Being an international in the creative sector

Photo of Concorde
12 Feb 2018

Julie Bécaud, now a researcher at the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains her first steps into the arts in the UK.

Art Fund grants support curatorial talent

20 Jan 2022

Four curators have been awarded a share of £150,000 through Art Fund's New Collecting Awards.

Louis Platman (Museum of the Home), Keri Adams (The Pier Arts Centre), Zorian Clayton (V&A) and Daniel Lowe (British Library) are this year's recipients, each receiving a budget for acquisitions alongside funding for research, travel, training and mentoring support.

The New Collecting Awards scheme has awarded 39 curators more than £1.8m over the past seven years.

Director Jenny Waldman said the award is a key part of Art Fund's commitment to developing curatorial talent.

"We are delighted to support these brilliant projects that will allow the UK's world class museums to tell more inclusive and diverse stories and help make their collections more relevant to their audiences and communities."

Horniman Museum plants micro-forest

11 Jan 2022

The Horniman Museum is planting a micro-forest on its site.

A 300m2 area of the south London museum's grounds is being redeveloped into a 'green screen', protecting its gardens from noise and air pollution and creating new habitats for local wildlife.

Plans were made possible following a successful fundraising appeal. The museum estimates it lost about £150,000 each month it was closed due to Covid-19.

Horniman's Head of Horticulture Errol Fernandes said donors have "played a vital part in creating something that will benefit our local environment for decades to come".

Planting will continue through the winter and into early spring.

Leaders take top honours in New Years list

Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
07 Jan 2022

Over 90 arts professionals were recognised for services to the sector in 2021.

Heritage key to historic town growth, report finds

15 Dec 2021

Heritage-led regeneration is key for growth in Britain’s historic town centres, according to planning consultants Lichfields.

The company's Historic Opportunities report says heritage assests must be repurposed in “ambitious and creative” ways, citing environmental, economic and social benefits.

Analysis of Towns Fund, Future High Streets Fund and Levelling Up Fund applications revealed heritage regeneration to be one of six funding themes. 90% of Towns Fund bids intend to use at least part of their grant for heritage-led regeneration.

The report’s lead author James Fryatt says future projects should focus on reusing assets, with the average vacancy rate of historic high streets and towns at about 14%.

“This will see historic buildings increasingly adapted to reflect changes in retail and growing demand for leisure activities and creative and flexible workspaces."

Lichfield Heritage Director Nick Bridgland added: “Our report points to a successful future for those historic towns that take advantage of the available funding and adopt a fresh approach to heritage-led regeneration work."

Curators and librarians among 'most trusted' professions

13 Dec 2021

Museum curators and librarians rank among the top five most trusted professions in the UK, according to a survey by Ipsos Mori.

93% of Britons said they trust librarians to tell the truth, second only to nurses at 94%.

It's the first time librarians have made it into the top of the index, which confirms growing distrust in the police and slightly more trust in politicians, journalists and professional footballers.

86% of people trust museum curators, up four percentage points since last year, the survey found.

English museums tighten Covid measures

01 Dec 2021

Museums across the UK are tightening their Covid measures in light of the Omicron variant.

The Museum Associations reports many museums are making "contingency plans" for Christmas rotas, fearing a return to the staff shortages caused by self-isolation rules last year.

In accordance with Government guidance for retail, face masks are now mandatory in The National Gallery and The British Museum's shops. Both institutions recommend face coverings throughout their premises unless exempt.

The V&A, Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum and Yorkshire Air Museum are amongst those now asking visitors to wear masks in all their public spaces.

Face coverings remain mandatory in all museums across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

ACE diversifies curatorial advisory panel

01 Dec 2021

The funder wants to "embed a diversity of perspectives, skills and expertise" but acknowledges the change may not be happen fast enough for some.

Fund to boost heritage volunteers' digital skills

29 Nov 2021

Seventeen heritage projects across the UK will share £1m to improve volunteers' digital skills.

The money comes from the National Lottery Heritage Fund's Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

The fund aims to break down barriers and inspire the sector to get more people involved in heritage, according to National Lottery Heritage Fund CEO Ros Kerslake.

Charity for the blind and partially sighted Vocal Eyes received the largest grant (£99,814) for its Museums and Heritage Access 2022 programme, which primarily recruits digital volunteers from Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent communities.

Royal Pavilion and Museum Trust eyes restructure

24 Nov 2021

A restructure of The Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust (RPMT) will save £300,000 and affect more than a quarter of jobs, it is anticipated.

The trust, which manages Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and four other museums in the city, says the changes will result in "a more efficient and successful service”.

The restructure will establish new "income raising teams". CEO Hedley Swain says the charity will do "everything" it can to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"We’re hoping to become a stronger organisation for the future... Our five venues will benefit from a more unified vision as we all work together to create a stronger family of venues."

The consultation will be completed in January 2022, with changes announced thereafter.

£300k to deepen curators' collection knowledge

22 Nov 2021

Eleven museum professionals will share a £302,500 fund aimed at deepening their knowledge of chosen collections.

The Headley Fellowship with Art Fund programme, administered by the Headley Trust and Art Fund, has supported 22 curators since its inception in 2018. This year’s cohort represents museums across England and Scotland and collections of textiles, Scottish pottery and Egyptology, among others.

The fund covers the cost of filling a curator’s post for up to six months and up to £4,000 to support each fellow’s professional development.

The curators will organise exhibitions, digitise collections and share knowledge between museums.

“With this support, [curators] can take time away from the growing day-to-day pressures of their roles to focus on research that will lead to new ways to engage the public with their collections,” said Headley Trust’s Helen McLeod.

Scientists boycott Science Museum amid new sponsorship claims

22 Nov 2021

Leading scientists have boycotted the Science Museum until it announces a moratorium on fossil fuel funding.

An open letter signed by over 60 professionals, including former Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Robert Watson, says they “can no longer be complicit" in the policies adopted by the museum.

“This means publicly committing not to renew any existing contracts when they expire, or to form any new ones until, at the very least, the company demonstrates a credible plan for phasing out fossil fuels in line with the Paris 1.5°C target,” it continues.

The letter follows criticism of the Science Museum’s sponsorship agreements with oil giants Shell and Adani, which led to the resignation of its former director and two trustees, and comes amid new claims the institution signed a similar 'gagging clause' with Adani as it it did Shell.

The contract prohibits the museum from making "any statement or issue any publicity or otherwise be involved in any conduct or matter that may reasonably be forsseen as discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation" of Adani Green Energy.

The Science Museum did not apply its own standards for ethical sponsorship to the Adani's parent group because the deal is with Adani Green Energy.

However, newly released documents suggest Adani Group negotiated the partnership.

"In the wake of COP26, there is no justification for providing positive PR to companies heavily involved in fossil fuel extraction," said Culture Unstained Co-Director Jess Worth.

"It’s time [the Science Museum] admitted their mistake and engaged with those who care so deeply about the museum’s future that they are willing to pass up paid work and prestigious opportunities to make their concerns heard."

£16m to redevelop gallery into heritage site

18 Nov 2021

Plans to redevelop Oldham's library and art gallery into a £16m heritage site have been approved.

The new attraction will contribute to long-held ambitions for a cultural quarter in the town after a £27m redevelopment plan for the Coliseum theatre was axed.

This is the second attempt to create a heritage centre in Oldham: a plan was approved in 2018 but more stabilising works were needed.

The building will house Oldham's museum and archives, emphasising the town's historic role in the cotton industry.

Manchester Museum to pilot poverty awareness training

16 Nov 2021

Manchester Museum staff will be trained as social justice researchers for a pilot addressing understanding of poverty and disadvantage.

Led by University of Manchester researchers, Local Matters will explore local and national poverty and use its findings to influence museum practice and policy.

“Too often policy makers and practitioners see poverty as having a simple beginning, middle and end. It is viewed as something that can be fixed if we all just 'do better,'” research fellow Carl Emery explained.

The museum will then make decisions with social justice, poverty and disadvantage in mind, according to Director Esme Ward.

Manchester Museum is currently closed whilst work on the final phase of its £13.5m restoration is completed. It is expected to reopen next year.

Gallery partnership to address youth violence

12 Nov 2021

A new gallery at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds will take "a unique public health led approach to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime".

The project with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit of specialists across police, health, education, justice and youth services is due to open in January. 

It will feature Operation Jemlock - a police operation that confiscated hundreds of weapons and led to some 6,000 arrests over the past year. The partners also plan to work with community groups to tell real-life stories of youth violence.

The unit's director Chief Superintendent Jackie Marsh said engagement is crucial to long-term improvements in violent crime rates.

Dr Edward Impey, Director General & Master of the Armouries, said the institution shows how human experience is shaped by arms and armour to this day: "This is not a purely historical matter."

‘At the Sharp End: Tackling Violent Crime Together in West Yorkshire’ will be exhibited for six months and is expected to engage more than 100,000 people before touring the wider region.

Museums await answers over urgent building repairs

10 Nov 2021

A delayed and oversubscribed fund is about £100m smaller than first pledged - and maintenance issues are growing.

National Gallery finds historical connections to slavery

09 Nov 2021

Sixty-seven individuals associated with the National Gallery's history had connections to slavery and abolition, research has found.

Launched in 2018, the gallery's project is reviewing whether its historical collectors, trustees, donors, painters and founders benefited from the slave trade, or had links to slavery and the abolitionist movement.

It has covered years 1824 to 1880 thus far, finding a further 79 individuals with no relation to slavery or abolition.

The work is a collaboration with University College London’s Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery, who are creating an online archive to present the data.

Work has begun on the project’s third phase, covering years 1880 to 1920, before a final phase investigating picture owners from 1640 is launched. 

Museums Association releases decolonisation guidance

08 Nov 2021

Museums should be brave, accountable and "aim for justice" in decolonising their practices and collections.

The Museums Association (MA) has released Supporting Decolonisation in Museums, offering ten guiding principles and advice on how to reach these objectives.

The association says statues and the names of buildings, streets, and galleries "send a clear message of whose presence is considered important and whose is not".

"Although this issue can cause controversy and debate in the media, it is an important part of decolonising work.

"Decolonising museums requires creating spaces that no longer celebrate historic and ongoing acts of colonial violence, whether through removing names, removing or recontextualizing statues, or commissioning artists to engage critically with this inheritance." 

The guidance was produced by MA’s Decolonisation Guidance Working Group, established following a 2019 report into the growing field.

Group Chair Rachael Minnot said working group members "challenged one another" throughout the process.

"I’m excited to keep learning and growing with the wider sector as they engage with this tool."

Over 60,000 sign Cinema Museum petition

08 Nov 2021

An online petition to secure the future of South London’s Cinema Museum has received over 60,000 signatures.

It was sent to the museum’s landlord, property developers Lifestory, on Friday (November 5) in response to the expiration of its lease.

Lifestory's planning application to build a 29-storey tower on the Dugard Way site was rejected by Lambeth City Council.

The petition calls for Lifestory to be “fair to the museum”.

“2022 will see either the salvation or the destruction of this important piece of UK cinema and film heritage,” Director and Co-Founder Martin Humphries commented.

The museum estimates it had more than 20,000 visitors per year before the pandemic. A 2020 Crowdfunder campaign raised £75,000 to help the museum survive closure during Covid restrictions.

Universities return looted bronzes to Nigeria

01 Nov 2021

Two universities have become the first UK institutions to return Benin bronze artifacts to Nigeria.

Cambridge University returned a bronze cockerel, known as the Okukur, looted by British colonial forces in 1897 and given to the University’s Jesus College in 1905. The decision to return the bronze piece was made in 2019 following student protests.  

"It’s massively significant. It’s a momentous occasion," said Jesus College Master Sonita Alleyne.

Aberdeen University has followed suit, after a panel unanimously decided to return a looted sculpture depicting Oba (King) of Benin to Nigeria on Thursday (October 28).

Oba of Benin Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Ewuare II thanked Aberdeen University for the "noble act".

"We hope that other institutions worldwide will see the injustice when they insist on holding on to items which in fact should be a reminder to them of the great injustice that was inflicted on a people so far away and so long ago."

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