The Current State of EXARC
EXARC’s mission is to make the archaeological past widely accessible. It does this through creating opportunities for researchers and practitioners to collaborate, exchange information, and share best practices in archaeological open-air museums, experimental archaeology research, educational and presentational tools and demonstrations of cultural heritage. EXARC’s mission includes facilitating both research and education. Our goal is to bring people together and make them more professional.
EXARC has four themes: Ancient Technology, Experimental Archaeology, Interpretation / education and Museum Practice. EXARC has four target groups: Museums, Higher Education Centres, Organisations and Individuals (working in the fields connected to our themes). We help our members to be in dialogue with their visitors, so they can reflect on the past to learn for the present.
EXARC connects people - is a bridge between open-air museums and science. By sharing the knowledge - together, with all different backgrounds, we are stronger. Together we can make an important contribution to society. EXARC is an open and inclusive network. The organisation is fluid and adaptable to what occurs.
Initiative 1: Sustainable Membership Growth
1.1 Where are EXARC’s Potential Members?
People we want to attract are people who (besides affinity with archaeology / the past) are pre-eminently willing to work internationally (and speak English), want to learn more, make contacts, seek information for their replicas (other articles, sources, materials etc.) or want to publish their article. Many people stay away from us because their English is not good enough, or because they don't need us.
Organisations with members who could be interested in EXARC are contacted regularly, courting membership from associations/networks, higher education, and events improvement is possible.
Point of attention: Courting younger membership
EXARC membership represents a diverse cross-section of individual circumstances, and as such can provide support to members regardless of their professional level. An estimate of the average age of individual members is 48, which reveals that the organisation risks missing the needs and experiences of younger members, particularly the ‘next generation’ of EXARC membership. This particularly includes younger individuals who may be at early stages of craft skills acquisition, BA-level study, or in their first position in archaeological open-air museums.
Benefits of actively courting younger membership:
- Greater possibilities for active membership: student-created groups are typical of many university experiences, for example. EXARC could facilitate channelling this energy into a wider community than a single university or college campus.
- Stronger relationships between academic and non-academic individual members at earlier points in their careers: An active community which exposes these groups to one another can improve the quality of members’ individual work by expanding their opportunities for collaboration.
- Greater potential duration of active membership: encouraging active membership from a younger age may increase the overall duration of memberships. This longer-term relationship can translate into a stronger sense of ‘buying in’ to EXARC as an organisation and investing in its success.
1.2 Membership: What we currently offer
EXARC supports Open and Free Access. By becoming a member, one is part of a large network and supports the vision of EXARC. With the financial support of our members, EXARC can actively make a difference and help members and others with their requests. Besides that, members receive amongst others discounted access to conferences, and museums, the annual Journal and a presence on the EXARC website.
Initiative 2: Stable and Transferable Management
2.1 Retain Stability in the EXARC Board & Volunteers
EXARC is a more proactive and creative semi-professional organisation than others in the field.
The secretariat consists of a director 1 FTE (volunteer), followed by the administration / design manager 0.75 FTE (partly paid), and the chief editor 0.2 FTE (volunteer). There are another 30 volunteers in the EXARC Journal and 30 volunteers helping with general work (social media, content and special projects).
We intend to increase the amount of paid staff members to 2 FTE over the period of 10-15 years, so it will be easier to find people who would like to take it over.
Volunteers are divided in teams where they work on different subjects, from updating the website to digitisation or helping with podcast. The Journal volunteers are supervised by chief editor. With each project where volunteers are involved we keep in mind how it can benefit them, and what can EXARC offer extra, like gift cards, training, meetings or discounts to conferences, as well as a volunteer of the year award.
2.2 Office and Internal Restructuring
Our most important priority is that EXARC should grow from the founding group towards a new generation, through consolidation and professionalisation, but not become too cold. Having office space as of 2020 is the first step. That has proven to raise our credibility among members, volunteers and stakeholders.
2.3 EXARC Board
The Board functions mainly as an advisory to the Secretariat; they do not execute tasks by themselves or carry any responsibility apart from being financially responsible. Internal communication between the Board and the Secretariat is effective:
- The Director is in contact with the Chair / Vice Chair;
- The Bookkeeper is in contact with the Treasurer;
- The Secretariat emails the Board when needed;
- There are about 3 online Board meetings and one IRL Board meeting per year.
Initiative 3: Rich Communication Networks
3.1 Digital publicity & Online Communication (annual growth of 25-30%)
EXARC members should feel part of EXARC, not only when they meet IRL, but also in regular life, meaning EXARC should offer more possibilities for virtual contact between the members. This is partly achieved with the website, the online Journal and the Social media, which are both for members and non-members, but also with EXARC new activities for example Podcast (started in 2020). We have the tools, team and experience to organise conferences or other events online, including possibilities for broadcasting and interaction, reaching more and more varied audiences than at real life events.
The EXARC Journal has increased in popularity, both from readers (about 50,000 readers in 2019) as well as from authors (about 80 articles published in 2019).
The website (about 400,000 views in 2019) promotes our members (with their profiles and events), the association itself and has many resources for people interested in our four themes.
EXARC is highly visible on social media (about 30,000 subscribers in 2019), mainly on Facebook & Twitter.
3.2 In-Person Communication / Conferences
The number of opportunities for EXARC members to meet in person is high, both self-organised and co-hosted conferences. EXARC Board Members and the Secretariat should be visible at these meetings. We also need to follow up after every meeting with the EXARC members involved.
Meetings in person have important benefits, and for that reason EXARC organises conferences. However, EXARC is also aware that organising and attending a conference leaves a footprint, and we all carry a responsibility in minimising the negative effects on our environment and society of our actions. We embrace the internet and social media, where we have a strong presence as well to share what we do, to help others to become better by means of digital ways.
There is a lot of personal contact between members and the Team.
3.3 Direct Mailing
With our EXARC Journal Digest we promote EXARC and its Journal across members, stakeholders and participants at our conferences (also those which we co-organise). We find it important to share our stories and message also in the form of a printed journal.
Initiative 4: Going Digital with and for our Members
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights a need which has been growing over time but has not been addressed systematically. There is a growing expectation of open information sharing online, in ever-richer formats. EXARC has IT-knowledgeable membership as well as ample data for digitisation among individual and institutional members, and is well placed to provide, at minimum, best practice guidelines to membership regarding digitisation and attaining open access. Beyond this conservative goal, EXARC could stretch to work with its museum members who rely on open travel for sustainable visitor numbers to create linked repositories of virtual experiences.
Initiative 5: Sustainable Development Goals
Following the global initiative to plan for the future with a sustainable vision, EXARC is embracing the Sustainable Development Goals initiative put forward by the United Nations. For us, this means inspiring and supporting our members into adopting this lifestyle within their own organisation as well as becoming an example by adapting internally.
Initiative 6: Financial Maintenance
6.1 Balancing operating costs with membership fees
We intended to reach the point where EXARC’s daily business would be covered by membership dues, and other income (conferences and cooperation projects) would be used for extra activities and improvements. Due to Covid-19, we believe it will take longer to reach this phase. Also our budget is changing rapidly from being mostly membership-fee-based into 50-50 with projects like digital meetings, conferences, EU- and other grants. That means that our regular expenses are / will be also covered by annual recurring projects.
6.2 Conferences and organised events (incl. digital events)
With the conferences EXARC is involved with, we generated between 1,000 and 5,000 EUR income per year. These include our own meetings as well as conferences by others we support. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have more online conferences, which include interactive sessions and more income possibilities.
6.3 More Income from (EU / Grants) Projects
Working with the EU, we need to have a very broad palette of applicants (partly non-EXARC members) and fit the EU goals better than in the past. Projects must be cost-effective and possibly bring in profits and be interesting in terms of content.
With projects, we show what we can provide and who we are, we make contacts and do a bit more than usual. The gain is not always monetary, but projects should be at least cost neutral.
6.4 Offering Services to Members and other Organisations
Due to COVID-19 we have become successful in offering (online) services. Every service we offer fits within EXARC goals and missions, including Open Access for everybody.
Projects must be able to answer three main questions before they can be prioritised: