January 2014

NMDC Newsletter: January 2014
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NMDC Newsletter: January 2014
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 In the January issue: 

...and much more.  

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Section headings | NMDC news | Autumn Statement  | Making the case for local arts funding | Creative Industries | English Heritage | New developments | Events | Appointments and Honours | Funding |Members' news | Awards | Measuring the sector | Education | History speaking loud and clear | A longer view: looking back to Starry Messengers and Tomorrow | A longer view; looking forward to museum futures |Some exhibition highlights for 2014 | Jobs And finally...|

  NMDC news

Working Internationally 2014 Conference

NMDC, ICOM-UK and the V&A will present a one-day conference focusing on the practicalities of embarking on international work and sharing good practice, experience and information across the museum sector. The conference will take place on Thursday 27 February 2014 in the Sackler Centre at the V&A from 10.30am to 4.30pm (registration from 10am). The keynote speaker is Mark O'Neill, Director, Policy and Research at Glasgow Life. Other speakers, facilitators and panelists are drawn from national, regional and independent museums which have developed successful international programmes and partnerships.  This conference will interest people working in any type of UK museum who are engaged in or want to begin working on international projects. Tickets are £25 (including lunch) and general tickets are now on public sale. For further details and to book a ticket, click here.

  Autumn Statement

Further heritage cuts in the Autumn Statement

The Chancellor announced a further £3bn of cuts in the Autumn Statement on 5 December. He also however emphasised the importance of the creative industries to the economy.  Measures relevant to the arts and culture include:
  • A 1.1% reduction in the DCMS budget for 2014 – 16.  This will translate into a loss of £13m next year and £12m the year after. These cuts have been passed on to English national museums and to Arts Council England.
  • The GREAT tourism campaign will receive a 50% increase in funding to £45m until 2016.
  • A social investment tax has been announced to encourage people to invest in charities and community interest companies from April 2014 onwards.  ACE Chair Alan Davey said these offered interesting opportunities to the arts sector.
  • The government has announced a budget to give greater support to employers using apprentices.  These include tax relief for businesses hiring people under 21 and funds direct to employers from HMRC for training apprentices.
  • There were no further cuts to local authority budgets.
  • The Chancellor announced a tax break to theatres producing new or touring work, giving them similar reliefs to those already used in the film industry.  The Arts Council welcomed the news, but Adrian Vinken at the Theatre Royal Plymouth said that because many regional theatres work in an overall subsidised framework, he doubted that the tax breaks would save them money.
Arts & Business praised the many positive references to the economic contribution of the arts in the statement, but echoed the uncertainties about whether the currently planned tax breaks would help non-commercial theatre.  They added “if, as the budget statement says, the creative industries are an important part of our economy, then we would like to see a tax measure that encourages entrepreneurism across the entire commercial and not-for-profit cultural sector, embracing not just theatre, but exhibitions, dance, music, publishing and all other forms of cultural practice.” Youtube (watch the Autumn Statement), Museums Journal, Cultural Learning Alliance, Heritage Alliance, Arts Industry (subscription only), IPPR, Taitmail, Arts &Business, Guardian

ACE announces plan to manage further budget cuts

Arts Council England will receive a further 2.30% budget cut over the next two years as a result of the Autumn Statement. Arts Council Chief Executive Alan Davey says, “the reduction to DCMS budgets has been passed on to the Arts Council as a cut to our Grant in aid of 1.17% in 2014/15 and 1.13% in 2015/16. The majority of the Grant in aid money we receive is invested in the National Portfolio and Major Partner Museums, so in 2014/15 we will pass these cuts onto the organisations we fund.” However, he added that funded organisations would not see budget cuts in 2015/16, and the money would be taken from ACE strategic budgets for that year. Arts Industry (subscription only)

Bristol Council propose closing four museums

Bristol City Council has recently closed a consultation on their budget proposals which included plans to shut four museums if external organisations could not be found to run them independently. The museums are Blaise Castle Museum, The Red Lodge Museum, Kings Weston Roman Villa and the Georgian House. Bristol City Council needs to close a £90m funding gap in the coming three years and this proposal could save £162k. Museums Association Also: Colchester Council has imposed budget cuts across its cultural offer, including a gallery and a theatre.  Directors spoke of the double effect of local government cuts alongside existing Arts Council reductions, but Anthony Roberts of Colchester Arts Centre also expressed some relief: “I am relieved because the Arts Council cut was 29.6% so they have managed to protect the front line service to some extent.” Essex County Standard

Conservatives aim to keep free admission to national museums

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said he hoped to be able to maintain the policy of free admission to national museums if the Conservatives won the 2015 General Election. Vaizey said, "it has been an absolute core part of our approach that the national museums should remain free in order to access the national collections. We wanted to maintain core funding and we certainly intend that free access to the national collections should remain the case" Telegraph

‘To state fund the arts, or not to state fund the arts, that is the question.’

A short BBC film briefly explores the question of whether the state should fund the arts: is state funding a ‘post-war experiment’ which should be ditched in favour of a move back to wealthy patrons or should it be seen as part of a long tradition (the State, in the shape of the Lord Chancellor, funded Shakespeare)?  Nick Starr, for the National Theatre argues that only the State is in a position to take a risk of ‘something which does not yet exist’ – and that the areas of greatest innovation produce the greatest hits, such as War Horse, whose commercial success has ‘absolutely saved the finances of the National Theatre’. BBC

Tax exemption for public access to artworks ‘a racket’

A tax exemption scheme which allows owners tax relief in exchange for allowing public access to their arts collection 28 days per year is in need of reform, argues the Guardian.  A survey revealed that although owners do not refuse access, many are visibly reluctant, and choose visiting dates and times that will put people off.  Labour shadow culture minister Helen Goodman said "There is a consensus that we do need to do more to extend access to these objects. It's a bit of a racket, really. We need to strengthen the obligations on people." Not all owners are hostile to visitors. One told the Guardian “there isn't museum space in the UK for all these things. They're cared for. I give all the information I've got and they give me information back. For me, it's a joy – a great voyage through a particular period of history." Guardian Back to top

  Making the case for local arts funding

Newcastle seeks saviour philanthropists to make cultural bailout work

When a deal was brokered last year to prevent Newcastle Council from cutting its arts budgets to zero, a fund was set up to encourage philanthropists to match fund £600k offered by the Council. It has now emerged that no-one has yet donated to the fund. Council leader Nick Forbes said, “there is still an opportunity for rich individuals who made quite a lot out of the North East over the years, in cultural terms, to contribute to this. But it is not just rich individuals, it is people making one-off donations. Now we need arts groups in the city to promote the concept of the fund as a way of sustaining the diversity of our cultural offer during a period of austerity.” The Journal

Campaigners and funders work to retain Derry/Londonderry City of Culture legacy

As Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013 closes, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Derry City Council have both contributed £450k to keep a legacy arts programme going and continue to work towards the city’s regeneration plan.  Music, fashion and storytelling figure among the projects. Meanwhile there is a growing campaign to retain the new art gallery at Ebrington after the Turner Prize closes, rather than turning it into an office block. Richard Gordon of the Gordon Gallery said, “What you need for a ‘creative hub’ is a bedroom and a socket to plug a computer into. You don’t need temperature control, humidity control and security. What we have now at Ebrington is a state-of-the-art gallery. This is appalling. If we lose this gallery 2013 will have been a waste of time. We won’t go back one year, we’ll go back ten years.” The final decision seems to rest with the Office of the First Minister. BBC, Derry Journal

Arts Darts: success in local arts funding

Writing for the Guardian, the Chief Executive of the RSA, Matthew Taylor, argues that despite local cuts, arts organisations can retain local government funding if they can prove they can help the council deal with its wider social duties. He writes, think of making the case for local arts funding as aiming at a dartboard. Organisations with no credible account of the wider benefits of their activities miss the board entirely. Those who can point to some external impact in the form of economic and social benefit are on the board but may not be scoring as highly as other demands on local government time and money.” He suggests that the co-creation contracts that local councils are forming with the NHS may be a useful model, and that arts groups should even ask councils what their central problems are, and then return with arts projects which deliver social solutions. Guardian  Back to top

  Creative industries

 British Library Chief Exec supports copyright exceptions legislation for museums, libraries and archives

British Library Chief Executive Roly Keating has written for the New Stateman supporting the proposed copyright exceptions for museums, libraries and archives. These proposed changes will shortly be debated in Parliament and could become law by April 2014. If agreed, the copyright exceptions will allow museums to make copies of works in their collections for the purposes of preservation without having to first seek the permission of the rights holders. Similarly they will allow museums to make and display digitised copies of works in their collection on the premises on "dedicated terminals" without having to seek the permission of rights holders. Other copyright exceptions relate to the copying and use of material for education purposes, and to allow archives and libraries to make single copies of works for the purposes of research and private study. It also will not be possible for a contract to over-ride these exceptions.   Keating says that these changes are vital to keep up with the changing economy in coming decades and centuries. He adds, “the new copyright exceptions are not and cannot be about undermining the legitimate interests of creators. Rather, the goal is to foster an environment where knowledge can be accessed and used in ways that benefit researchers, creators, and the increasing number among us who are both.” New StatesmanNMDC

Nesta blogs on the importance of the creative economy

Nesta picks up on Chancellor George Osbourne’s comments on the importance of skilling up a new generation of young people, and argue that jobs with a strong component of creativity should be high on his list, as they are delivering a substantial amount of GDP to the economy.  Nesta showed in a report last year that “the creative economy employed 2.5 million in 2010, or 8.7% of the UK workforce, and had grown at four times the rate of the workforce as a whole.” They argue that with a renewed sense of energy from the Creative Industries Council, and Ed Vaizey’s sector knowledge from seven years in post, plus reports in the New Year expected to further underline the fast growth of sectors built on creative talent should make it essential to take the sector seriously. Nesta Back to top

  English Heritage

DCMS announces consultation on English Heritage changes and gives a further £5m

DCMS has announced that it will be giving a further £5m to English Heritage on top of £80m already given to the body as it launches the charity arm which will be responsible for its historic sites. Charitable status will give English Heritage new freedom to raise funds – it aims to find £83m from third parties. At the same time proposals for how the new body will run have been unveiled. An open consultation period will run until 7th February. The Heritage Alliance and National Trust have both given initial reactions to the consultation. The National Trust said that its main area of concern was that the new body should be really sustainable over the long term, and able to be ‘an owner of last resort’, stepping in to save unique heritage that might otherwise be destroyed. Lloyd Grossman, Chair of the Heritage Alliance has written to The Times saying that while the Heritage Alliance welcomes the debate on English Heritage, the sector cannot sustain continuous cuts. DCMS, English Heritage, English Heritage (consultation links), National Trust, Heritage Alliance (letter to The Times) Back to top

  New developments

 New Creative Industries hub planned for East London includes V&A

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a new creative industries and cultural hub in Stratford, East London in the site of the Olympic Park.  The plans include an exhibition space run by the V&A in partnership with other major museums, and a design school, cultural centre and biotech project run by University College London. Recently research from A New Direction showed that young people in the outer suburbs from London may be as cut off from the capital’s cultural offer as those who live far from London, and there are currently few museums in the London Borough of Newham. The plans are still at a very early stage, and represent a shift from original plans to create a mainly residential area.  Boris Johnson said “I want to raise our ambitions for this magnificent site to squeeze out every drop of potential. The idea behind Olympicopolis is simple and draws on the extraordinary foresight of our Victorian ancestors. We want to use Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a catalyst for the industries and technologies in which London now leads the world in order to create thousands of new jobs.” Arts Industry (subscription only), AND, Arts Professional, Evening Standard 

Lindisfarne Gospels bring £8m to County Durham

Visit County Durham has run an in-depth analysis of the economic impact of a display of the Lindisfarne Gospels in County Durham. Usually held at the British Library, the gospels were on display at Durham University’s Palace Green Library over summer 2013. It is estimated that £8.3m was spent by visitors to the exhibition on food and accommodation and other visitor attractions while in the area. 6,046 people left mainly glowing comments about the exhibition, and 20,000 schoolchildren went on trips to visit. 1 in 6 people in the region were involved in a wider festival built around the exhibition. Visit County Durham

Work to finally begin on V&A Dundee outpost

The project to build an architecturally impressive outpost of the V&A in Dundee is to begin this year, with HLF due to award £9.2m to the costs of the £45m structure. It is now likely to open in 2016/17 and will be Scotland’s first international design museum.  Guardian

British Newspaper Library completes move to Yorkshire

The project to move the 750 million pages of the British Newspaper Library from Colindale to a new home in Boston Spa in Yorkshire has now been completed.  The material, from The Times to Vogue to TV listings magazines, will now be held airlocked in a low oxygen environment to prevent fire. The public will be able to order material from Boston Spa to read at the British Library from autumn 2014.  BBC

Crawley regeneration built around new museum

The HLF has given Crawley Borough Council £1.15m to create a new museum in the town centre.  Work is likely to begin in April 2015.  The museum will be run by Crawley Museum Society with support from the Council, and work to encourage participation from the whole community.  HLF's Stuart McLeod said, “a new museum in one of the town’s oldest buildings will give heritage an enhanced role in the educational and cultural life of Crawley.” ALVA Back to top


V&A Leadership course open for applications in 2014/15

The V&A’s Innovative Management & Leadership Programme begins in April 2014 and is now open for applications. The course consists of 11 workshops spread throughout the year. Full participants in the programme will gain 60 level 6 learning credits, equivalent to one third of a Masters Degree. Participants will also receive a coach or mentor from within or beyond the museum sector. Previous speakers on the programme include many directors of major museums and the cultural sector. V&A

Edinburgh plans second international culture summit for 2014

Partnering with the British Council and Edinburgh International Festival, the Scottish Government is again bringing together world cultural leaders in Edinburgh on 10th–12th August 2014.  It follows a similar gathering in 2012, which had representatives from 33 countries. British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson said, “the international community once again convenes in Scotland to discuss how we can work together to create cultural and educational opportunities for people of all nations. As it did in 2012, I expect the Summit to stimulate both ideas and debates as well as new collaborations and ways of working.” Scottish Government

Heritage Show + Tell, Leeds

The next Heritage Show + Tell will take place on 27th February at Leeds City Museum from 5pm - 7pm. The organisers have issued a call for speakers (who get three minutes of airtime each) and all are welcome including community heritage groups, freelancers, museum professionals, students and academics.  Heritage Show + Tell

Creative Scotland offers ‘multi year stability’ to selected artists for first time

Creative Scotland have announced a new ‘simplified and streamlined’ arts funding plan which will come into effect this year.  It includes a promise to offer multi-year funding to some individual artists, similar to the ‘Aosdana’ scheme which has been running in Ireland since 1981. Herald Scotland

Museums at Night offering crash course in Dragon Training (and help from 20 other authors)

Museums at Night have released a list of 21 children’s authors who have agreed to waive their usual appearance fee to participate in Museums at Night events.  They include How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell.  For adults, they are also offering the services of satirical arts duo Modern Toss, including a live drawing event, the F***yeux2 tapestry.  Museums at Night (children’s authors), Museums at Night (Modern Toss)

‘Upcycle Your Museum’ – AIM conference

The Association of Independent Museums has announced its 2014 conference which will take place on 19th – 21st June at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley. The theme is ‘Upcycle your museum’ with emphasis on green innovation and sustainability. AIM Back to top

  Appointments and Honours


Claire Titley has been appointed as Arts Council England’s new Director of Philanthropy and will be based in Bristol. She has 15 years of experience in fundraising and previously worked for Welsh National Opera. She said  “I am particularly excited to be part of an organisation that will be at the forefront of making a real change to the landscape of arts giving, with the potential to influence a generational shift in public thinking.” Since becoming ACE Chair last year, Peter Bazalgette has expressed a particular interest in developing greater philanthropic giving to the arts. Arts Industry (subscription only), Museums Journal As Creative Scotland’s senior management restructuring continues, a number of postholders have been announced.  Philip Deverell, formerly of ACE, becomes Director of Strategy. Leonie Bell is now Director of Arts and Engagement; Gerard Kelly, previously of the Scottish Enterprise Investment Bank is Director of Funding.  Ian Stevenson, acting Director of Finance, will now continue the role permanently.  Arts Industry (subscription only) Anne-Catherine Robert-Hauglustaine has been appointed the new Director General of the International Council of Museums. She is currently deputy director of the Jardin des Sciences of the University of Strasbourg.  Museums Journal The South Australian Museum announced that its new Director will be Brian Oldman, previously of the British Museum Company.

New Year’s Honours

Among those listed in the New Year’s Honours are NMDC member Dr Janet Barnes, Chief Executive of York Museums Trust, who receives a CBE for services to Museums in Yorkshire.  The sculptor Antony Gormley received a knighthood for services to the Arts. Telegraph Back to top


 14 – 18 Now launches to explore FWW through the arts

A new cultural programme, 14-18 Now has been created with a budget of £10m to tell the story of the First World War through the arts.  Funded by Arts Council England and HLF, the project is chaired by Vikki Heywood, former Executive Director of the RSC.  She says, “our perceptions of the Great War are often through the work of painters and poets. The artists and arts companies to be commissioned will create work reflecting the resonance with conflict around the world today.” The Arts Council adds “The programme aims to engage communities all over the UK, with a particular focus on young people. It will also be seeking collaborations and partnerships with the many countries all over the world that took part in the First World War”.  Organisations involved include opera houses, the Tate, and National Theatre Scotland.  The programme will work closely with the Imperial War Museum to curate the programme.  Arts Council, Arts Industry (subscription only)

All Creative Europe calls for funding now online

The Culture programme from Creative Europe is designed to help cultural groups design works that tour across borders, and also promote the circulation of individual cultural producers.  All schemes have a new audience development dimension.  Deadlines range from 5th – 19th March, depending on the type of project. European Union

London Museum crawl: 26 museums, one day

A group raising money for Guide Dogs took part in an epic 26-venue Museum Crawl around London on 7th December.  They covered sixteen miles from Exhibition Road to St Paul’s, South Bank and Brick Lane.  It’s questionable whether the group was much more educated by the end of the journey – a quick snap in each venue is all they had time for – but they easily exceeded their fundraising target.  See the route (which they invite you to pinch for your own event in return for a small donation) at MuseumlinesLondonist

Crowdfunding: future stable model or passing internet fad?

The first crowdfunding platform was launched in 2009 and in 2013 crowdfunding  raised around $5bn.  It’s already being floated as a possible new mainstay of the arts sector by figures from Peter Bazalgette to former Culture Secretary Chris Smith.  A Guardian article reviews the state of the technology which now supports everything from families facing homelessness to individual artists (through platforms like Patreon), to cultural projects and tech startups.  They ask whether the approach will last or be another passing fashion and add, “there have already been concerns in the arts community, one of the hottest areas of crowdfunding activity, that the movement could be an excuse for governments to make further cuts to arts grants. There is also pushback when celebrities (Amanda Palmer, The Veronica Mars Movie Project) use crowdfunding platforms to raise money at the expense of unfunded, independent, and unknown artists”.   Patreon, Guardian

Investment readiness grants launched for arts sector

The Arts Ventures fund, launching later in 2014 with help from the Cabinet Office, will be the first social investment fund specifically for the arts sector.  Organisations looking to raise more than £500k in 2014 can apply now for investment readiness funds up to £150k to help them get ready for larger bids.  Projects should deliver both artistic and social benefits e.g. education for young people and greater access for older people. Be Investment Ready, Arts Professional

HLF gives £3.3m for resilience in the heritage sector

HLF has awarded nine grants worth £3.3m in total to large heritage organisations who will in turn provide heritage groups with the tools needed to build capacity and improve their ability to tap into private funding. Around 15,000 people will have access to expert training in the sector as a result. Funded organisations include the Heritage Alliance, Arts & Business Scotland and the National Archives.  HLF

Lottery money up, business spending down a third, finds NCA

The National Campaign for the Arts has repeated its ‘health check’ survey of 2011, following more than 20 indicators to judge the health of the sector.  Findings include:
  • Treasury funding has decreased by 21% in 3 years;
  • Local government funding is down 16%;
  • Business contributions to the arts are down by 30% compared to five years ago;
  • Lottery money for the arts has risen by 17% post-Olympics; and
  • Money from trusts and foundations is up by 18%.
Sam West, Chair of the NCA, expressed concern that Lottery money “is no longer the icing, it’s the cake”. In a wider piece exploring the sector, the Guardian also noted that although there are 736 few arts jobs across the sector than in 2007, satisfaction with the end product is increasing, with 63% of adults saying their last experience of the arts was ‘high quality’ compared with 57% in 2007/8.  Guardian (NCA with link to whole report as ebook), Guardian (quick sector overview)  Back to top

  Members’ news

IWM closed until mid 2014

Building work has unexpectedly revealed major infrastructure problems at the Imperial War Museum in London. The repairs will cost an extra £5m, but the museum says “we continue to actively fundraise and have now secured £36.7m. The project is fully affordable and we are confident that we will raise the remaining £3.3m from our supporters.” The museum will now reopen in July 2014, just before the beginning of its First World War commemorations programme. Museums Journal, IWM

National Media Museum unveils five year vision

The National Media Museum has announced its five year plan for a sustainable future. It includes bringing in commercial partners for its film screens and a revised mission  “to explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on people’s lives”.  Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch said that the new plans would require ‘significant investment’ from partners as well as retrenching by the museum in order to succeed.  Museums Journal

National Gallery receives early Van Gogh under Cultural Gifts Scheme

The National Gallery has received Van Gogh’s Head of a Peasant Woman as part of the Cultural Gifts Scheme launched last year, which offers tax relief to donors. It is the first early work by the artist to appear in the gallery’s collections. The picture is now on display in Room 45. Arts Council  Back to top


Creative & Cultural Skills announce ‘employer of the year’ award

Creative and Cultural Skills Council have launched their Creative and Cultural Employer of the Year Award for 2014. It celebrates employers who offer opportunities to young workers. They are also offering two awards to young people for the first time: Apprentice of the Year and Paid Intern of the Year.  The closing date for nominations is 21st February. Creative & Cultural Skills

Arts & Business launch 35th annual awards

The Arts & Business awards are open to businesses of any size which have helped the cultural sector in the areas of branding, sponsorship, employee volunteering and corporate responsibility.  The categories this year include corporate responsibility, digital, sponsorship (below and above £10k), long term partnership and new sponsorship, as well as two awards for Board Members.  The deadline for nominations is 14th February. Arts & Business

Nominate your ‘most inspiring’ museum for the Guardian Culture Pros pick

As we reported last month, Museums + Heritage has opened nominations for their annual awards. Among them is the ‘Guardian Culture Pros pick’, which rewards the ‘most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction’ of the previous 12 months.  Last year the prize went to the Grant Museum of Zoology.  If you would like to nominate a venue for the initial sift, there’s a very quick and simple form on the Guardian website. Nominations close on 7th February. Guardian  Back to top

  Measuring the sector

 Adult ‘Taking Part’ stats show increased museum, but plummeting library visits

Figures for adult participation in the cultural sector for the year up to September 2013 have been published.  Key stats include:
  • 53% of adults visited a museum or gallery in the previous year – the highest figure since records began in 2005;
  • 78% of adults participated in  the arts, the same number as in 11/12;
  • Library attendance continues to decline, with 36% of adults saying they had visited in the previous 12 months. This is 3% lower than the previous survey, and markedly down from 48% in 2005/6;
  • Socio-economic group has a very strong influence on museum visits with 63.1% from the upper group attending, compared to 39% in the lower group;
  • Only 36.3% of over 75s visited a museum or gallery;
  • 30% of adults have donated money to a charity in the DCMS sector in the previous 12 months; and
  • 30% of adults visited a museum or gallery website, compared to 18% in 2005/6 – reflecting a steady climb in engagement over the last few years.
Gov.uk, Taking Part, Museums Journal Also: An ACE-funded project to put artists into libraries and create wider ‘cultural hubs’ has been met with some criticism from library campaigners. Library campaigner Alan Wylie said “Right from the start I, and others, had serious concerns about the decision to hand the development remit to ACE, I saw it as a way of undermining and sidelining the educational and information role of libraries and this push towards 'cultural hubs' and the tying down of £6m worth of funding to library/arts partnerships only reinforces my belief”. Bookseller

Warwick Commission explores 'measuring cultural value'

The Warwick Commission has chosen 'measuring cultural value' as the theme of its research over the next two years, looking at the whole ecosystem of the cultural sector and asking: 
  • How does England invest in its cultural life? 
  • How is culture valued and undervalued? 
  • How important is education to the development of talent and participation in culture? 
  • How are new international trends impacting on England's cultural status?
Partners in the research include the British Council, Design Council, Cheltenham Festivals and RSA. Commissioners include Ruth Mackenzie and Nick Serota who will be working alongside Warwick University academics. Previous Warwick Commissions have explored ambitious subjects such as elected mayors and city leadership and reforming the global financial system. (NB The AHRC are also running a two year 'cultural value' exploration project with a slightly different focus - this is separate from the Warwick Commission project, although they are in touch) Arts Professional, AHRC

Arts Impact Assessment website launched

A group of organisations which have run arts events with London school-age young people have launched a new website, Arts Impact Assessment.  It offers tools and philosophical perspectives for those trying to measure the impact of their work with children.  It covers:
  • Why do Impact Assessment?;
  • How to embed Impact Assessment in an organisational culture;
  • Tool and methodologies; and
  • The value and quality of evidence.
Arts Impact Measurement

Visit England predicts changing tourism trends in the next decade

A conference, report and dedicated website from VisitEngland were launched in December and they explore the changing patterns in homegrown tourism over the next decade.  They argue that the number of people taking holidays in their own country will increase.  Other predictions include:
  • Social media drives ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (now significant enough to have its own acronym ‘FOMO’) which encourages people to pursue broader leisure experiences and try new things;
  • Organisations with the strongest mobile platforms and apps will benefit the most from this;
  • Technology driven ‘individualocracy’ where customers seek experiences very tailored to their own needs, often booked at the last minute;
  • Families are changing: grandparents are ‘younger’ in outlook than ever before, and intergenerational holidays will increase;
  • A segment of the very elderly population (over 80s) who would like to go on holiday, or for a day out, but will be geographically limited by disability will also be a factor; and
  • Consumers have become ‘value hunters’ in the recession, making developing brand loyalty important. 
VisitEnglandTrends  Back to top


Navigating a new landscape in cultural education

London Arts Education body A New Direction (AND) has produced a number of resources to help cultural organisations who are working in and with schools, following curriculum changes. They write, “there are extraordinary opportunities for more innovative and exciting partnership between the cultural sector and education in the years ahead. We hope that in helping colleagues navigate this complex policy terrain, AND can play a role in building a future for London schools where art, culture and creativity are central.” They cover:
  • Freedom, accountability and change – what cultural organisations need to know about the new education landscape;
  • New School Models – Policy Context – an overview of policy shift by the Institute of Education; and
  • Five case studies - examples of how some London schools from a range of governance models are approaching their arts and culture provision and their work with cultural partners. 
A New Direction Also: AND’s annual review, My Culture, My London, looks at the cultural experience of eight young people from the city, and asks, do we respect young people’s notions of culture and creativity, or do we just want them to adopt ours? A New Direction,

FWW skirmish breaks out among education politicians

A row about how the First World War should be viewed has broken out between Labour and Conservative politicians, with an increasing number of academics and actors being drawn into the conflict. Writing for the Daily Mail, Education Secretary Michael Gove said that dramas from Oh What A Lovely War to Blackadder had been used by left-leaning academics to imply that the First World War was a pointless shambles. He described the views of Sir Richard Evans, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge as "more reflective of the attitude of an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate." Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt responded that the First World War commemorations should not be used as a platform for political point-scoring adding, "Whether you agree or disagree, after the death of 15 million people during the war, attempting to position 1918 as a simplistic, nationalistic triumph seems equally foolhardy – not least because the very same tensions re-emerged to such deadly effect in 1939." Sir Tony Robinson said that Blackadder is appropriate among a range of teaching tools, adding "the noble officer class in Britain, is a very old fashioned fantasy". Daily Mail, Guardian, Sky News

Hereford leads the way for dementia friendly arts

The Baring Foundation and Arts Council England have announced the four recipients of grants to help develop dementia friendly arts programmes. Among them is the Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford has received £250k and becomes the first arts venue to join the Dementia Action Alliance.  The centre will now act as a leader in dementia friendly arts for the sector, and deliver a series of workshops in care homes across the country.  Peter Bazalgette said There are currently over 400,000 older people in residential homes, many of whom are often excluded from the opportunities and benefits that taking part in arts and cultural experiences bring. Arts Council Back to top

  History speaking loud and clear

British Library project gives Mandela a voice

In the wake of the death of Nelson Mandela, millions listened to excerpts from recordings of the 1964 trial which led to his imprisonment for 27 years. The British Library describes how the recordings had been publically unavailable until 2000 when Rob Perks, the Library’s Oral History Curator, fell into conversation with colleagues from the National Archive of South Africa. They told him that the recordings existed but they had no means of transcribing them from the old technology. British Library expertise restored the material; the originals have been returned to South Africa, but you can hear digital excerpts on the BL website as well as through hundreds of online media outlets. British Library

Scottish venues criticised for failing deaf visitors

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland has carried out spot checks on 21 cultural venues, and discovered that only three had working hearing loops at their main ticket or information point.  Loops amplify speech over background noise, and the charity said they are ‘absolutely essential’ to deaf visitors.  They gave a top rating for friendliness to deaf visitors to Sterling Castle, the National Museum of Scotland and Holyrood Palace. ALVA

HLF funding to support Deaf Community history

The HLF has given a grant of £719k to the British Deaf Association. It will help to preserve and digitise their extensive moving image archive. The material goes back to 1931 and includes footage that has not been viewed in 50 years. The funding will also cover education and outreach programmes to address the significant lack of resources for telling the story of the deaf community in the UK. Heritage Lottery Fund  Back to top

  A longer view: looking back to Starry Messengers & Tomorrow

Some highlights: 2013

Many organisations have published their highlights for 2013: here are some plums from across the web. The BBC rounds up some Welsh successes across the cultural sector in 2013, from Bedwyr Williams’ The Starry Messenger (a metaphor for the cosmos at the Venice Biennale) to Rhian Edwards scoring a hat trick at Wales Book of the Year.  BBC In two blogs BOP Consulting has picked some of their 2013 favourites in art, theatre, buildings and new discoveries. Among others, they particularly liked the V&A’s installation Tomorrow saying, “I have never seen an exhibition that so perfectly embodies the notion of ‘the uncanny’. Weird and fascinating and very seductive.” They also liked the Walker Art Gallery’s Alive in the Face of Death, which explored those whose lives are lived in the close proximity to death, and enjoyed architectural projects from the new Library of Birmingham to the revamp of Wakefield Cathedral. BOP (arts & theatre) BOP (buildings and new discoveries) Arts Council England highlighted an eclectic mix of achievements which included meaningful arts outreach to people in residential care and the 100,000th Arts Award to a young person – plus high value gifts to the nation such as a Rothko painting and John Lennon’s lyrics.  Arts Council Back to top

  A longer view: looking forward to museum futures

 Live as a Dodo

Writing for the Evening Standard, Director Dr Michael Dixon describes the Natural History Museum’s new foray into 3D film Natural History Museum Alive 3D. It features David Attenborough interacting with scientifically accurate recreations of extinct species from dodos to ichthyosaurs.  Museum scientists worked with film company Colossus, and he argues that this sometimes challenging creative collaborations are the way forward for museums reaching an audience well beyond physical visitors.  He adds “today’s toddlers — tomorrow’s scientists — are growing up with iPads and 3D television as a seamless part of their world. Keeping on top of this rapidly evolving technological reality is a real challenge.”  Evening Standard

An interview with the Google Art Project

Amit Sood, Director of the fast growing Google Art Project has been speaking to the Guardian. The project now has 300 partners, curating online exhibitions through the project.  Sood believes there’s a strong correlation between rising visitor numbers and online exposure: Art and culture – it's more in front of you; you're more exposed to it, and you're more inclined to want to go and see the real thing. I've said it a hundred times, but you can never replicate the experience of seeing a work of art online. I still prefer seeing van Gogh's The Starry Night in person.”  He also says that the online art is generating measurably high social media, the kind of traction that brands like Coke and Pepsi pay a lot of money to get, and we're just getting it based on these beautiful works of art.”  Sood charts the cautious respect between old and new, “museums have been around for hundreds of years, and [we]'ve been around for only 10” but thinks that online will be increasingly essential to museums and that the ‘golden age of the internet’ is still to come.  Guardian

Tate: from 'Little Britain' to international institution

Writing for the Art Newspaper, Director Nick Serota describes how the Tate's focus is shifting from purely national concerns and collections, to responding to a globalised world.  He writes, "Tate has been broadening the geographical scope of its international collections since the early 2000s ...we now have seven regionally focused acquisition committees. Our strategy is to build an integrated contemporary 'global' art and displays about the historic avant garde and their legacies". Tate is also co-producing shows with international specialists, such as the recent Mira Schendel retrospective: Schendel is a household name in Brazil, but a far less familiar artist in the UK. He adds that when the Tate's collections were first being formed in the 19th century, they were primarily aimed at a British audience.  This is no longer the case - both online and physical visitors are now from all corners of the planet. Art Newspaper (subscription only for this article)

Blending old and new: museums of the future

Nick Poole of the Collections Trust reflects in a short film about how digital is shaping museums, and why.  He says that the idea of the ‘object in the glass case’ and museum jobs divided by digital, outreach and curatorial will gradually metamorphose in the face of a generation whose whole approach is interactive.  He argues that the industries whose business models are suffering the most at the moment  - like publishing and newspapers - are those built on the idea of inequality of access, in a world where information is increasingly to hand. He says that the museum sector is not necessarily resistant to changing its ‘150 year old model’ , but waiting, like many other organisations, to see what financially viable new models will emerge. He argues though that the sector will end up ‘giving users the tools to construct their own experience’ rather than presenting a single narrative which they must accept.  Collections Link

ACE first report on creating sustainable museums

Arts Council England has been working with Julie’s Bicycle to produce the report Sustaining Great Art, which looks at the environmental sustainability of 704 ACE major revenue-funded institutions.  The year one report includes:
  • Julie’s Bicycle has estimated a carbon footprint of 94,000 tonnes from 56% of the institutions covered, representing an energy spend of 21m (scaled up to cover all institutions, this goes up to roughly £26m);
  • 90% of all the 704 organisations approached engaged to some degree in environmental reporting; and
  • larger organisations and cultural buildings have the greater impact with just 28 generating 50 per cent of the 2012/13 carbon footprint. While in general these organisations find it easier to meet reporting requirements, some are in the early stages of taking action, others are making rapid progress, while some are outstanding. 
Maurice Davies for the Museums Association points out that Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Arnolfini Centre for Contemporary Arts in Bristol are in the bottom 1% of energy-efficient non-domestic buildings in England and Wales.  The Arts Council says that those in the earliest stages of exploring sustainability are the most likely to be able to make gains in future reports.  Museums Journal, Arts Council Back to top

  Some exhibition highlights for 2014
We have drawn together 2014 highlights from National Museum Directors’ Council members' museums. You can see the extended list to date here – we will be adding further venues and events during the rest of January and you will find more highlights in our February newsletter.

Some Big Beasts

At opposite ends of the UK, two museums are resurrecting the mammoths (and a few other prehistoric creatures) for major 2014 exhibitions.  The Natural History Museum’s Mammoths: Ice Age Giants features life size models of mammoths as well as huge fossils. Tusk jousting, trunk moving and feeling the weight of the hundreds of kilos of food mammoths ate each day will help visitors imagine a mammothy world. Meanwhile National Museums Scotland’s Mammoths of the Ice Age includes objects from some of the oldest human art in existence to woolly mammoth hair, preserved mammoth dung and a replica of Lyuba, the 40,000 year old baby mammoth. Found in 2007 in the frozen wastes of Russia, she is the best-preserved mammoth ever discovered. The British Museum’s Vikings: Life and Legend is the first major Viking exhibition at the museum in 30 years.  At the centre of the exhibition will be the surviving timbers of a 37-metre-long Viking warship, the longest ever found.

Lords of Misrule

The V&A’s Disobedient Objects explores the powerful role of objects in movements for social change.  Activism also drives design ingenuity: objects on display range from suffragette teapots to finely woven banners, defaced currency, changing designs for barricades and blockades, political videogames, an inflatable general assembly to facilitate consensus decision-making, experimental activist-bicycles and textiles bearing witness to political murders. The National Maritime Museum’s Longitude Punk’d brings the goth-techno-Victorian ethos of the steampunk movement to bear on the history of inventions presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828.  The exhibition contains “both fantastical inventions and real historic objects - blurring the boundaries between art and science, fiction and fact.” The British Library’s Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK is the first time a major institution has brought together a history of comics. It includes some of the biggest names in comics, include Alan Moore (of V for Vendetta) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman) Its materials unflinchingly examine issues around gender, violence, sexuality, drug-taking and politics. Restoring order, the Museum of London’s major exhibition for 2014 is about Sherlock Holmes. The exhibition will look at how, more than 100 years after his inception, the London detective still endures.

New beginnings

Several institutions are opening major new galleries or reopening whole museums.  The Oxford University Museum of Natural History reopens to the public following a year’s closure for repairs to its magnificent glass-tiled roof. It  will run a re-emergence programme of high-profile speakers and other special events. The V&A’s Europe galleries (1600 – 1800) will reopen in December, displaying some of the most elaborate works of art and design in the museum’s collections.  And, also following work to its roof to let in the light, while protecting the paintings inside, the Wallace Collection’s Great Gallery will reopen in September.

FWW centenary exhibitions

A very large number of museums have produced exhibitions for the centenary of First World War. York Museums Trust has put their 1914 exhibition at the heart of a £1.7m HLF redevelopment project at the museum. They will be combining new technology with their extensive collection to take visitors on a journey from the recruitment office to the front line. When war broke out in August 1914, Brighton and Hove were largely unaffected, with the holiday season in full swing. However, within a month, refugee families fleeing from Belgium and wounded soldiers from the Western Front were beginning to arrive, and the Royal Pavillion became a military hospital.  Brighton and Hove Museums will be charting these extraordinary events with Dr Brighton which looks at Brighton as a hospital town, Voices from the First World War and Steeplechasing Shell Holes: A Young Man’s War. A new gallery at the National Maritime Museum celebrates Forgotten Fighters and explores the maritime aspects of the conflict.

Current vacancies on the NMDC jobs website include: See the full selection of current jobs at NMDC members' organisations here.

  And finally….
Economic factors are among the most significant in excluding the young from culture, both as visitors and workers in the sector.  This not entirely flattering short film starring Orlando the well-heeled serial internee, backed by Creative Cultural Skills and the Arts Council, contains a more serious plea for internships that are within reach of the sector’s less wealthy young talent.  (CCS is also offering schemes to give financial help to employers who give paid opportunities to young workers.)  Creative & Cultural Skills  Back to top

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If you have any comments or contributions for the newsletter please send them to the Editor, Kate Smith, at [email protected].
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