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Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes - partnership in action


Since 2012, the South East Museum Development Programme has been supporting collaboration in the Isle of Wight's heritage sector via the Isle of Wight Museums Forum. The forum has gone from strength to strength and in 2016, six of the member museums, together with the island's Quay Arts Centre, secured and amazing £100,000 from Arts Council England's Museums Resilience Fund for a major collaborative project. The project has two strands, strategy work that is ongoing and a major, shared audience development campaign.

What are the Project aims?

The ‘Hidden Heroes…’ project has been devised to be:

  • a particularly flexible (and cost effective) vehicle for deepening audience engagement
  • produce branding that allows for the re-invention / re-interpretation of existing assets
  • provide opportunities for engagement with new and under-represented communities

The detailed content of 'Hidden Heroes' was scheduled for year 2 of the Resilience-funded project and deliberately left unprescribed  in order that stakeholder engagement and consultatation carried out in the first year could inform and enrich it.

How is the project being delivered?

To get fresh perspectives into the project, a diverse team of engagement specialists was commissioned to be responsible for the production and delivery, alongside the Partners, of a Marketing / Activity Plan for Hidden Heroes.

The engagement specialists are;

  • Media/PR experts On the Wight
  • Creative arts hub Ventnor Exchange
  • Writer and educationalist Philip Bell

So that the Hidden Heroes campaign would re-introduce residents to the incredible collection of museums and galleries on the Isle of Wight and strengthen a sense of pride of place, the engagement team supported each of the partner museums to identify a 'Hidden Hero' whose story would intrigue and connect with people across the island and could be illuminated through their collections or displays.

The seven Hidden Heroes now form the basis of a diverse and growing programme of events and exhibitions, scheduled to continue into Spring 2017.

The programme of activities is linked by shared marketing infrastructure and brand assets, including the IWHiddenHeroes website and Twitter account. There are downloadable toolkits, logos and brand guidelines so that others on the island can add their own events and exhibitions to the campaign, either focusing on the original seven Hidden Heroes or adding their own. A briefing event introduced the campaign and its resources to the wider community of heritage and arts organisations, in advance of the public launch.

In parallel, the engagement team provided tools and training to the partner organisations, helping them to collect audience data in a standardised way, to make marketing efforts more effective and to support impact evaluation.

The campaign was launched to the public during the 2017 Autumn half term. We'll be updating this case study over the winter to share emerging learning from it.