Northern pioneers: TWAM receives funding to support Great Exhibition events
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums £813k to transform the Great North Museum Hancock ahead of the Great Exhibition of the North. There will be reinvigorated displays and new loans, alongside a public programme of events and performances. The public will also have an opportunity to work with technological, art and history experts to create an installation on Northern pioneers. The Great North Museum will also be hosting Stephenson’s Rocket on loan from the Science Museum. The Great Exhibition is taking place from 22nd June to 9th September 2018, and is expected to draw millions of visitors to Newcastle-Gateshead. HLF
HLF supports National Museum of Scotland’s Egypt and Asia galleries
The £80m renovation of the National Museum of Scotland has now reached its fourth and final stage, with new galleries for its ancient Egyptian and Asian collections. The HLF has just announced that it will contribute £1.07m towards the £3.3m work. This will support the display of 1,200 works, 40% of which have not been displayed in a generation. New spaces, not previously open to the public, will also be opened up by 2019. The museum hopes to raise a further £1m still needed to complete the galleries through private sources. History Scotland, STV
National Railway Museum Shildon moves to full control of Science Museum Group
The National Railway Museum Shildon is to come under full control of the Science Museum Group from 1st December, having previously been co-run with Durham City Council. Practical outcomes include the movement of several staff to the SMG payroll, SMG receiving the lease of the buildings for a peppercorn rent, and an SMG trustee sitting on the museum’s board. However, the council remains committed to the museum’s long term development and will continue to provide roughly half of its operating budget. Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for tourism on Durham Council said “Locomotion currently attracts around 200,000 visitors each year and over the past 13 years has exceeded all our initial expectations. However, it is now clear that if the museum is to continue to grow and expand its audience, some changes are needed to the way in which it operates.” Museums Journal
£4.7m to restore D-Day landing craft and ‘former nightclub’
An original D-Day landing craft will be restored after The D-Day museum in Portsmouth, an affiliate of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, received a £4.7m grant from HLF for the work. LCT 7074 was the only one of 800 specially designed landing craft to survive after the 1960s. NMRN’s project director Nick Hewitt says "she was operating as a fairly notorious riverfront nightclub on Merseyside. The tank deck was the dance floor." The ship was allowed to corrode and sink in 2010 before being raised from Birkenhead Docks in 2014. It will be completely taken apart during the restoration work, then reassembled and conserved. 40 volunteers and two apprentices will assist conservators. The engine room, crew accommodation and officer shower and galley will be restored. Finally, it will become home to the museum’s two tanks and at the centre of a new exhibition on the Royal Navy, and how its crews coped during D-Day. The D-Day museum itself is currently undergoing major restoration and will reopen in 2018, ahead of major commemorations of D-Day’s 75th anniversary in 2019. ALVA, BBC, HLF
Tate reports highest number of visitors ever with the opening of Blavatnik building
Tate’s annual report records that Tate Modern received over 1 million visitors in the first month following the opening of its new Blavatnik building in June 2016, and 6.4m over the year. Over all four Tate sites there were 8.4m visitors, a record number. Tate Exchange, a project which invited the public to contribute to events and workshops at Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool, attracted 230,000 people in its first year, many of whom had never previously visited a gallery. Tate
Images this month come from Museums Sheffield's new exhibition 'Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship - English Artist Designers 1922 - 42'. Watercolours and wood engravings from the group bridge the gap between fine art and design. The exhibition highlights women artists in Ravilious' circle who have previously been overlooked. The exhibition runs from 7th October - 7th January. Museums Sheffield
Civilisations update – sign up to become a partner
The BBC has launched the signing up process for museums which would like to become part of the Civilisations Festival, from 2nd – 11th March 2018. 100 organisations have already expressed an interest and will be sent a link, or you can sign up directly here. A Welsh language page is in preparation and there are plans for workshops on digital aspects of the programme in London, Manchester, Bristol, York, Scotland and Wales during October and November (some of these dates are still being confirmed; signed up museums will receive full details as they are arranged). You can read a fuller account of all the planned aspects of this major festival on the NMDC website here. Civilisations sign-up, BBC
TV production company seeks museums to participate in BBC Two series
Factual TV production company Alleycats TV is seeking museums interested in participating in a new TV series for BBC2. It will look at the creative ways museums are making use of their collections and reinventing their approaches to appeal more deeply to visitors. Alleycats previously developed successful programmes including Timewatch and Digging for Britain. Topics of interest extend to the whole cycle of museum activity, from how museums diversify income streams, engage with volunteers, manage risk, develop projects and exhibitions and attract visitors. Interested museums are invited to get in touch with Alleycats TV as soon as possible. AIM
BBC Four’s ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ uncovers a Rubens at Glasgow Museums
Art historians and conservators working for the BBC Four programme ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’ have revealed that a painting of George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, is by Rubens and not a copy as previously thought. The work is held by Glasgow Museums and is currently on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery. After removing layers of dirt and overpainting and dating the wood on which the picture was painted, experts have now agreed on the attribution. The sitter, Villiers, was famously the lover of James I. Presenter Dr Bendor Grosvenor whose initial guess led to the research said “the chance to discover a portrait of such a pivotal figure in British history by one of the greatest artists who ever lived has been thrillingly exciting. I hope it inspires many people to visit Glasgow's museums, some of the finest in the country.” A spokesperson for Glasgow Council said ‘unsurprisingly we are beyond delighted’. The programme is available on BBC iplayer until 20th October. Glasgow Life, Guardian, BBC
ICOM UK–BC Global Travel Grant Scheme for non-national museums
ICOM UK, with support from the British Council, is offering a number of travel grants to support staff from regional and local UK museums to travel internationally (beyond greater Europe) to develop mutually beneficial projects and partnerships. The ICOM UK–BC Global Travel Grant Scheme will enable international visits to museums to meet with international colleagues and mutually share skills, expertise and experience. It aims to support museums who are starting to develop mutually beneficial international projects and partnerships. Priority will be given to museums whose staff have not previously undertaken international work. The total budget available for the Global Travel Grant Scheme in 2017-18 is £7,200. Applications will be considered for grants of up to £1,500 per organisation or consortium. Applicants will need to make their own travel, insurance and visa arrangements, and ICOM UK or the British council can supply a supporting letter where visa regulations require it. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 13th October and a further round of grants will open in early 2018. NB: These grants are not available to national museums. ICOM
Oxford University Museums Partnership is again running its successful residential leadership programme in partnership with Saïd Business School. Aimed at directors and senior leaders, it equips participants to deal with a rapidly changing sector, nationally and internationally. OUMP says the course “intentionally disrupts how participants think, working on conceptual, contextual, organisational and personal levels. The programme enables participants to experiment, take risks with ideas, to break old habits, create new ways of thinking and behaving, to become skillful decision makers, and develop mechanisms for dealing with demanding situations.” The course runs from 18th – 23rd March 2018 in Oxford. Applications should be sent by 5th January. OUMP
Ironbridge Gorge is hosting a four-day conference on Communicating World Heritage. The first two days brings together international academics to discuss research and global policy; then on 9th – 10th practitioners will discuss how to communicate world heritage values to audiences. Speakers include Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, UNESCO representative Marielle Richon, whose recent work has included capacity building in Nepal and Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick from the Ministry of Defence who is heavily involved in the UK’s international cultural protection work. The conference takes place at Enginuity, Ironbridge Gorge on 7th – 10th October. Tickets are £135-£300 for one to four days, concessions £45-£140. Communicating World Heritage
Volunteer makers free fringe event at MA conference
Volunteer Makers is a new digitally-assisted process to match museums (and other bodies seeking volunteers) with people interested in donating their time. It allows people to provide micro amounts of assistance tailored to their skills, and attracts much wider groups of people than traditional museum-volunteer relationships. Currently around 50 museums are involved in the pilot, which also blurs the line between ‘volunteering’ and ‘visitor participation’ and helps museums build their own community. There will be a free Volunteer Makers event from 1.30 – 6.20pm on 17th November at the Museums Association conference in Manchester; museum staff are invited to come and discover how it works. Volunteer Makers
Final date this year for Touring Exhibitions Group ‘Preparing to Borrow’
The Touring Exhibition Group is holding the final seminar of the year in its ‘Preparing to Borrow’ series at Imperial War Museum Duxford on 31st October. The workshops give participants the knowledge and confidence to deal with all aspects of receiving objects on loan. TEG will also be launching a report on its findings on 16th November at the MA conference. TEG
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy has published dates for its programme of one-day ‘essential fundraising’ courses to run from this autumn until next March. Topics include writing strong funding applications, individual giving, using digital tools and corporate fundraising. Courses run across the country including in Manchester, Birmingham, London and Exeter and are £105 with some concessions. Arts Fundraising
Exploring the history of disabled people (via robotics, futurology and an abducted heiress)
MShed is hosting a symposium on the lives of deaf and disabled people, looking at the past and future, and considering the utopias and dystopias to be found in both directions. 'Brave, Poor (and Invisible): the Gatekeepers of Past and Future Cities' promises to avoid the usual powerpoints and panel debates, and will instead including storytelling (featuring the life of 18th century abducted heiress Fanny Fust, and how her situation created landmark law for people with learning disabilities); visits by robots courtesy of Bristol Robotics laboratory and an opportunity to be part of a Cultural Animation installation work. The event is connected to three upcoming museum exhibitions and displays at MShed, Museum of Liverpool and V&A which will cover the under-explored topic of disabled people's histories. It takes place at MShed, Bristol on 20th October and is free, but attendees are asked to book by 9th October if possible. History of Place
The Fun Palaces festival return on 7th and 8th October with community organised festivals and events running across the country, with events from bell ringing to paper marbling. 350 Fun Palaces are now on the map. The campaign for culture ‘for, by and with all’ hopes to create healthier and happier communities. You can find events near to you on the Fun Palaces website. Fun Palaces
The visual arts education charity Engage runs the annual Extend Leadership Programme, aimed at mid-career professionals working in education and learning roles in the arts, culture and heritage sectors who are interested in moving into senior management. Five subsidised places on the programme are available in England through ACE’s Museum Resilience Fund. Engage is now consulting mid-career professionals likely to be interested in applying in future, to discover their hopes and needs from a leadership programme. Engage hopes that this in turn will help create data to extend the ACE-supported places scheme to cover 2018-2022, and allow it to offer additional places for those based in Wales and Scotland. The survey takes 10 minutes to complete, and will be open until 16th October.Engage (survey), Engage (overview of leadership programme)
Museums face shorter opening hours as Leicester cuts £1m from its culture budget
Leicester City Council has announced it will be cutting £1m from its tourism and culture budget to manage the reduction in money it receives from the Government. Three museums in Leicester, which have not yet been named, are likely to see shorter opening hours. Grants to the city Curve Theatre and Phoenix Cinemas will also be cut. The Director of Tourism for the Council, Mike Dalzell said that councillors ‘aren’t keen on the idea, but they are realistic’. Figures show that 33 million visitors came to attractions in Leicestershire during 2016. Leicester Mercury
Walsall Council is seeking a partner to co-run the New Art Gallery over the next decade, and has said it would prefer to partner with a non-profit, trust or charity. The University of Wolverhampton is also in talks with the Council. Earlier this year Walsall Council contemplated removing all of the gallery’s grant of £470k by 2020, but following representations from the arts world, the cut was reduced to £130k. Ian Shires, the council portfolio holder for culture said that the council was in a “very difficult position with local government funding [and] the council now needs to find new partners who are willing to bring their expertise, knowledge and funding to Walsall.” Museums Journal, Express and Star
MGS seeks a better understanding of all Scotland’s museums through visiting programme
Recent research by Museums Galleries Scotland has pinpointed that many museums in Scotland have little or nothing to do with the body. Although its funding is restricted to accredited museums, it also offers support materials to other museums, and help towards gaining accredited status. Initially, MGS’s 22 staff will visit just over a quarter of all Scottish museums before Christmas, focusing on a cross-section of museum types and sizes, before expanding the programme. MGS
Thurley review gives recommendations on National Museum Wales
Former English Heritage Chief Executive Simon Thurley has reported back to Welsh Economy Secretary Ken Skates with recommendations for the future of National Museum Wales. Proposals in the Thurley review include:
Strengthening the commercial side of the museum’s work with a ‘high calibre’ commercial director, charging for special exhibitions and creating technical systems for better handling visitors and members.
Rebuilding trust with staff and trade unions after a long running dispute.
Working with tourism bodies to position museums as part of the visitor offer in areas from Cardiff to Snowdonia.
A ten-year vision for National Museum Wales developed with the government.
Transitional funding from the government as part of a ‘jointly owned package’ to create a resilient business model for the future.
Ken Skates said he welcomed the review and would now work closely with museum directors to explore how to take it forward. NMW Director David Anderson said “we recognise the need to make improvements in certain areas of our work including income generation and industrial relations, and Dr Thurley’s observations and recommendations provide a helpful framework to help us address these.”Museums Journal, Welsh government (Thurley review)
Paisley Museum to regenerate after major investment by local council and HLF
Paisley, the smallest urban area to apply to become 2021 City of Culture, is involved in major regeneration, including a £42m plan to overhaul the town’s museum. The local council will be investing £24.1m, while HLF has agreed to add £4.9m. The plan is to create ‘a world class’ visitor attraction with a shop, café, and more attractive displays. Collections will tell the story of the paisley pattern which is famously associated with the town. The museum hopes to attract 125,000 visitors a year, and create the equivalent of 42 new permanent jobs. The local council’s investment is part of a wider strategy to keep the town alive and economically successful in changing times. Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said “the way people shop has changed forever – so we have to create new life and new footfall by finding new ways to bring people into the town. Paisley can do that by making the most of the unique selling point that is our heritage and textile story – and the museum revamp, along with the museum store due to open this year and the new library will drive new footfall to our high street.”HLF, The Scotsman
The Museums Association and Arts Council England have published a report looking into the circumstances of 20 recent museum closures, how governing bodies, staff and volunteers responded, and what lessons can be learned. It is not a how-to-guide: it concludes that closures are ‘time-consuming, complex and expensive’ and should be a last resort. The main reason for museum closure is financial problems, although occasionally closure is caused by the departure of a member of staff or vital volunteers. The report looks at issues including:
Creating a contingency plan and consulting other museums to see if an outcome other than closure is possible.
If closure seems likely to go ahead, the museum’s duty to consult under the Equality Act 2010, to discover if this will have an impact on groups with protected characteristics.
Communicating the decision to close to staff and volunteers, and also to the wider public – museum closures often attract media interest.
Deciding the future of the collection whether through storage or responsible disposal.
The subsequent use of museum buildings and how the Localism Act 2011 and Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act may sometimes allow a building to be registered as an ‘asset of community value’ which a local authority is legally required to maintain.
Dealing with IT software and hardware.
Leaving a legacy.
The MA’s policy officer Alistair Brown said “most museums are hugely successful and have a great future ahead of them. But in a time of public funding cuts, 64 museums have closed across the UK since 2010 and more are at risk. In putting this document together, we wanted to make sure that we are learning the lessons from those closures, and to ensure that support is available for museums facing this kind of crisis.” Museums Journal
The National Fundraising Scheme has launched a new product that allows any charity to seek donations by credit or debit card. The small units are available to rent or buy, and can be fixed anywhere in a museum, like a collecting box. Payments under £30 are taken by the ‘contactless’ method, but chip and pin is also available for those wishing to make larger donations. Donate
Horniman seeks to crowdfund £30k towards its World Gallery
The Horniman Museum is encouraging the public to donate to its £4.6m World Galleries with a crowdfund aimed at raising £30k. There will be rewards for donating, ranging from a mention on twitter to a postcard of the Horniman’s famous oversized taxidermied walrus or a pink tote bag. The work will enable the display of 3,000 items from the Horniman’s anthropology collections, and create more daylight in the space. Kites and banners, collected and commissioned from countries from Guatemala to China will hang from the ceiling vault. The crowdfund runs for a month to 1st November, and has already raised more than 10% of its target. Crowdfunder
MGS assesses the impact of the new Scottish ‘Common Good’ register on museums
In the Community Empowerment Act of 2015, the Scottish government states that local authorities should hold a register of objects held in the ‘Common Good’. These assets range from land and buildings to art and other objects, many of which are in the collections of museums. Consultation has just closed on government guidance about Common Good property. Responding, MGS has said it supports greater transparency about local council holdings, but that the research involved to identify relevant museum collections may be considerable, and is not provided for in constrained budgets. The Scottish government has described the register as a ‘live document’ and says that museums do not need to add all relevant collections to it at once. MGS, Museums Journal
Plans for ‘a dozen’ new museums to attract 40 million at Moscow fairground site
Moscow is planning a vast museum quarter in the north-east of the city on a 235 hectare site which was once a Stalin-era fairground. The site already has a variety of elaborate pavilions, once used to represent different republics and industries of the USSR, but which fell into disrepair in the 1990s, when the site became a flea market. Now many central Moscow museums are planning outposts as part of a huge regeneration programme. There will also be a Cosmonautics and Aviation Centre with a full-scale mock-up of the Mir Space Station, alongside an amusement park, ice rink and aquarium. Together it is hoped that these attractions will draw 40 million visitors a year and rival the museum quarters of other European capitals such as Berlin’s Museum Island. The Art Newspaper
100 US museums go to court in opposition to immigration ban from Muslim countries
94 art museums and six museum associations across the US have signed two amicus briefs in support of those legally contesting the ban on immigration from six Muslim countries. The case has been brought against federal agencies and officials including President Trump. The action, led by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, means that although not themselves litigants, the museums will provide evidence of how the ban will harm their ability to work. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is planning an exhibition on 19th century Persian art, but fears it will not now go ahead, because it includes loans from the private collection of an Iranian national. The brief says that several other museums have postponed or cancelled future exhibitions. Guggenheim blog, Artnet, The Art Newspaper
Government ratifies Hague Convention protecting cultural property
On 12th September, the UK government officially ratified both protocols of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Act will come into force in the UK on December 12th. The UK and France are now the only permanent members of the UN Security Council to accede to both protocols. Arts Minister John Glen said “by ratifying the Hague Convention and both its Protocols, the UK underlines our absolute commitment to protecting cultural heritage, both here and across the globe.” Gov.uk
China Now – new British Council digital platform for UK arts professionals
The British Council has launched China Now, a new membership-based service for UK arts organisations and artists with an interest in working in China and Hong Kong. It is a resource hub for those wishing to understand China and Hong Kong’s fast-moving arts and creative economies. It offers feature stories, events, news, opportunities and research. Current feature stories cover music festivals, the digital landscape, small to medium touring, and museums. Research material includes insights into audience segmentation, digital, makerspaces and professional skills analysis for China’s museums. More material is being added each month. The site aims to help shape international strategy and ambitions, making direct connections between UK professionals and their counterparts overseas. China Now
The National Campaign for the Arts has launched its second year of awards for local councils and individual councillors and officers who have found ways to support the sector despite the squeeze on local funding. There is also an award for the best local arts project supporting community cohesion. Anyone can make a nomination before the deadline of 20th November. Campaign for the Arts
M+H has launched its 2018 Annual Awards for excellence in the museum sector over a dozen categories ranging from restoration to temporary and permanent exhibitions, education, fundraising and projects on a limited budget. There are two new categories this year: best shop under £500k and best shop over £500k. Accompanying case studies give examples of existing good practice: from the V&A extending its brand through retail, to the Sleaford-based National Centre for Art and Design, which has become a shop window for local makers. The deadline for entries is 1st February 2018. M+H (awards), M+H (some good museum shops)
People’s History Museum becomes Family Friendly Museum of the Year
Kids in Museums has awarded the People’s Museum in Manchester the title of Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2017. The museum, which tells the story of democracy, relaunched in 2010 and now attracts 100,000 visitors each year. Child friendly features include a co-op shop with an old fashioned till that everyone can play with, crafts including ‘make your own placard’, microscopes to look at bugs and ‘loads of buttons to press and games to play’. Many families praised the LGBT exhibition ‘Never Going Underground’ for its family friendly aspects, including special packs. Kids in Museums
Two Anthony Caro sculptures received under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme
Two sculptures by the late Sir Anthony Caro have been gifted to the nation under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. Both created in the 1960s, ‘Lock’ and ‘Window’ reflect a period in which Caro was exploring the boundaries of sculpture in radical ways. Both pieces have been temporarily allocated to the Tate until a decision on their permanent home can be made. Window will be on display at Tate Britain until January 2018. Works by Albert Irvin, Josef Herman and Jankel Adler have also been recently acquired through the scheme. ACE, ACE (Irvin, Herman, Adler)
Export reviewing committee hopes to Save The Queen
An export bar has been placed on a bust of Queen Victoria by sculptor Albert Gilbert. The asking price is £1.2m + VAT. The bar is in place until 7th December, with a possible extension to 7th April. Gov.uk
Also: Meanwhile there have been claims that Ireland’s export reviewing system is broken as 200 letters by W.B Yeats, valued at around £2m were divided into lots for auction in London, rather than being acquired by the nation. Some Irish institutions were given special funding by the state to make individual bids, but there is “no contingency source of revenue on which to draw when cases such as the Yeats sale arise, no national arts and heritage purchase fund, no portion of the highly profitable National Lottery set aside for heritage”. Apollo
Craft beer and moonlight kayaking: VisitBritain tries to lure youth back to UK holidays
VisitBritain is launching a social media campaign to try and persuade the UK’s young people to take holidays at home instead of abroad. There has been a 1.36m drop in holidays taken in the UK by 16–34 year olds since 2006, from 13.96m to 12.60m. The campaign ‘Join the world – Discover the UK’ is hoping to encourage one million more overnight stays, generating £80m. Proposed holiday ideas include moonlight kayaking in Northern Ireland, nights out in Ashton Lane in Glasgow and craft beer in Yorkshire. The site also offers tips on ‘how to travel the UK like an international millennial.’ VisitEngland, VisitBritain
Visiting while disabled: the barriers to cultural tourism
Chester has been voted the most accessible city in Europe in the European Commission’s Access Cities Award, the first time a UK city has been named. Journalist Frances Ryan, who uses a wheelchair, says cities like Durham and Bath ‘feel like no go areas’ and describes frequently having to pay for expensive taxis in London. She praises Chester for heritage access – she can tour the city walls and ‘rabbit warren’ hidden passages – but the more mundane aspects such as transport and toilets are also vital: the city has seven public toilets with hoists. The city also has a corporate disability forum where disability organisations can ‘challenge architects and developers about access plans’. Chester’s success highlights what is possible even in a city where much of the built environment is hundreds or even thousands of years old. The accessible overnight tourism market is now worth £3bn, but eight out of ten disabled people say they struggle while holidaying in the UK.
The Guardian also publishes tube maps of world cities, first in their entirety, then showing what is left when those without disabled access are removed. Paris performs the worst, with only nine out of 303 metro stops fully accessible, Barcelona (129/156), and Tokyo (186/211) relatively well, Washington DC (91/91) and LA (93/93) the best. London is among the least well performing cities (50/270) and New York (117/472) is described as effectively unusable by one disabled campaigner. Guardian (world city tube maps), Guardian (Chester), European Commission,
Arts, Heritage and Tourism minister John Glen MP is to become Chair of the new style Tourism Industry Council, which will allow a forum for government and industry to discuss tourism policy. John Glen said he believes tourism numbers will continue to rise post-Brexit, with a ‘huge potential for growth’ which joined up thinking will help to harness. Members range from ALVA (which including numerous museums), the Tourism Alliance, Warner Bros and Air BnB. ALVA
The Executive Director of the Association of Independent Museums, Tamalie Newbery is leaving the organisation in December to become CEO at Brooklands Museum in Surrey. AIM is now seeking a new Executive Director and invites applications before 11th October. AIM, M + H, AIM (job advert)
The makeup of various parliamentary Select Committees relevant to the museum sector has been announced. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee will be led by Damian Collins MP (Con). Ten members of the Science and Technology Committee have been announced, chaired by Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem). There has been some controversy as the first eight appointees were male, only three have a background in science, and only one or two of the final 11 will be women. Speaking to Inside Science, Norman Lamb said a better gender balance and a mix of MPs with and without scientific backgrounds is desirable. Gov.uk (Culture) Gov.uk (Science) BBC, Guardian
European Year of Cultural Heritage Co-operation projects
A new one-off category of EU funded projects has been created, to cover collaborations which contribute to the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Grants of up to €200k are available for partnerships involving three different organisations in three different countries. Eligible topics are very broad including ‘reinforcing a sense of belonging to a common European space’ and ‘promoting cultural heritage as inspiration for contemporary art.’ The funding will cover up to 60% of the total spend on projects. The deadline for applications is 22nd November. Creative Europe UK, NE-MO
Prime Minister signals UK will continue to participate in EU cultural programmes
In a recent speech on Brexit in Florence, Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that the UK will wish to remain part of EU-wide “specific policies and programmes which are greatly to the UK and the EU’s joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture”, implying that the UK will try to remain part of such schemes as Erasmus. However, a Downing Street spokesperson told Arts Professional that it is too soon for detail, and there will be more clarity only after negotiations are over. The Creative Industries Federation welcomed the ‘shift in tone towards one of collegiate partnership’ but said that the UK is ‘already leaking creative talent’ and that the government would need to move quickly to offer security. Elswhere Kamfpner added that restrictive rules would probably not affect celebrities, but would deter people earlier in their careers: “people don’t want to work in a country where they are merely tolerated. The issue is the seed corn.” Arts Professional, CIF, The Art Newspaper, Gov.uk
YouGov recently polled on whether or not the UK public is ‘proud of the British Empire’, with interesting and occasionally contradictory results.
59% of respondents overall said the British Empire was ‘more something to be proud of’, and this was the most popular response in every age group, though 65% of over 60s who felt proud fell to 48% among 18 – 24 year olds.
Asked ‘would you like Britain to still have an Empire?’ respondents were more ambivalent: 45% said no, 34% yes and 20% did not know.
Interestingly, people aged 60 + were the most likely to say they did not want an empire (51%) despite being the most enthusiastic age group about it as a part of Britain’s past. Only living in Scotland (60%) or London (53%) was a greater predictor of not wanting an empire now.
Those living in Scotland are more averse to empire across all questions and statistics.
Socio-economic class makes no difference to pride in empire, but C2DE respondents were 5% less likely to think that colonised countries were better off (46% vs 51%) but 5% more likely to still want an Empire (37% vs 32%).
Between a fifth and a third said they did not know to each question.
Stasis but better visualisation for Taking Part statistics
The latest Taking Part statistics show adult and child engagement in arts, heritage, museums, libraries and sport for the 2016 – 17 financial year. The figures for museums show nearly across-the-board stasis compared with recent years, with few significant shifts and a steady 52% of the adult population continuing to visit museums once a year, but only a tiny proportion attending weekly (0.6%) or monthly (4.1%). 17.2% visit three to four times a year. Among children, 63% visit museums at least annually with school or family. However, DCMS has produced useful and simple visualisation sheets showing engagement by region and by demographic over time since 2005. All of these show a rise in visitors of all types over that period. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (museums and gallery summary visualisation)
Historic England has published its annual number crunching for the heritage sector, this time concentrating on heritage and the economy. Headline figures include:
Heritage tourism generates £16.4bn from domestic and international visitors
£9.6bn of construction sector output was directly the result of repair and maintenance of historic buildings
278,000 people are directly employed in heritage
Five of the ten most visited paid attractions in 2016 were heritage venues, including NMDC member Kew Gardens
The brief report also includes case studies of urban areas, including Derby and the Waterfront in Bristol where planning and investment to sympathetically preserve historic structure encourages tourists and business. Restored buildings are particularly valued by the creative industries. It notes that a shortage of heritage skills may have an impact on major infrastructure projects, citing the lack of heritage tradespeople available for the restoration of the Houses of Parliament. Heritage Counts, Historic England
Bazalgette supports ‘Creative Clusters’ beyond London in new report
The government has published the review it commissioned from Sir Peter Bazalgette on the future of the Creative Industries. Bazalgette, now Chair at ITV, says he concentrated on areas where government and the sector could work together, and where there is a ‘clear case for action to address…barriers to growth’. Creative industries are outperforming other sectors, showing a growth of 300,000 jobs in four years from 2011 – 2015. They are highly resistant to automation with 87% of jobs likely to be safe, and work expected to continue expanding in the sector. Issues that Bazalgette says need to be addressed include:
Direct investment in creative industries R&D is too low – and at the moment although R&D occurs, it is not fully formed or recognised.
Overall the UK has a respected IP framework, but more can be done through data transparency to ‘realise the value of intangible IP’.
There are many micro enterprises in the creative industries, which lack access to finance.
There should be more direct investment in virtual and augmented reality, including extending the UK Games Fund.
The Creative Industries should establish a new, bespoke International Trade Board in partnership with the Department for International Trade.
He says the results of a successful plan would include:
A national spread of creative industries jobs across the country, narrowing the gap between the South East and other regions.
One million new creative jobs by 2030 and a more diverse workforce, more representative of UK society.
Sustained growth of 3.9% year on year leading to a GVA (Gross Value Added) of £128.4bn by 2025.
The government said it is now considering the report, but it has already led to an £80m competition to create ‘Creative Clusters’, managed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Professor Andrew Chitty of AHRC commented “Baz’s most striking conclusion is that the UK needs to recognise that creative businesses thrive and grow where they’re thick on the ground and can share ideas.” The competition will be for Research and Development (R&D) partnerships to drive innovation in eight clusters across the UK. Each winning R&D partnership will receive £6 - £9m towards economic development. The report points to Wakefield as an example of good practice, where a hive of music studios, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Hepworth Wakefield create a core of creativity, which is easier to build from than ‘brand new clusters in cold spots’. Gov.uk (press release), AHRC, Gov.uk (report) Gov.uk (Culture Secretary’s speech), Museums Journal
Happy Museum has suggested that museums could be a venue for a new approach to discussing climate change. European environmental charity Climate Outreach has published a new research paper, ‘Using Narrative Workshops to socialise the climate debate’ which argues that the public are not going to engage with climate debate and push for change without public conversation, made difficult by ‘fractured societies, isolation and a breakdown of trust’. The authors brought together people with no previous interest in climate change to discuss the subject. The narrative method was used as a tool to get to grips with otherwise technical and abstract ideas, and discuss them in a non-threatening environment. Case studies cover one group with a centre right viewpoint and another with the general public in Scotland. Although only one measure of engagement, body language at workshops was a measure of transforming attitudes: “we see people shift from a slumped disinterest to sitting upright to (by the end) leaning forward in their chairs with genuine interest and passion, wanting to know why more action isn’t being taken”. Happy Museum says 'museums have an opportunity and arguably a role, as shared public spaces, to host conversations like these'. Climate Outreach
Event: Stewards of the Future: museums’ environmental practice today
A major part of museums’ work is to keep collections intact as custodians of the future. A one-day Happy Museum symposium will explore the case that this responsibility extends to the environment as well. It will ask “what does it really mean to hold history in trust for society? How can we expand our notion of cultural stewardship in a way that places the natural environment at the heart of our values?” Much good practice already exists in museums, and the event will explore issues from the practicalities of buildings and collections management to learning and public outreach on environmental topics. Later this year Julie’s Bicycle and ACE will publish a Museums Framework on the environment; this event draws on material from that report. The event is free at MShed, Bristol on Tuesday 21st November, 10.30am–6pm. There are some travel bursaries for staff from museums in the South West. Happy Museum
Last month we reported on the fierce worldwide debate about whether some statues of historical figures should be removed. Now the Guardian has flipped the question and invited its readers, some writers and public figures to choose people who deserve to have a monument in the UK, but are not commemorated in this way. Jess Phillips MP makes the case for Mary Wollestonecraft, the ‘first feminist’, journalist Lucy Mangan suggests comedian Victoria Wood, Tulip Siddiq MP suggests Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian member of Parliament, Alexis Petridis nominates David Bowie. A reader proposes Sir David Attenborough, adding that the statue “should display him with a gorilla on his lap, as immortalised in Life on Earth so many years ago – the moment that turned him from a nature presenter into a legend beloved in every home in Britain”. Meanwhile a statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett will become the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square when it is erected later this year. Designed by artist Gillian Wearing, the statue will hold a placard saying ‘courage calls to courage everywhere’. Guardian, Telegraph, Independent
ACE and Nesta have published statistics for the fourth year on the relationship between arts and digital culture. Digital Culture 2017 also comes with factsheets by artform, including one on museums. Data from 200 self-selecting museums informed the survey. Findings include:
Museums are a few percentage points less likely than the arts sector as a whole to find digital important over a range of issues from marketing to operations. However they are 1% more likely (79% vs 78%) to find digital important for archiving.
The number of museums finding digital more important since 2013 (when records began) has not generally increased, except for a marked growth in the importance of digital in business models. Among large museums there has been rapid expansion in this area: 73% find it more important, compared to just 40% four years ago. The growth has been more modest for smaller museums, but there is still a significant rise from 17% to 31%.
Digitising collections (73%) and publishing onto free platforms (72%) are the top digital actions in museums.
There has also been a growth from 13% to 38% of museums providing digital education content or online events.
Mobile-optimised web presences have also more than doubled in the museum sector since 2013, from 29% to 64%, slightly behind the arts sector average of 69%.
Museums also user fewer social media platforms than the arts as a whole, with significantly fewer using twitter (74% vs 85% for all arts)
Larger museums report significantly more impact from their investment in digital than smaller museums, and most of the reported barriers relate to resources: lack of staff time, in house IT confidence and funding for digital projects.
Less than 10% report that their institutions are disinterested in digital; the difference in approach emerging between large and small institutions is often one of resources. ACE
A new book ‘Interpretation in a digital age’ gives a comprehensive overview of issues to consider when using digital and interactive technologies in museum displays. It is suitable for non-specialists, while giving an overview of all the current options – from apps (and whether you really need them) to Bring Your Own Device, using QR codes, traditional handheld tour devices, webcams and proximity triggering. It also reviews cultural and access considerations – ranging from how disabled people will use a technology, to the likelihood that some innovations that will be obvious to young ‘digital natives’ will not feel like home ground to older audiences. The book imagines applications in outdoor and unattended places – will cold, cows or vandals mangle your tech? as well as looking at the ‘mindful’ aspects of technology, and how to ensure that new innovation doesn’t distract from museum collections or the present. The book is written by Paul Palmer and Neil Rathbone, who invented ‘Info point’ – a technology making it possible to provide digital interpretation in areas with no wifi – which is now used in locations from museums to Iron Age forts. Memetechnology
Smartify is a smartphone app which allows its users to scan works of art in a gallery setting, which identifies the image and draws up a database of related information. A voiced version is available for visually impaired people, and users can create ‘playlists’ of their favourites. Pilots of the app ran internationally in the spring at venues including the Wallace Collection and National Portrait Gallery, and now over 30 institutions are taking part. Smartify is a social enterprise supported by EU and UK grants, and hopes to offer a platform for museums which cannot afford to develop their own apps. Costs of participation range from free for the basic service to £7k per year. Smartify, The Art Newspaper
CIF says cuts in university tuition fees should not be restricted to STEM subjects
The Creative Industries Federation has written to the Sunday Times to say that cuts to student tuition fees should not be restricted to those studying STEM subjects. Chancellor Philip Hammond suggested that cuts of up to £5k over a whole course might be possible, but with £1.5k extra given to universities only for those who study STEM subjects. CIF writes “creative subjects are also drivers for Britain’s creative industries, which turn over more than our automotive, life science, oil and gas and aerospace sectors combined. While Stem graduates are widely employed in creative industries, the latter could not exist without creative talent. Deprioritising funding for creative higher education will erode a skills pipeline already at risk from Brexit.” SundayTimes (paywall), Telegraph, Metro
Also: Nesta is running a one-day event Acting Now for Future Skills bringing together policymakers, educators and civil society groups to determine which skills will be needed for the digitally-enabled 21st century workplace. The events place at Altitude, Millbank Tower on 30th November. Nesta
Who would win out of the Science Museum and Natural History Museum if its staff could only fight each other with the contents of their collections? This was the question posed by @bednarz during the recent twitter #AskACurator day. The Natural History Museum was quick to claim victory with ‘We have dinosaurs. No contest’, but the Science Museum countered ‘@NHM_London is full of old fossils, but we have robots, a Spitfire and ancient poisons.’ Virtual war continued throughout the day with robot dinosaurs, a Polaris nuclear missile, apocalypse proof cockroaches, lava, ‘a book of great sea dragons’, locusts, DDT and an 1860 Enfield carbine rifle all being deployed by one side or the other. The New Stateman describes it as a ‘gloriously informative’ battle which left twitterati very well briefed about the museums’ fatal holdings. (We are now hoping that someone will see the potential for a computer game.) New Statesman