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Client Case Study

Black Cultural Archives

Business and Management Options Appraisal

Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is a national institution dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of diverse people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain. BCA is a £6m HF funded restoration of a Georgian House in the heart of Brixton on Windrush Square, which opened in the new premises in 2014. However, BCA had increasingly become financially unsustainable, with growing losses and was not achieving the original HF project business plan.

Appointed by the London Borough of Lambeth and BCA, BJA conducted a business options appraisal, looking at the options in terms of the use of spaces, operating model, trustee skill mix and governance, costs and income and expenditure projections. The focus was on charges for temporary exhibitions, donations and gift aid, catering (including management options and commercial partnerships), retail and venue hire and being much more realistic with relation to grants and fundraising.


The approach was to develop a strategy so that BCA was much less reliant upon sponsorship and fundraising and more focused on maximising visitor numbers, marketing, the customer experience and the trading income potential.

The project included a comprehensive comparator exercise, market research and internal review. The report:

  • Provided clear recommendations as to the configuration and use of space.

  • Identified the commercial and funding potential and how this can be achieved, including the financials and the primary income and expenditure assumptions.

  • Developed a new marketing and income generation strategy.

  • Developed a new, more realistic and financially sustainable business plan.

  • Identified how the service and customer experience could be enhanced further, and changes needed to achieve a self-sustaining operation, including a new operating model and an implementation plan.

  • Changes to the Trustee skills mix, governance approach, ways of working and fundraising approach.

Since then, BCA has implemented a new operating model, improved the BCA Board skill mix, reduced staffing and non-staffing costs significantly, income generation more than doubled in less than 18 months.

Subsequently, BJA was appointed and completed a catering management options appraisal for BCA and conducted the catering tendering exercise.


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