We are looking for a part-time administrator to join our small team for four days per week. This is an opportunity to build up an extensive knowledge of current museum and cultural sector issues, while managing electronic diaries, websites, contact databases and financial administration systems. The role is based at Tate Britain, and the deadline for applications is this Monday 13th September. NMDC
National Archives launches MOD records project, generating 33 linear km of records
The Ministry of Defence has begun a major transfer of 10 million personnel service records to the National Archives for permanent preservation. The six-year project will generate 33 linear km of records in total, covering those in the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force with a birth date before or including 1939. This is far more than the 1.5km of records the National Archives collect from Government departments in a typical year. The material includes half a million who served in the First World War and a vast majority of those who served in the Second World War. Records will become open to researchers and the public 115 years after the birth date of each individual. National Archives is exploring various options to make the documents as accessible as possible, including digitisation. National Archives
Images this month come from Tate's autumn exhibitions programme, and includes Anicka Yi's whose Hyundai Commission will be in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern from 12th October; 'Petrit Halilaj: Very Volcanic Over This Green Feather' which opens at Tate St Ives on 16th October and 'Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 50s - Now which opens at Tate Britain on 1st December. Tate (Anicka Yi), Tate (Petrit Halilaj), Tate (Life Between Islands)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has published his Spending Review 2021 launch letter, setting out his priorities ahead of allocating departmental resource budgets for the three financial years 2022 – 25. It lists as its five priorities strong public services including the NHS, education and criminal justice; levelling up; the transition to net zero emissions; advancing global Britain and post-Brexit opportunities; and a plan for growth, particularly emphasising becoming a ‘scientific superpower’. The letter also commits to growing core departmental spending by nearly 4% on average per year, in real terms. There is an opportunity to make representations ahead of the Spending Review via a Treasury survey form. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (survey)
National Lottery Days Out Campaign offers public vouchers for off season visits to attractions
The public will be offered £25 vouchers this autumn to be redeemed at visitor attractions across the UK, funded by the £10m National Lottery Days Out campaign, when they buy a National Lottery Lotto ticket. There will be a major advertising campaign to raise awareness of the scheme, which runs from October to early 2022, and is aimed to support off-season tourism. Museums and galleries signed up to take part will be refunded for each £25 voucher used at their sites. Participating venues must have online booking and be signed up to the industry Covid-19 standard ‘We’re Good to Go’. The campaign is co-ordinated with VisitScotland, Visit Wales and Tourism Northern Ireland and is available across the UK. Attractions can express an interest by emailing [email protected] to register ahead of the campaign launch. VisitBritain, VisitBritain (FAQs)
Snapshot from the V&A: attracting back tourists – and the need for new philanthropists
In an interview with the i newspaper, V&A Director Tristram Hunt describes how tourists from overseas, which usually form half of the museum’s visitors are now down to 2%, creating a tough operating environment for the museum which is currently open for only five days per week. However, it is having some success attracting domestic visitors from outside London. Hunt also argued that tech companies should be attracted to offer new sources of philanthropy to museums. He said “the cultural life of cities like London is one of the reasons Google attracts people to work here. In the past, major philanthropic families like the Sainsburys gave that cultural infrastructure to museums and galleries because they thought that’s what the wealthy should do. Making that argument afresh is one of the challenges for today.” i newspaper, Arts Industry
National Trust thanks members for sticking with it through pandemic closures
The National Trust managed to retain 84.2% of its members during 2020 – 21, despite months when virtually all of its sites were shut by the pandemic. This retention figure is only 1% less than the previous year. The Trust did lose its usual opportunities to recruit new members from those visiting its sites, with numbers down 60% on 2019 - 20. However, since April 2021, this figure is picking up again, averaging 105,000 new members each month, or one new joiner every 25 seconds. Overall charity’s income was down £213m in 20 – 21 due to the loss of income from shops, cafes and holiday cottages, and at some points it furloughed 81% of its staff, supported by £53.7m in Government support. It also had to make £94.5m in savings, including through 1,767 redundancies. However, goodwill toward the charity is reflected in a 383% increase in online donations to the charity in 20 – 21, amounting to £865k. Director General Hilary McGrady said “it has been the immense, loyal support from our members, volunteers and donors, as well as some vital public funding, that saw us through the worst of what has been a terrible year for so many. It’s remarkable that, despite so many property closures and other challenges last year, we have retained almost the same number of members as we do in any normal year. Our supporters have really stuck by us, whether that is staying with us as members or offering record-breaking online donations, and for that I am so grateful.” M + H, National Trust
Museums are being driven towards short-term growth model, says Derby Museums Director
In 2014, 97% of Derby Museums’ revenue came from ACE or Derby City Council. By 2019, that proportion was 45%, with the remainder made up from commercial activity, trusts and foundations and private fundraising - on the surface, a success story in adapting to the drive for more commercial, self-supporting institutions. However, Director Tony Butler argues that this leaves museums as “part of a pervasive economic system that rewards short-term growth, rather than long-term sustainability”. He says that pro-social fundraising, particularly from getting involved in wellbeing programmes for local councils and the NHS have largely failed to materialise, because museums cannot operate at scale. The current more transactional approach may make it harder to give communities spaces to hold events for free, rather than charging a fee - and limit the time and energy for ‘non-market goods’ such as volunteering, space and knowledge. Consequently, museums are being forced to choose ‘quick wins’ over long-term sustainability. Museums Journal
Culture at COP website launches to showcase the sector’s climate work
Museums Galleries Scotland has launched an international website ‘Culture at COP’ to host listings of cultural events which respond to the COP26 climate talks taking place in Glasgow this November, in partnership with the Climate Heritage Network and Historic Environment Scotland. Including both virtual and in-person events, the site showcases the sometimes overlooked role that arts, culture and heritage play in achieving a climate resilient world. Many events already listed are being implemented through new creative partnerships extending beyond the sector. Museums and galleries and invited to submit their events via an online form. Culture at COP, Culture at COP (add an event), AIM, Museums Journal
Hampshire Cultural Trust, HOME Manchester and the National Trust are among the cultural organisations that have taken up circular or ‘closed loop’ printing which means that materials used for signage and print are repeatedly recycled, with design and production company taking back materials at the end of life for reuse. Factors include never using PVC, using renewable energy and sending zero waste to landfill. Recent case studies from Julie’s Bicycle point to work by its print partner Seacourt, but offers a basic road map for any supplier or museum wishing to follow the model. Julie’s Bicycle, (case studies including HOME Manchester and the National Trust). Julie’s Bicycle, (Hampshire Cultural Trust)
Mist gardens emerge as more ecologically friendly alternatives to fountains in city spaces
Cities and attractions creating ‘mist gardens’ as an atmospheric and more environmentally friendly alternative to water fountains. Creating water droplets of less than 50 microns which drift across an area, they use less water and cool people and environments. They also work well for a wider range of visitors: with older people enjoying the cooling fog without fearing getting soaked. Bloomberg
Unpredictable weather an emerging issue for outdoor cultural events
Cultural organisations have frequently programmed outdoors in the past year to adapt to the pandemic, but now a number of theatrical producers say that more extreme weather caused by climate change is making this an option with growing risks. Lucy Askew, Chief Executive of Creation Theatre said “it’s so unpredictable and the changes in weather are so vast… we went from paths being really muddy to worrying about the safety of actors because it was so hot.” Sustained afternoon heat can now be as challenging as sudden downpours, with the Guildford Shakespeare Company developing a ‘sunshine policy’ as well as a wet weather strategy. The Stage
The School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester is conducting a follow up survey to the one it ran last year on the impact of the pandemic on museum provision for schools. The new survey focuses on how museums adjusted or reinvented their schools programme in the light of the pandemic, and the role of digital in this. The survey takes 20 minutes and is anonymous. University of Leicester
Museums and AI Applications (MAIA) Survey - global call for information
The University of Manchester is conducting a Museums and AI Applications survey, and is inviting museums globally to contribute information about uptake and use of technology in this area. University of Manchester
Following previous difficulties in finding a mutually agreed update on its definition of a museum, last set in 2007, the International Council of Museums is now pursuing an 18 month process, with the hope of offering a new proposal at its 2022 conference. As part of this it has launched a detailed survey into both the definition itself, and which words are acceptable or unacceptable to respondents in creating it. The deadline for responses is 9am on 20th September. ICOM (survey), ICOM (process methodology)
Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum to launch in November
National Museums Liverpool has formed the Transatlantic Slavery and Legacies in Museums Forum to share learning across the sector. Partners include Black Cultural Archives, Bristol Culture, Hull Museums, Glasgow Museums and the Museum of London. It will be formally launched at the MA conference in Liverpool in November, but museums are invited to sign up in the meantime to express and interest, and get information on upcoming events and workshops. Museums Journal, NML (sign up)
Digital outreach with older communities - lessons from the War and Conflict SSN
From July 2020 - June 2021, IWM’s War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network explored new ways of reaching people over 70, through learning around WW2 topics. Working with 25 partners in the network and groups such as AgeUK who have detailed knowledge of this audience, the group turned digital assets into CDs, DVDs and 600 activity booklets which were distributed around the UK. The project also delivered 11 short Zoom sessions to care homes, including talks, quizzes and crosswords. The group is now running an event to present the work and its outcomes in detail. It takes place on 30th September from 2pm and is free. IWM, MDNW
CMP’s Firm Foundations masterclass for everyone planning a capital project
Cornwall Museums Partnership is running a new round of its Firm Foundations masterclass – a course over four days for anyone who is embarking on a capital project. It is open to participants across the UK and covers everything from procurement and project management to costs and contractors. The first three days will take place via Zoom in January and February 2022, the fourth will be an optional site visit to a location near Cornwall. Ticket prices vary by organisation turnover and range from £520 - £1986. CMP (mailing list signup for further details), CMP
Federation of International Human Rights Museums conference at NML
National Museums Liverpool is hosting this year’s conference of Federation of International Human Rights Museums, online. The theme this year is breaking down barriers of inequality to create a shared sense of belonging. Sessions include ‘online abuse and prejudice in museums: how to safeguard, prepare and respond’, and ‘the challenge for human rights museums’. The event takes place on 16th September, each session is free and can be booked individually. NML
The National Archives is running an event on volunteering, covering obligations to volunteers and expectations they should meet, how to attract volunteers and distinguishing genuine volunteering from unpaid work. The event takes place on 9th September from 10.30am and is free. National Archives
The Family Arts Campaign has opened bookings for its conference, exploring the value of arts and culture for families, and how the sector can recover, re-build and refocus post-pandemic. Participants will also be invited to the Fantastic for Families Awards ceremony.
The event takes place from 16th – 17th November, with tickets booked before 17th September at 29% discount. There are options for freelances, individuals and teams from £60 + VAT - £300 + VAT. Family Arts Campaign
Touring Exhibitions Group is holding its annual Marketplace event online this year with opportunities to visit virtual stalls, three minute share activities, networking, and meetings with organisations both offering and seeking to host exhibitions. The theme is ‘The Sustainability of our Industry’, with future-facing topics such as equality, diversity and inclusion; digital technology and skills and the economic situation. The event takes place from 21st - 22nd October, and tickets are £32.93 - £103. TEG
Collections Trust conference: Dealing with complexity
Museums increasingly have to work with complex levels of data, which may exist outside of structured museum databases - or perhaps outside the museum sector altogether. This conference helps collections professionals deal with multi-layered, multi-perspective knowledge. The keynote speaker is Dr Mike Jones of the Australian National University who has recently published on this topic. The event takes place over two afternoons on 14th - 15th October online. Tickets are £30 for individuals or £55 for a team. Collections Trust
Arts, Fundraising & Philanthropy autumn programme (includes yoga for new managers)
Arts, Fundraising & Philanthropy has launched its autumn programme, with options including capital fundraising post-pandemic, business planning and digital tools for fundraising. It is also offering an innovative new eight week course ‘Strengthening the Core’ which offers support to new managers, combining embodied movement and yoga with discussion and tools for dealing with anxiety or high levels of scrutiny. There is a taster session on 15th September for those who want to know more. AF&P, AF&P
Troubleshooting Collections Management - new bitesized scenario discussion events
Collections Trust is trialling a new shortform online event format, where a small group troubleshoot a specific problem that has arisen in collections management, and attempt to find a good solution. The first event will cover themes of object entry, acquisition and accessioning - for example, ethical issues, dealing with unsolicited donations or the decision-making process for acquisitions. Participants should apply by noon on 20th September, including a scenario or question. Sessions will not be recorded, to allow for honest discussion. Collections Trust
Creative & Cultural Skills Recruitment Training programme
Creative & Cultural Skills, the organisation that supports pathways to work for young people across the creative industries, has launched a new programme for recruiters, to help them develop inclusive and lawful practices to create a more diverse sector. Session topics include apprenticeships, understanding volunteering, working with freelancers, a best practice guide to recruitment and creating a workforce recruitment policy. One to one sessions are also available. Sessions are free in England funded by ACE, and open to organisations beyond England at cost price - email [email protected] to discuss. C&CS
International heritage bodies working intensively behind the scenes to protect cultural heritage in Afghanistan advise against naming specific institutions, and particularly staff members associated with culture on social media or elsewhere, in case of unintended consequences for those named. A statement from UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that it “calls for the preservation of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage in its diversity, in full respect of international law, and for taking all necessary precautions to spare and protect cultural heritage from damage and looting”.UNESCO
Museums and Galleries Tax Relief: new figures for 20 - 21
DCMS has published figures for creative industries tax reliefs up until the end of the 20 - 21 year. Figures show that:
£1.31bn was paid out across all the creative industries tax reliefs, an increase from £1.11 billion from the previous year.
Film tax relief accounts for nearly half of the total amount paid out and high-end television (HETV) tax relief for almost 30%.
Museums and galleries received £14m of Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief (MGETR) over 190 claims for 1,555 exhibitions. This figure reflects the year the claim was submitted and not necessarily the year in which the exhibition took place. Claims for the pandemic year were slightly down on 2019 - 2020, when over £15m in claims were submitted.
The highest proportion of MGETR claims were for smaller amounts, with 49% of all claims being for £25,000 or less in 2020 - 21. Gov.uk
Government launched Live Events Reinsurance Scheme
The Government has published the headline details of its Live Events Reinsurance Scheme, which will support live events to take place across the UK, including music festivals, business events and conferences. Those who take out insurance with the scheme’s partners will be largely protected from costs if an event is legally unable to happen because of Government Covid-19 restrictions. The scheme will run until the end of September 2022, and will not cover costs of lower demands for tickets. Gov.uk
Study shows wellbeing benefits of visiting a museum are stronger in deprived areas
A study published on the British Medical Journal’s Open Access site shows that the link between wellbeing and visiting cultural places - including museums and heritage sites – is stronger in deprived areas. The large study from the Department of Geography at University College London interviewed 14,783 people over three years, to discover how community cultural engagement (CCE) effect on wellbeing varied by local prosperity. However, people in more deprived areas are less likely to engage in cultural activity, not just because of characteristics such as lower educational attainment, but because the areas themselves offer fewer cultural opportunities. This reinforces the need for programmes such as ACE’s Creative People and Places, which seeks to grow the cultural offer in under-served areas. Museum Next
Arts Council England has turned 75, having been founded on 9th August 1946 as one of the last acts of Churchill’s coalition Government. Its Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota used the occasion to call for further commitment to the arts from the Government. Speaking to Radio 4, he said “what I hope, of course, is that the government will want to build on the foundations they’ve laid with the Culture Recovery Fund and find the additional sums that would make it possible to take arts to communities that really haven’t benefitted in the arts, and there are too many of them across the country”Arts Industry, ACE
History, Health and Happiness – Heritage Doncaster assesses pandemic wellbeing programme
Since 2018, Heritage Doncaster has run the ‘History, Health and Happiness’ programme, aimed at decreasing isolation through local history-based work. Its report for 2020 – 21 documents how the work adapted to the pandemic, with the creation of digital social clubs for those online, and distributing 6500 activity packs for isolated adults and families. The report found that 72% of participants found out about places near them, 83% became interested in trying new activities, with 65 museum objects used as the basis for conversation. One participant, isolated through pandemic shielding, said “being part of the [online] clubs gave me something to look forward to. I was able to talk to others in the same situation as me, who were also shielding. In the group I feel comfortable talking and sharing as they are really laid back. If the group had been in person in a room I wouldn’t have said a word! Being online has given me the confidence to say what I think and join in.”Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance
Also: The Beaney, Canterbury has launched a new step-by-step toolkit for those interested in setting up wellbeing work in museums, based on its long experience. CH&WA
Museums on prescription trialled in Brussels for pandemic stress
The Brugmann hospital in Brussels is launching a three-month pilot to see if prescriptions to visit five museums across the city will help patients currently being treated for stress. The museums cover topics including contemporary art, fashion and sewers. The project has been masterminded by Delphine Houba, the Alderman responsible for culture in Brussels, who was inspired by similar work in Canada. Outcomes will be published in 2022, and the project may be rolled out further if there are signs that museum visits combat burnout and other forms of psychiatric distress. Guardian
National Disability Strategy includes widening access to arts and culture
The Department for Work and Pensions has published its National Disability Strategy, which aims to improve the daily lives of disabled people across a range of issues including transport, work, education shopping, public services and leisure including arts and culture. The report finds that:
Currently 13.9% of disabled people say they feel lonely, compared to 3.8% of non-disabled people, a disparity that has not narrowed since 2013 - 14.
Often disabled people need to manage energy levels and pain are a barrier to socialising.
90% of disabled people say they have experienced difficulty accessing public buildings at least sometimes.
The Disability Unit aims to widen access to arts, culture, sport and leisure in 2021 - 22 as a way of increasing opportunities for socialising and increasing wellbeing. The report also commits that by December 2021 the Government’s Disability Unit will review how it engages with disabled people, organisations and charities to amplify their voices in decision making. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (Disability Unit) VisitBritain (accessible tourism resources)
‘Replacing loud party animals with museum goers’ - rethinking European tourist destinations
Amsterdam, Prague and Barcelona are among the cities considering a ‘curated tourism’ approach as visitors begin to return after the pandemic. The aim is to avoid attracting the ‘loud partiers’ who arrive in large numbers, disturb locals and bring little to the economy, and instead focus on developing tourists including museum goers, who spend more with a lower social impact. Hana Třeštíková, Prague’s councillor of tourism told Bloomberg “We met with representatives from Amsterdam, Barcelona and Florence during the pandemic, and all of us were thinking the same thing. Before Covid, over-tourism had become almost unbearable, and Covid gave a pause to try and make some changes in what our cities represent, how we promote ourselves and how we must focus on quality of visits—not quantity.” The quiet during the pandemic has also revealed how few locals live in city centres and tourist districts, making these areas more a ‘theatrical backdrop’ than a living culture. Not all of the solutions are in the hands of city administrations - but Barcelona has frozen licenses for cheap rentals while extending bus routes to spread tourism across a wider swathe of the city. Meanwhile amsterdam&partners is lobbying the Dutch Government for a minimum price on plane tickets and in 2020 Prague ran a tourism campaign to encourage those who do visit to stay for more than two nights, for a less frenetic tourism experience. Bloomberg
20 cities have placed a bid to host the 2025 City of Culture, including regions and groups of towns which have been encouraged to take part. Previous experience has shown that placing a bid has positive effects in itself - encouraging local, national and international partnerships which attract investment and develop a vision for local areas. The longlist of applicants includes Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk, Medway, Lancashire, Derby, Bradford, The City of Bangor and North West Wales, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon and The Borderlands region, including areas of England and Scotland. Each will receive £40k to further develop their bid, and a shortlist will be drawn up in coming weeks, with the winner announced in May 2022. Gov.uk, BBC, Arts Industry, Museums Journal
Recently published sentiment trackers give a mixed picture of how fast tourism will recover over the next few months.
VisitBritain published the latest round of its sentiment tracker on 3rd September, capturing views from the last week of August. Only half of respondents think things will be ‘close to normal’ by April – June 2022, 85% think it will be ‘later in 2022’. 60% of the population are fairly or very confident about taking overnight trips in September, declining to 54% for December. Top reasons for not travelling in the autumn include fear of catching Covid-19 (43%), Government restrictions (37%) and personal finances (35%). Appetite for risk (out of 4) has not shifted much over the past few waves, although it has declined from 2.7 to 2.6 since the last wave, for visiting an indoor attraction. VisitBritain, VisitBritain, (early Sept figures)
Wave 10 of ALVA’s Attractions Recovery Tracker, covering 3rd – 9th August presents a more positive picture. The percentage saying they have already visited an attraction in 2021, or will do as soon as an opportunity arises was up across every kind of attraction, and has increased by 12% for museums since June. Three quarters of those over 55 have expressed this higher level of confidence. However, there remains a strong preference for places with social distancing and mask wearing, and there has been a slight decline in confidence in using public transport, especially buses. ALVA,
ONS statistics published on 20th August also point to relative caution from the public, who are choosing to maintain pandemic precautions even when non-mandatory. 89% said they wear face coverings outside the home, and 46% said they always or often maintain social distancing. ONS
All other rounds of the Cultural Recovery Fund have now closed to new applications, but the Emergency Rescue Support strand remains open, with the deadline for permission to apply requests of noon on 30th September, and a deadline for completed applications at noon on 14th October. It offers between £25k and £3m for organisations which are at risk of ceasing to trade viably within 12 weeks. (The upper limit is £1m if an organisation is for-profit). ACE
2022 will be Scotland’s Year of Stories and a new £300k Community Stories Fund has been launched which is open for bids of £500 - £5k for programming by not-for-profit organisations including museums and galleries. The project is being administered by Museums Galleries Scotland and VisitScotland. There are five themes: Iconic stories and storytellers (showcasing stories from literature, screen and entertainment), new stories (focusing on emerging talent and innovation), Scotland’s people and places, local tales and legends and inspired by nature. The fund will cover a range of expenses including fees for speakers, equipment hire, production costs, extra staff time and volunteer expenses. The deadline for the first round of funding is 5pm on 1st October for work in the first half of 2022. A second round opens on 24th January 2022. MGS, Museums Journal
National Changing Places toilets programme open for EOIs from local government
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published the prospectus for its £40m Changing Places toilets programme, aimed at greatly extending the number of public buildings in the UK which can offer this facility. The fund is open to local government bodies, not directly to museums and heritage sites – but some council-affiliated organisations may be able to encourage their council to complete the EOI by the deadline of 26th September. Gov.uk
Mayor of London opens new Green and Resilient Spaces fund
The Mayor of London’s Office has launched a new £4m Green and Resilient Spaces fund, offering £250k - £750k for large scale innovative enhancements to green and blue spaces in the public realm. It is aimed to create better green space for neighbourhoods, improving resilience to climate change and supporting biodiversity. Local authorities, charities, not for profits, community benefit societies and tenants’ associations can apply, and the scheme strongly encourages applications by partnerships - there may be opportunities for museums and galleries that would be too small to apply alone to be part of a scheme with local partners. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 30th September. Mayor of London
New round of ’15 minute heritage’ grants opens in Wales
NLHF and Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, are jointly offering a new round of ’15 minute heritage’ grants offering communities between £3k - £10k to promote local heritage, within a short walk or cycle ride from local neighbourhoods. The grants from an overall fund of £360k might be spent on small-scale physical works to land or buildings, digital upgrades including websites and apps and purchasing equipment, fixtures and furnishings. The deadline for applications is noon on 4th October. Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport said “whether it’s through empowering volunteers with new skills, or enabling people to engage with their local heritage in new and accessible ways, each successful project will deliver benefits to communities nationwide.” NLHF
Art Explora Awards open offering €50k prizes for work reaching new audiences
The Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award is open to applications for a second year. It promotes museums and arts centres across Europe, including the UK, which develop work designed to reach new audiences. There are three €50k prizes for institutions of different sizes, as well as a €10k audience choice prize. The deadline for applications is 1st October. Arts Explora
CMP 3D costume digitisation project seeks to generate profit from gaming and fashion industries
Cornwall Museums Partnership has used a £50k Art Fund grant to produce 3D digital models of costumes from three of its museums: Royal Cornwall Museum, Penlee House Gallery & Museum and Bodmin Keep. The resulting material will be available commercially to the fashion and gaming industries to generate a new source of income. Additionally, the project will allow audiences to get up close digitally to collections that are ‘very fragile and vulnerable to light’ and cannot be on display for long periods, or those off-display due to lack of space. CMP
From creative ecologists to ‘precarious projecteeers’ - valuing creative freelances
Around a third of the creative industries workforce is freelance - a much higher proportion than the national average of 14%. ‘Mind the Understanding Gap: the value of creative freelancers’ is a new report from Creative United, Nesta, Coventry University and other partners looking at the experience of this group. It is based interviews with 84 freelances in London, Coventry and Northumbria, and captures the trade-offs between freedom and flexibility - and low pay and insecurity. Its recommendations include:
Government should support ‘dynamic and agile’ forms of work such as freelancing by setting conditions for good work, including regulatory, business support and social security mechanisms.
Adult skills and lifelong learning schemes should help freelancers - and the wider workforce - continue to pick up new skillsets.
Institutions play a central role in setting out good practice, both in contract terms and conditions, and in avoiding hidden labour and late payment. ‘Social Value Procurement’ practices are gaining popularity and offer a template for good practice.
Creative freelancers should be included in discussions on the future of the sector.
Funding schemes are often oriented to organisations and should also be made accessible to freelance business models, including offering training in how to respond to calls to apply to funding initiatives.
Creative freelancers have a particularly important role to play in place-based development work as areas emerge from the pandemic. This entails investing in some of the ‘freelance types’ identified by the report, including creative entrepreneurs, creative ecologists, precarious projecteers and community creatives.
Stockton Council knocks down its shopping centre and invests in parks and culture
High Streets have been irrevocably changed by the pandemic, with 17,500 chain stores disappearing in the past year. The local council in Stockton-on-Tees has developed one of the most radical plans addressing that shift, showing how culture will take an increasingly central role in town centre revisioning. Its plans include buying up the local 1970s shopping centre so that it can knock it down and turn it into a public park three times the size of Trafalgar Square. Within it will be a library and a leisure centre, and a path to the River Tees - once polluted by industry, but now a centre for rowers and a natural centrepiece for events and festivals. The town has also spent £30m on restoring a Grade II art deco theatre as an event space, which has attracted huge interest by locals wanting to get involved or work at the site, with high demand for planned public tours.
The council sees its new purpose as emphasising ‘events, independent enterprise, green space and conviviality’. It has also built a town centre hotel, which it hopes will generate £250k each year to help fund services. Councillor Nick Cooke says “what are town centres for? This is an existential threat we are facing. If people are not coming into town to shop at Debenhams because there is no Debenhams, there is no Marks & Spencer and so on, what are they going to come in to do? The council and the people we represent are the guardians of this place. You can’t just let things carry on. You have to be proactive and have some ambition….People of my daughter’s generation won’t be saying ‘I love going into town to go to M&S. They’ll be saying they love going to the park or the Globe, or the Hope and Union micro pub. That’s what their vision of Stockton town centre will be.” Guardian
ACE report argues for investing in culture to reinvent the high street – as a third drift away from these civic spaces
ACE has published a new report ‘A High Street Renaissance: How arts and culture bring people and pride back to our high streets’. Currently the trend is away from people spending time in these civic spaces, with 28% expecting to spend less time and only 14%, mostly younger people, expecting to spend more. However, ACE’s polling also shows that 69% of people believe that culture on the high street makes their area a better place to live, and there is existing evidence that it attracts footfall, generates spend, increases civic pride and is a vital part of the picture for creating post-pandemic town and city centres. It therefore proposes that local councils should establish event teams, co-ordinating a programme of activities, and that businesses, tourism and cultural bodies should work more closely together. It offers case studies including Derby QUAD, Turner Contemporary and Theatre Royal Plymouth as examples of culture’s reviving power. Elsewhere, Bournemouth has reinvented an old department store building as a culture hub, and an eight minute film from the event ‘New Places, New Spaces New Audiences’ shows how culture can be embedded in venues from railway stations to centrally located rooftops. ACE, Guardian (Bournemouth), Revels Office
Swindon Council and local pressure group remain in conflict over museum building closure
A local pressure group and Swindon Council remain in conflict over plans to close and sell off Apsley House, the Grade II heritage building that is home to Swindon Museum, and move the museum to a new cultural quarter which will not open for several years. Earlier in the summer, it looked possible that supporters of the museum would change the mind of the council, now this looks less certain although the council says that no decision has yet been taken. Museums Journal, This is Wiltshire, Museums Journal, (latest update)
DCMS has announced more details of its Heritage Advisory Board which will produce a new set of guidelines to address ‘difficult heritage assets’. It says “the guidelines will help boards make effective decisions about how best to deal with objects they own that are, or may become contested within the government’s policy framework of ‘retain and explain’.” It also lists the seven-strong board including Historic England Chair Sir Laurie Magnus, broadcaster Trevor Phillips and Museum of the Home Chair Dr Samir Shah. Gov.uk
Statues Redressed: Liverpool takes the long view of its current and fallen statues
In 1982, a statue of the 18th-century financier and pro-slavery advocate William Huskisson was pulled down during a riot in Toxteth, Liverpool. Now a new sound piece by artist Harold Offeh has been installed on the empty plinth as one element in a new ‘Statues Redressed project’. Created by the city’s cultural service Culture Liverpool and Sky Arts, the project will allow artists and communities to ‘dress’ a number of statues across the city this summer, as a way of discussing the now-contentious topic of statuary and history. Robin Kemp, Liverpool’s Head of Creative Development says “we don’t think we have the answers but we knew the conversation around statues, which was so polarised, needed broadening out… we have started a conversation that probably would not have happened without the project.” He added: “the statues had become part of the civic environment, almost turning into wallpaper. This project has prompted people to consider them in a different way, which is critically important.”Art Newspaper
Darkness visible? Neil MacGregor advocates against iconoclasm, but for radical relabelling and statue museums
Writing for The Art Newspaper, former British Museum Director Neil MacGregor looks at the global wave of iconoclastic statue removal, and argues that statues should be preserved, although not necessarily in the same location, and with sometimes radical reinterpretation. During June, statues of Columbus were officially removed or toppled across half a dozen sites in the US. MacGregor says that the impetus for the removals was how the European arrival in America had tragic consequences for its pre-existing inhabitants that can no longer be overlooked; however, the creation of statues of Columbus in the 1890s had itself been a response to prejudice against Italian Americans, which society eventually rejected, in part through making the explorer a national hero. By contrast, MacGregor points to ways that Germany has responded to a colonialist and fascist history as offering alternative models to destruction. A huge war memorial in Bremen to soldiers who died conquering and defending an area of South West Africa (modern Namibia) is now a memorial to the victims of that war, with Nambians contributing to the inscriptions. Other statues, which celebrate Nazism and militarism are now in a museum on the outskirts of Berlin. MacGregor comments that preserved in this way, they don’t allow cultures to simply forget their past. He says: “all were once on show in Berlin, admired and revered. There are pre-1914 celebrations of militarism; Nazi images of Aryan physical perfection; symbols of Soviet dictatorship. It is a supremely disturbing place… Rather than simply condemning the past, they ask the most uncomfortable of all questions: how could so many people like us once have thought that this was the way to run a society? And where are our moral blind spots today?”Art Newspaper
Also: Following an audit of its monuments Newcastle City Council will be placing new interpretation panels next to two of them in 2022, including a memorial to the Boer War. Its plans are in line with Government policy of ‘retain and explain’ but have still generated controversy around how the past is presented. The text of the new interpretation panels has not yet been published. Guardian (Olusoga), Newcastle Chronicle, Times
If you were forwarded this by someone else, and would like to sign up to receive the NMDC newsletter monthly in your inbox, visit our website here and drop your email address in the box to the right of the page.