This bulletin feels like it needs to reflect on an extraordinary fortnight following the death of George Floyd in America, which is highly relevant for those of us who care for or feel a responsibility for our heritage.
In the news and throughout social media, it has been a mesh of assumptions, knowledge, ignorance and complex history which has proved very hard to tackle without conversations derailing.
We cannot ignore it for various reasons. It is hard to find any collection, or town or city or area of land which does not contain a thread leading back to an uncomfortable past whether it is slavery or goods produced through slavery, or suppression closer to home. We – you – are the custodians of this story, in our museums, landscapes and buildings.
The fact is that diversity is going to be front and centre, even more than it is at present. It is very difficult to unravel, and to find the right path, so all we can do for now is explore our stories and think about how we might tackle them.
These are a few links, as ever not just from a Scottish perspective. https://www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/01062020-call-for-collective-anti-racist-action-black-lives-matter-protests active call for museums to take this on
https://www.museumsassociation.org/download?id=1194934 Tackling diversity in museums
https://crowdriff.com/resources/blog/cultural-diversity-in-museums tactics for inclusive marketing
https://sustainingplaces.com/race-in-museums/ Lots of ideas and talking pointshttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10598650.2017.1306664 Interesting ‘allyship’ in America
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/16/tackling-racial-injustice-through-education article on education
https://www.museumaction.org/massaction-blog very proactive approaches
https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/news/black-lives-matter-race-and-equality-at-the-va at the V&A
https://phm.org.uk/blog/category/racism/ People’s HIstory Museum Manchester – shorter pieces, audience focussed
If you feel you want to make a statement from your organisation, you could perhaps take a leaf out of Historic England’s book, who have been widely praised. They put out a tweet that clearly stood with the Black Lives Matter movement, and then the social media team patiently responded to the torrent of support and abuse that followed, and took the loss of member subscriptions on the chin. Once it was done, they deleted the tweet. The moral of the tale is that you won’t please everyone, so it is a case of deciding who you want your audience to be if you go down this route, and then managing the process closely.
It was in this atmosphere that many of us joined the EU-LAC Community-based museums in times of crisis (coronavirus) seminar last Friday. It was inspiring, and felt like it had added agency amidst the boiling seas of these times. There is so much we can do with our community heritage.
‘Community museums are much better equipped to deal with the crisis … they are not a building, a collection, a public made of tourists, they are made by and of the community, they are linked with the community and with the landscape … they need just to look at their heritage and to try to improve their knowledge of these things which are around them.’ Hugues de Varine.
‘Conflicts of interest and extreme inequalities have shown up in this crisis. [The task is] not just about adaptation, the task is also to analyse how the situation can be transformed – not adapt, transform – to contribute to deeper change. Our museums activate the voice and perspectives of our communities – a collective tool to defend our rights as peoples’ Teresa Morales.
It was recorded so you can still watch it online: https://www.facebook.com/eulacmuseums/?__tn__=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARDUg9KE5Ms4fVqmssbFeO8_X9H8w9mPG3Hn3lkOH9DboFdiGPPLMDooBR3ArgF6Km9xxQxold083WYx
There are two more coming up and you can register here:
Webinar 2: Monday 29 June, 15:00 (UTC), 16:00 (UK [BST])
Webinar 3: Friday 10 July, 15:00 (UTC), 16:00 (UK [BST])
Funding – looking towards recovery and renewal
There are many lead organisations now talking about the next phase, although it would be fair to say that people who work at the coal face of heritage are frustrated by how long it is taking to get funding programmes up and active. There is not much yet to be had.
Digital Fund Museums Galleries Scotland: apologies – I got this wrong last week. it looks like the fund is still open and ALL museums (including non-accredited can apply). It will close when the money is used up https://museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/funding/digital-resilience-covid-19-fund/ Don’t forget the XPOnorth digital workshops which are still going, and past and future ones can be found on their Heritage Studio facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/heritagestudio/learning_content/ It’s been lovely to see so many familiar faces at the sessions.
National Lottery Community Fund to move towards recovery and renewal: I can’t believe the shortness of the deadline for this new fund, but get your skates on!! Closes 25th June! It is UK wide, £20k – £50k. Not this is NOT heritage but is all community-based projects https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/emerging-futures-fund#section-2
Art Fund: This is another grant which looks forward to renewal and recovery. It closes on Monday 6th July. Slightly different.https://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/programmes/respond-and-reimagine-grants
The Heritage Fund urgent response fund: this closes on 30th June so this is the last gasp. There are two levels of support, up to £250k. You have to be:
- a not-for-profit organisation
- a current or previous recipient of a grant directly from us for a project relating to a heritage asset at risk
- an owner or manager of a heritage asset that is at risk due to the financial needs of your organisation over the next 4 months
If your circumstances have changed and become more urgent you can still apply – or if you did apply and they didn’t award, then go back and talk to them to discuss where you are now. You never know. https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/heritage-emergency-fund/50-250k
Finally this is not a fund but a long and troubling read on the projected impact of Covid 19 on the creative industries: https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/publications/report-projected-economic-impact-covid-19-uk-creative-industries
That’s all folks for this week. Some good stuff and new directions planned for the next bulletin.