Muse Projects

Muse Projects delivers an immersive, multi-sensory experience called Dialogue in the Dark with a goal to employ blind and partially sighted people and raise awareness of their experiences in the community. The CIDF loan will be used to evolve and adapt its immersive, multi-sensory experience for a post-Covid operating environment.

Muse Projects

Region: London
Discipline: Other (non-museum exhibition)
Investment Size £50,000

The Organisation

Muse Projects is a community interest company with a mission to support the inclusion and participation of disabled and marginalised people in society. Using arts, culture and science as its foundation, Muse Projects employs blind and partially sighted people to guide participants through an immersive, multi-sensory exhibition called Dialogue in the Dark. Set in total darkness, participants navigate a simulation of London locations such as Victoria Park, Mare Street Market and London Transport by sound and touch alone. Muse Projects’ goal is to bring awareness to the mainstream public about the daily experiences of blind and partially sighted people and to encourage more creative and expansive thinking as a result of the exhibition. The organisation also delivers specialised workshops, based on the Dialogue in the Dark experience, for schools and corporations. These specialised workshops encourage participants to reflect on working and learning conditions for those with disabilities.

The Opportunity

In early 2020, Muse Projects and CIDF began early-stage conversations about refreshing the exhibition space and investing in marketing capacity to increase ticket sales. However, by March 2020, Muse Projects was forced to cease operations due to the impact of the Covid epidemic. Like many arts and culture organisations, the resulting pause in delivery increased the organisation’s need for investment to resume trading activities.

In the summer of 2020, Muse Projects approached CIDF with a request for a £50,000 loan to fund the upfront costs to refresh the exhibition content, implement new marketing campaigns, and renovate the exhibition space to adapt Dialogue in the Dark for a post-Covid environment and audience. Without additional investment to fast-track advertising, marketing and content development, the organisation risked being unable to reopen, or reopening without sufficient demand or adequate measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors, staff, and guides.

The Process

While the Dialogue in the Dark experience and the management team had a great deal of experience curating the exhibition globally, specifically in Turkey, th

e London iteration had only been operating for one and a half years before the Covid epidemic hit. Effectively a start-up venture at the time of due diligence, it was a learning experience for both the management team producing financial forecasts and the CIDF team assessing risks around the forecasts given the unprecedented uncertainty for museums and exhibition spaces after months of closures.

Alongside the due diligence process, Muse Projects received support from CIDF to identify areas for development regarding the organisation’s approach to monitoring and evaluating its social impact. Muse Projects is also working closely with sustainability consulting firm S360 to develop its Theory of Change and impact management frameworks.

The Impact

Muse Projects’ pathway to impact encompasses training and employment opportunities for blind and partially sighted people and raising awareness of their experience among mainstream audiences. Muse Projects trains and employs a number of blind and partially sighted people as tour guides for the exhibition and supports them to develop skills such as improved communication skills, career motivation, self-confidence, self-esteem, family relationships, and finances. Additionally, Muse Projects identifies opportunities for guides to progress internally to administrative roles and they receive financial support for personal and professional development.

While the exhibition space was closed due to Covid, Muse Projects took the opportunity to expand its brand and mission, recently partnering with All Press, La Marzocco, and the London Borough of Lambeth to deliver a British Sign Language Cafe where customers interact with deaf and hard of hearing baristas. The organisation also launched a platform for emerging and disabled artists in the local area to display their artwork in both the cafe and the exhibition space.

 

Image credits: Image 3: Jerry Dobson, all other images courtesy of Dialogue in the Dark