The New Today


History, heritage and culture in Grenada – The business of museums

As Grenada begins to explore the economic gains of having a cultural and creative industry, there is an urgent need to look at the business model of museums in Grenada. A good business model is important to make a museum sustainable, and less reliant on government subvention. A museum is one of the easiest avenues to earn revenue from tourists and visitors to the island.

Having an online portal that would allow tourists and visitors to purchase a pass or ticket before their arrival to the island is important to tap into that market. In this way, as part of the trip planning process, tourists or diaspora visitors can purchase tickets.

Opportunities to offer “Day at a museum” pass or a pass specific to a particular historic showcase can be done. Marketing and advertising of the passes would be critical, in addition to working with the local tourism authority, hoteliers and guest house owners to ensure awareness of the offering.

In terms of the local market, the natural route is one of membership. The most common form of membership is annual memberships offered to family households. In this way, a family can purchase an annual membership of limited or even unlimited visits to the museum throughout the year.

Museums sell memberships to the public or corporate sponsors can purchase memberships and giveaway according to their customer base. For example, a banking institution may purchase memberships for a specific group of customers as an added incentive for retaining their business.

Either way, a large percentage of revenue is generated through membership revenue. Memberships provide a steady and reliable stream of revenue. The main responsibility would be for the museum to continue to grow memberships, year over year.

A third source of revenue for museums is leasing. Leasing space to creatives provides another source of revenue to museums. Creatives such as artists and artisans are often looking for space to produce their creative works. This can extend to visiting artists who may want to come to Grenada for an artist residency to use the island as an inspiration for artistic production or writing.

Leasing space to creatives provides monthly cash flow to museums. Most museums have extra space that is not being used. Instead of sitting on unused space, the solution would be to lease the space to creatives.

Important would be to advertise and market the available space within the artists and writing communities locally, regionally or internationally. Another indirect result is that the museum can leverage the creative in collaborations such as art shows at the museum, book launches or theatre performances at the museum and earn a percentage of the sales generated from such shows.

A fourth source of revenue for the museum is to hold seminars and workshops put on by subject matter experts. Participants pay a fee to take part in the seminar or workshop. Depending on the topic, the seminar or workshop can attract regional or even international participants. Opportunity for participants to access the seminar or workshop virtually should also be explored.

Lastly, museums earn money through international grant funding. Grant funding can be provided to museums for depiction of displays with cultural and historic significance aimed at promotion and preservation.

UNESCO is one example of a grant funder who may fund museums under this funding stream. The Prince Claus fund can also fund individual cultural practitioners to produce displays that can be made available and accessible at the museum for patrons.

Other marginal revenues can be earned through a gift shop where local products and souvenirs are sold to visitors to the museum. A photo booth where visitors can take photos as memoirs is another easy revenue earner.

Future looking, museums can earn revenues through virtual displays using 360-degree technology, augmented and virtual reality experiences. The concept here is that people around the world can experience the museum wherever they are. In this way, museums can contribute to the generation of revenue through export of history and heritage.

With the Grenada National Museum set to reopen in the coming weeks, after a prolonged stint of closure, it would be interesting to see the business model employed to sustain the museum under the new Cultural and Creative industry in Grenada.

As well, more investments in museums in other parishes in Grenada, rich in culture and heritage is a business opportunity primed for Diaspora investment.

The Rome Museum in St. Andrew’s is privately owned and is in dire need of capital investment and proper infrastructure. The Rome Museum consists of a lot of artifacts that need to be protected from weather elements for longevity.

The Carriacou museum is in better shape, but also needs some capital investment and to be expanded to create a living museum element to feature local culture such as Quadrille, Big drum dancing and Shakespeare mas.

The parish of St. Andrew’s or St. Patrick’s are rich in culture and heritage and there is the potential to display the culture and heritage in a living museum. A living museum provides a real experience of culture and heritage in real time to visitors.

Experiences such as folk dancing, drumming, and local food preparation. It can also extend to depicting experiences of past that are of historic significance such as the Grenada Revolution 1979 to 1983, Sky Red 1951 or independence of 1974. This can be done in the form of a historical theatrical performance at the museum.

There exists a lot of innovation that can be done with museums to make it attractive for both visitors and locals alike. In turn, the museum can become a value add to the tourism product, and earn revenue for both the museum and the Government of Grenada.

Christell Simeon is a business owner of Island learning Grenada which educates on Grenada’s history, heritage and culture and is registered under the Cultural and Creative industry in Grenada