not let the weather get in the way of a good day. What about you? Where have you been recently, Oz? 

Oz Austwick: We had our bank holiday day out on Sunday, not on Monday. So we had amazing weather. We threw all the kids in the car and drove down to Dorset to Swanage, where I used to spend my childhood holidays. And the place that went was Swanage Pier. I love it there. I spent my childhood, you know, fishing off the pier and swimming in the sea. Sadly, the hotel I used to go to doesn’t exist anymore. They knocked it down and turned it into a sewage treatment plant. 

Paul Marden: Attractive. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, absolutely. But it was absolutely amazing. The sea was very cold indeed. I did get in, had a bit of a swim, as did my eleven year old. The others all chickened out and just sat and watched. But it was lovely, you know, two p machines in the arcades. 

Paul Marden: Oh, I love it. Was it the pushers on the shelves? Coin drop ones? I love that. Yeah, gotta be the two p ones. Can’t afford the ten p ones. That’s too rich for me. 

Oz Austwick: Who can? I mean, that’s vast amounts of money to win anything in those. 

Paul Marden: So Swanage for me just brings back memories of geography, field trips. I remember going there for about a week whilst I was at secondary school donkeys years ago, so. 

Oz Austwick: Right, well, we used to drive down from Yorkshire, where I grew up, and it would take all day to drive down to go to Swanage. I mean, it was, yeah, when we were there. Absolutely amazing. And the hotel was lovely before they knocked it down, obviously. So I have very fond memories and, yeah, nothing has happened to spoil those memories, thankfully. A very popular place for us to go. 

Paul Marden: Lovely day trip. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, it really was. It really was. So the M+H show, let’s talk about that, because that happened and it was quite a thing, wasn’t it? 

Paul Marden: It really was. I had such a lovely time, so it was my first time at M+H show. It was. It was lovely event. They pitched it as the big meetup and it really was. I mean, it was absolutely jam packed with people. There were lots and lots of people there when I was there on Wednesday and so many people that I know that I was bumping into that were either running stands, presenting, or just being there and enjoying all the great content and meeting people. It was just such an awesome event. How was it for you as your first big attractions event? 

Oz Austwick: Absolutely, yeah. It wasn’t just my first M+H. It was my 1st event. And, yeah, I was gobsmacked, to be honest. It was big. More than anything. I’m just genuinely surprised at how many companies sell museum display cases. 

Paul Marden: There was a lot of glass cabinets on show. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, there really were. And they were beautiful. But, yeah, I mean, how do you differentiate yourself in that market, I wonder? 

Paul Marden: I would differentiate myself by going around and putting my greasy fingers over all the competition’s glass and show how beautiful my cabinets could be. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, just take my children. They’d make a mess of the glass within seconds of arriving. So did you get to any of the talks, any of the presentations? 

Paul Marden: I did, actually, yeah, I saw a few presentations. I thought they were really good this year. It was quite clever being given your headset that you could wear so that you could hear the presenters. Few people that have been in previous years telling me how great that was this time, because that was a new introduction this year. 

Oz Austwick: Can I just throw a slightly different perspective on that? I turned up late to one presentation and I didn’t have the little box and the person who was handing them out was on the other side and couldn’t get. So I missed it completely. Yeah, I mean, it’s a great way to make sure you can hear what’s going on. 

Paul Marden: It’s tough. Isn’t it? I felt it was a little bit. So when I had a similar experience where at one point I didn’t have one, and it feels a little bit. It’s hard, but it answers the problem they’ve had in previous years, where it was the same layout, where it’s a big, noisy hall. And this did make it quite possible for people to be able to hear what was going on. But I would imagine as a speaker on stage, that’s quite tough talking to people when you know they can’t hear your voice. I don’t know. I don’t know how I’d feel about that. But there was one presentation that really stuck in my mind, and that was Spencer Clark from ATS and Steve Dering from Direct Access Consultancy. And they were talking about breaking down barriers and basically just giving a collection of essential accessibility tips for attractions. 

And it was just such a great presentation. I always think that if I’m presenting at an event, if one person walks away, having heard one thing from me, I feel like I’ve kind of done my job. And to be fair to Spencer and Steve, they absolutely nailed that. I walked out of the room at the end of that, fizzing with ideas and walked away. And straight away that evening, I was writing a pitch for a client and things that I’d learned from what they were talking about made it into my pitch presentation. It’s directly changing the way I think about accessibility. So I thought that it was a great achievement.

Oz Austwick: And especially for that specific talk. It’s not just a talk that says, “Oh, you can make some more money, do if you do this, or you can improve your response rate if you do this.” Actually saying, “This is a way you can help people.”

Paul Marden: Yeah. 

Oz Austwick: And that’s now changed the way that Rubber Cheese works and that. What an amazing result for them. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a few things, few numbers that stuck in my mind and I kind of. I went and read about them afterwards and we’ll put some links in the show notes to the survey that these stats are based on. But there was. There’s two things that they said which really stuck in my mind. 59% of disabled people say, if a venue has not shared its disabled access information, I avoid going because I assume it’s inaccessible. And 77% of disabled people say I’m more likely to visit somewhere new if I can find relevant access information about the venue. So these numbers, they caught me straight away and they got me thinking and made me realise that making a venue accessible is more than just meeting the website accessibility guidelines, which is kind of a key focus for us in the industry.

Lots of organisations will want to make sure that they follow the WCAG guidelines, the accessibility guidelines. Anyone that has a large amount of public sector funding will have a statutory obligation to meet those targets. So that’s a big focus of people’s attention. But just making it so that a screen reader can read your website, or making it so that you’ve addressed colour accessibility for people that are colour blind isn’t enough to make the attraction itself accessible. So if you don’t share the content about how your venue is accessible, people will assume you are not accessible. It was an eye opener for me. They gave a really great example. They talked about Skipton Town Hall up in Yorkshire, and they’ve got a webpage on their site all about the accessibility features of the building. And it was rich with photography. 

So, you know, it’s got pictures of all of the access points into the building, what the door looks like and which part of the building it gives level access into. They had pictures of all of the toilets that they’ve got and how they’re accessible. They’re fortunate. They’ve got a changing places toilet. So this is one of these accessible toilets with a large bed and usually with the equipment to be able to move somebody out of a chair and onto a bed to be able to change them. They’ve got photos of all of that on the website. So the accessibility information is right there. It’s really clear and it gives loads of really good evidence that demonstrates this is somewhere that takes accessibility seriously. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. 

Paul Marden: Interestingly, this didn’t come out in the talk itself, but I found it interesting that the Craven Museum is basedhttps://legacy.rubbercheese.com/insights/season-finale-with-bernard-donoghue/ in Skipton Town Hall and they won the most accessible museum and the overall winner of the Family Friendly Museums award last year. And we interviewed them back a couple of weeks ago, back in March. So it kind of shows you that making places more accessible for disabled people makes them more accessible for all sorts of people as well. So, you know, it can make it more accessible for families with young children, it can make it more accessible for the elderly, it can make it more accessible for people with temporary access needs. 

Paul Marden: If you’ve breaking your leg or something like that, you know, you’re not permanently disabled, but you need access into a building and making places more accessible to you for disabled people widens the access into the entire venue itself. I’ve since had a quick look at some of our clients and they’re all writing about this. People are putting lots of information onto their website about this sort of thing. I saw Eureka had a special microsite all about it and Mary Rose have got information on their website about it. So this is really important content. And for me, sitting and listening to them talking, going back and thinking about it is really. It’s really caught my attention and made me think and do things differently, which, you know, I feel like that’s what these sorts of events are all about. Really? 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what a fantastic result for the event. If it opens up the industry to people who were struggling to access it, then, yeah, job done, right? 

Paul Marden: Yeah, completely. What about you? 

Oz Austwick: There were a few highlights for me, but I think one of the things that stood out the most was getting to meet some of the kind of movers and shakers within the community meeting Gordon from ACE, what a lovely guy. Had a fantastic chat to him and it really struck me how there are so many people and organisations who exist within the sector purely to try and improve the whole sector for everybody. I like it anyway because I’ve got a real interest in the historical side of things, museums and stately homes and castles that really talks to me and I take the kids out to places, so it’s nice to know, but to actually be part of an industry where everyone’s trying to help each other, I think is really lovely. 

Paul Marden: It really isn’t it? Yeah. There were so many people like Gordon that you met at the event and they just make you feel good, they make you buzzy. There’s a huge kind of collective recharge of batteries and fizzing of ideas that comes from these sorts of events, it was just brilliant. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. That’s what networking should be, right? 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. I was going to do a shout out for one person that had a stand. I’ve got a card that I picked up. This is a lady called Sonya Varoujian and she runs an organisation called Noor and Katu. They import these handmade crocheted little animals, finger puppets and toys and things. I went straight over to those because my daughter is crocheting like mad. She got taught by grandma a couple of months ago. It blows my mind. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on as she’s doing this and all of a sudden, out the other side comes a squid. But this little organisation Sonia was living and working in Armenia got the idea when she returned back to the UK and now imports these toys and they’re for sale in a bunch of different attractions. 

I just thought it was really lovely that these were fair trade, they were nice, creative things that I know my daughter would absolutely lap up at an organisation and it’s completely sustainable and makes a big difference in communities that are not well served. 

Oz Austwick: Absolutely. And I know that you, like me, almost certainly get dragged into gift shops at visitor attraction sites on a regular basis and there comes a point where you’ve seen the staff and to have a company out there that’s not only doing good things, but providing something a little bit different, a little bit unique that you can buy in a gift shop and actually feel like you’ve done something worthwhile and bought something that isn’t just going to fall apart in a couple of weeks. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. 

Oz Austwick: I think that. Yeah, yeah, it would be really nice to see more things like that. So, yeah, go and check them out if you’re listening or watching. 

Paul Marden: Did you see any talks yourself that  caught your attention? 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, yeah, there were a couple that sprung to them. But firstly, I wanted to just briefly mention the talk that I didn’t get to watch. I’m a YouTuber, not a massively successful one, but I’m part of a YouTube community. So when I saw that the Tank Museum was doing a talk about how they’ve used the YouTube creator community to boost their own social media and their own income, I thought, “Fantastic, I’ll go along and see that.” Because my brother in law, who’s a far more successful YouTuber than I am, was actually part of that.

He got invited down to make a video about his favourite tank. So I turned up and obviously I thought I was on time. I was too late. It was hugely crowded, there was no seats, there was no space. So I was stood in the kind of the corridor. It’s not really. Is it a corridor? The path, the walkway, I don’t know what you call it. And, yeah, got moved on by the venue staff because.

Paul Marden: Loitering in the corridors. 

Oz Austwick: We were effectively blocking the way through. And rightly so, you know, they need to make sure access is maintained. But, yeah, I didn’t get to see that talk, which I was a little bit sad about, but a couple of talks that I did get to see, which stood out, was the Bloomberg panel discussion hosted by Kripa Gurung. They’re doing some amazing work. And the fact that it’s a completely philanthropic organisation, I think is quite amazing if you haven’t come across what Bloomberg are doing with Bloomberg Connects the app. But, yeah, that was really interesting. Talking about what they’re doing, how they’re getting organisations online, having the museum ofat the home and English Heritage there, talking about what they’re doing with Bloomberg Connects was great. 

But I think, if I’m being honest, my favourite talk was the Castle Howard Christmas events talk, partly because it was really interesting, talking about the marketing and how they’ve created this amazing Christmas event that has a real following and people come back year after year and they’ve done that on purpose and it’s been hugely successful. But Abbi from Castle Howard, she’s just hilarious. She’s been a guest a couple of times, talking about how she hospitalised an old man on his very last ever day at work and then how she sacked Santa. Just, yeah, if you get a chance to go and see their talks go along, because it’s not only entertaining but informative, too. So, yeah, that’s probably the highlight for me. 

Paul Marden: Cool. I saw a lovely presentation. Longtime listeners will know that I’m a Kids in Museums trustee. So I went over and watched the Kids in Museums Youth Panel and it was really interesting because they had a summit focused around young people and their needs in museums back last year. They had a webinar where they talked about it a couple of months ago and I was blown away by these people who are part of the Kids in Museums Youth Panel. You know, young people at early stages of their careers, some of them are at uni still. Some of them are in the early stages of their first jobs and just talking so articulately about their experience of museums, what they think museums should change, what’s going well, what could be done better? 

Paul Marden: And so I wasn’t disappointed when I saw them speaking in real life. They did a cracking job talking about the museum summit and what they think are the issues in the museum. So there was a couple of stats I pulled out of it. Over 90% of young people don’t feel considered as an audience and represented in museums, which that blows my mind, because we talk a lot about audience with the people that we work with, and the needs of young people are central to many of the conversations that we have about audience. So there. That made me think, “Oh, is there a problem where the conversations that do get had are not being discussed in the right way? Is it a problem of perception? 

Is it that young people don’t perceive that they’re being considered when in actual fact they are, or is it a lack of involvement and so they feel like it’s being done to them rather than being done with them?” Yeah. Food for thought. If most young people feel that museums don’t consider them as part of their audience, that’s problematic. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, absolutely. Isn’t it? I mean, I’d be amazed if the people that were running the museums had the same opinion. I suspect they clearly think they are doing things for young people and children, but maybe they’re just not asking those young people what they want. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a few things that the youth panel suggested could be done. So loads of kids go on school trips to museums. But have a guess what you think the minimum age is to go unaccompanied into a museum in some museums? 

Oz Austwick: Well, I mean, I’d expect that it would probably be 16. That feels like a reasonable age. 

Paul Marden: There are museums where you have to be 18 to go unaccompanied into the museum. 

Oz Austwick: Why? 

Paul Marden: You can go and get a job, you can go and pay your taxes, but you can’t go into the museums on your own because you’re not a responsible adult. That’s interesting. And I use that word with a great deal of misuse. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. I just struggle to work out how you could justify that. 

Paul Marden: I know. 

Oz Austwick: Well, obviously there are one or two museums out there where you probably need to be 18 to go in and have a look. Yeah. I mean, in general, why 18? 

Paul Marden: Yeah, I think standards of behaviour, you can expect people to behave in a certain way, but that doesn’t. That’s not dependent on age, that’s dependent on your behaviour. 

Oz Austwick: And the sort of teenager that genuinely wants to go into a museum is probably going to behave pretty well when they’re in that museum. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, you’d think. So the next thing I might play into this, but one of the things the youth panel want is to see more youth groups being represented in the decision making process in museums, so that they better represent communities and highlight career pathways for young people. Including more working class histories in museums would help people feel more represented. I thought that was quite interesting. We’ve been to a few recently where we did not necessarily see stories of our background being well presented at the museum. 

Oz Austwick: Yes. 

Paul Marden: Enough for both of us to have noticed it and commented it as we were wandering around. 

Oz Austwick: It’s interesting because some do it really well. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. 

Oz Austwick: And coming from a historical background with a focus on arms and armour, there’s a real issue that the sort of arms and armour that have survived from the mediaeval period are the unusual ones and they’re the ones in the museum. So that’s what people see. And you kind of assume that this fancy, ornate, decorated, enamelled armour is pretty standard, but the bog standard stuff didn’t survive and maybe that’s the issue when you’re looking at furniture in a room, in a house, the fancy furniture is the one that survived because people cared about it. It wasn’t being used on a day to day basis. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. I don’t know, but you’re absolutely right, it does give you a slightly skewed view of what’s actually out there. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. Look, if you’re interested listeners, in finding out more about what the Kids in Museums Youth Panel are looking to achieve, they’ve just published an open letter to changemakers within the sector where they talk passionately about what they think the sector needs to do to change. There’s a lovely video that goes alongside the open letter where these young people are using their voice to be able to advocate for change. It’s great, it’s really interesting and I highly recommend everybody goes and watches the video and reads the letter and then does something about it. 

Oz Austwick: So, anything else from M+H  that we need to talk about? 

Paul Marden: The lovely meal and drinks afterwards. The very lovely Bala McAlin and Stephen Spencer, both once of these parts, were hosting an event Wednesday evening, I think it was, which was absolutely lovely. Well attended. Drinks flowed, food came out. It was delightful. Very much appreciated. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. And I have very mixed feelings about the fact that I decided to leave a little bit early. 

Paul Marden: But you got home at a reasonable time and I didn’t manage to drag my backside in the front door until about half midnight. And it wasn’t because I had a wonderful night, it was because I spent most of it in Waterloo station trying to get home. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. A bit of an issue with the train. 

Paul Marden: Yes. I would much preferred if I’d actually stayed at the drinks event and then dragged myself into Waterloo later once they’d actually sorted themselves out. 

Oz Austwick: So I think at this point we probably need to talk about how the government have ruined our plans for the next few months of podcast content. 

Paul Marden: Yes.

Oz Austwick: Because we’ve been thinking for a little while that it would be a really nice thing to do to talk to the main political parties about their idea for the visitor attraction industry in the future. And obviously our hands been forced a little bit. 

Paul Marden: It hasn’t it? We’re not the only ones. I think quite a few people were caught on the hop a little bit when Rishi announced the general election on the 4th of  July. So, yeah, events, dear boy, have somewhat overtaken us, haven’t they? 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, just a little. So, yeah, we’re probably not going to do that if for no other reason that the Labour Party shadow minister isn’t standing again, for all the right reasons. But it does mean that there’s a bit of an imbalance there and if we can’t talk to all the parties equally and get their ideas, we probably shouldn’t talk to any of them. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. 

Oz Austwick: That being said, we can still talk about it, right?

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. The lovely people at ALVA Bernard, who presented at M+H and talked about this very subject, amongst other things, they’ve done a lot of policy work and have prepared some thoughts around what they think is important to the sector, around strengthening the visitor economy, protecting arts and culture and heritage and supporting the natural environment, whilst at the same time looking after all of those people that either work or give up their time to support the sector. So, yeah, there’s a few things in there that I thought it was worth us just touching on, because I think it’s really important that we think about what the future of the sector could look like in just a very few weeks time as the country changes. They’ve got some interesting thoughts. 

Oz Austwick: Unsurprisingly, the sector would probably benefit from some reduced taxation and there’s quite a number of different areas within which ALVA think that the taxation burden on the sector could be lessened. And similarly, they’ve also got ideas around how funding for the various arts councils and support organisations around the different home nations would make a substantial difference, especially around capital funding would make a big difference to the sector. But there was a few very specific arts which jumped out as me, as being kind of. They really meant something to me. So there’s one. ALVA says, “They ask all the political parties to ensure culture, life, performance, arts, heritage and nature are experienced by every child and young person and are within the national curriculum.” Yeah, I think this is so important. Yeah, I think I’ve talked on the podcast before. 

Paul Marden: This was one of the big COVID victims. So many schools during COVID had to stop taking kids out and experiencing the outside world and going to day trips and the like. And I just. I think it is so important. It’s really hard for many schools. They’ve got such a burden around meeting the curriculum, budget cuts, all of the calls on the staff time is so hard for them to prioritise day trips. But I’ve seen him in my own daughter’s school. Just the powerful impact it has on the kids.

They’re a school where the kids barely spend a whole week in class. They’re usually out doing something outside of school, which I just think is brilliant. And I got to tag along with them. A few months ago. We went to London. We did the trip to the Science Museum, took the kids up on the train and on the tube, which was, let me tell you, quite scary. 

Oz Austwick: Did you manage to bring them all back? 

Paul Marden: Counted them in and counted them out and it was all good. It was all good. But then went into parliament and that was just brilliant. Taking a bunch of ten and eleven year olds into parliament and bless them, it was the tail end of the day. So they were all shattered. But they were so completely engaged by it. They saw Priti Patel walking through the central lobby. They saw all of these different ministers, their advisors, and they got to sit in the chamber of the House of Commons and seeing debate going on. It was all about Horizon scandal. It was just. It was such a brilliant day trip for the kids and how much does it enrich them.

Yeah, okay, me and Millie go to these places all the time, but, you know, there might be one or two kids in that school for whom this is the only time that they get to experience a day trip into London and see one of the big national museums and go in and enjoy parliament. I never got to go into parliament when I was Millie’s age. 

Oz Austwick: No. And I think it’s really important to say that. I mean, both you and I live in the southeast of the country in a relatively rural and affluent area and that even here with the schools that we’ve got, they’re struggling to do this. And then when you look at what the inner city schools are having to deal with and some of the northern cities and northern towns where they’re really struggling with population poverty up there, how are those kids getting similar opportunities? 

Paul Marden: Yeah. 

Oz Austwick: And the fact is they’re not. 

Paul Marden: No, no. 

Oz Austwick: And that’s something that I can’t agree with ALVA more on this, that this needs to be prioritised because this is the future. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. Another area where we’ve had direct experience, from conversations we’ve been having recently is around supporting local authorities in their care of civic collections and culture. I mean, you’ve spoken to so many places recently, haven’t you, where cultural budgets are just being eviscerated. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I’ve always had a kind of a love of finding those little obscure rural town museums because you find some amazing things in them. My local museum, it’s a tiny little market town and they’ve got like a special area of Egyptian relics. They’ve got a mummy in a sarcophagus in this little museum that’s what, four rooms? But they’ve got no funding. And there’s so many times we’re talking to museums like this. They know what they need and they know what they want, but they just don’t have the money to be able to do it. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. 

Oz Austwick: They come to us looking for a website and they’re just struggling for budget to do anything. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, which is where things like that Bloomberg Connect app comes in, because when you look on the Bloomberg Connect site, you’ve got big national museums like National Portrait Gallery in there using the Connect app. But there were some little ones in there as well that I saw, you know, small local town museums just like the ones that you’re describing in there using that app. 

Oz Austwick: I was looking through the app last night and my eye was caught by, I think it was Beverly Town Hall. I was born in Beverley, up in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and I sort of thought, “Oh, I’ll have a look at that.” And I just got drawn in and it was just this amazing experience. I didn’t even know Beverley had a town hall that was open to the public, nevermind that had a collection that you could view through the Bloomberg Connect app. So, yeah, I guess maybe a little bit more in the way of awareness, but it shouldn’t be down to a philanthropic organisation like Bloomberg to keep these museums and collections going. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. So look, the ALVA kios of the political parties is up there on their main website. Really worth going and looking at. As the manifestos are published, you’ll be able to see what the political parties are doing. There’s already some information on the various different party websites around what they want to do within the culture and tourism sectors. But I think we’ve got a few weeks yet to wait until we see the actual cast iron commitments come out in manifestos. So that’ll be interesting to see the direction that takes. 

Oz Austwick: And I suspect we’re going to talk about this a little bit more over the next few episodes, perhaps. 

Paul Marden: Yeah, maybe. The other thing I will mention, this is a shameless plug because I work as a trustee at Kids in Museums. We’re working on this flagship awards ceremony and it is absolutely delightful event lots of people enjoying themselves doing amazing work and there is a sponsorship opportunity. So if you’re like us, one of those kind of sector supporting organisations that serve the attraction sector, and you’d like to support the good work of Kids in Museums and be associated with that amazing event, give me a shout, because I can point you in the direction of the right people to talk to get that sponsorship in place and I know it will make a massive difference to them. Have you been busy recently? What have you been up to? 

Oz Austwick: Do you know what? Weirdly, it’s been a little bit busy. Yeah. I mean it feels like it’s always a little bit busy, but it’s been specifically a little bit busy because as of yesterday we’ve launched the third annual Rubber Cheese Visitor Attraction Website Survey

Paul Marden: Excellent. 

Oz Austwick: That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? It’d be really nice to find a catchier name for it than that. 

Paul Marden: I always talk about naming is the hardest problem in computing, but naming is the hardest problem in marketing, I think. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah, let’s be honest, what it’s actually known is pretty much new survey brackets two. So it’s the third one. The first one was a bit of an eye opener, the fact that there wasn’t anything already out there and we did this and it was amazing. The second one, we tried to refine it and we got some really nice, interesting data. This is probably the first time we’ve been able to sit and look at it and go, “Right, okay, now we’ve got a couple of years worth of results. We can look at what we actually need to be asking and what’s just out there because we want to ask, because it’s interesting and what information we’re not actually getting.”

So we’ve really cut back on the number of questions and I think it’s probably safe to say that isn’t going to have a massive impact on the quality of the information that we get, but it’s also allowed us to add in a few extra little bits as well. So yeah, we’re talking about sustainability and the use of AI and yeah, I’m really excited. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. 

Oz Austwick: I haven’t actually looked to see if people have started filling it. 

Paul Marden: I can’t look, I can’t look. I just kind of want to look through my fingers. 

Oz Austwick: I’m not sure I want to know, but yeah. So if you are listening to this, if you’ve got this far into the podcast and you work at a visitor attraction, please go and fill this in. There’s a link in the show notes. There’s links on LinkedIn, on X. Everywhere we go. There will be a link for this. And if you can’t find it, go to rubbercheese.com. And it’s right there at the top of the homepage. There’s a link. 

Paul Marden: Yeah. rubbercheese.com/survey, slip that right in there. 

Oz Austwick: Yeah. I think one of the things we’ve done differently is the advisory board. We talked about this a little bit in the last episode. We did what an amazing thing to have these guys on board. I think they’ve saved us months of work by just being clever. 

Paul Marden: They’ve improved the quality of what we’ve done. Asking us, what on earth are you asking that question for? Those answers are exactly the same answer. Can’t you make it easier for me to know what I need to gather before I type my data in? 

Oz Austwick: Exactly, saying, “Oh, well, I wouldn’t fill it in because you don’t tell me what I need to do.” Okay, well, we’ll do that. It’s not a problem. Yeah. How amazing. So thank you to them and to Expian for sponsoring the advisory board

Paul Marden: Yeah, absolutely. And we’re working through now focusing on the kind of engagement plan to increase more people. And then, you know, whilst we have a lull as people are going to be filling in their survey, we’ll start planning, looking at the data, seeing where the stories lie. We’ll talk about that in some future episodes, but starting to gather together what the final report looks like and the stories that will be told. And, you know, we’re really grateful to Convious for sponsoring us on the digital survey and the digital report that will follow and then a bunch of webinars that will run afterwards. So, you know, the call to action for us is get in there, find your data, read the guidance notes, go and fill in the survey. 

Paul Marden: But then once you’ve done that, come and talk to us because, you know, we’d love to know what you would like us to dig in to. It is amazing how this rich resource of data that we’ve got and people ask us questions that we’ve never even thought of, and we look at the data differently and we find a different story in there. So without your input, without you telling us what’s interesting you, with what’s bothering you, what’s challenging you, we don’t look at the data properly and we don’t find those stories for you. So come and talk to us. 

Oz Austwick: Is this how it feels to kind of run a museum, to be the custodian of this amazing thing and just want people to come and engage with it. Yes, because that’s kind of it. You know, we’ve got this amazing data and it’s got all of these wonderful stories within it that are relevant to anyone in the industry and we just want to talk about it. So, yeah, please fill in the survey, talk to us about it and, yeah, with any luck, this one will be bigger and better than the last two. 

Paul Marden: There we go. Couldn’t ask for more than that, could we? 

Oz Austwick: No. Before we go, because we’re going to wrap up relatively soon, there’s one thing that I noticed that we failed to do last time and we talk a lot about giving away a book and I think we even said we were giving away a book in the last episode and then never mentioned a book. So, Paul, do you have a book that you’d like to recommend? 

Paul Marden: Do you know what, Oz? It’s funny you should say that. I absolutely do. I have this book Delivering the Visitor Experience by also previously of these parts, Rachel Mackay, who is, I believe, at Hampton Court Palace, and she’s written an amazing book about what it is to create, manage and develop unforgettable visitor experiences at museums. I don’t want a museum, but it was really interesting for me to be able to read this book all about the process that people that do run museums go through to develop, craft and tell that story and give that amazing experience. It’s a brilliant book. Heartily recommend it. And if you retweet the show note saying, “I want Paul’s book”, then you too could get an amazing copy of Delivering the Visitor Experience by our friend Rachel Mackay. 

Oz Austwick: Amazing. Thanks very much. 

Paul Marden: Slightly out of breath because it will be edited out, I’m sure, but I had to run up the corridor and go find the book and take it off the shelf and bring it down because although I was completely organised with all my stuff from M+H show, did not have my book recommendation. Well, there you go. I think that just about wraps us up, doesn’t it? It’s been a busy few weeks for us with M+H show and all that’s going on and that doesn’t look to abate over the next few months as we get the survey into shape and find out what’s happening in the sector. 

Oz Austwick: So I think it’s only going to get busier. 

Paul Marden: It is. How is this your first time actually hosting? 

Oz Austwick: I think I prefer this one. Maybe that’s because it’s not my first one. Or maybe it’s just because I. 

Paul Marden: Because you’re power hungry and you took the captain’s chair. 

Oz Austwick: Make it so. Yeah, definitely Picard rather than Kirk. But that’s because he’s a West Yorkshire man. 

Paul Marden: Is he really? You’ve got too much hair to be Picard. I’m sorry.

Oz Austwick: I’m not wearing my Star Trek uniform.

Paul Marden: On that bombshell. Thank you very much, mate. 

Oz Austwick: Thank you. 



Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.



Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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