After a few days at the GEM Conference chatting with colleagues and discussing good practice and listening to inspiring key note speeches and hearing about some amazing projects in the sector I thought that I’d share some key takeaways for me and some twitter links.
What better way to start a new blog?
So the theme this year was forging dynamic and lasting partnerships with communities and please note some of these takeaways are more of a reminder than a light-bulb moment!
- Should we start using the term communities not community to reflect the multiplicity of the community?
- We should constantly challenge what communities mean
- Who is not in the room and why?
- The who means both audiences and team members.
- Usually the answer to the why is that the museum/gallery/historic site isn’t doing enough.
- Start from zero and be open to other approaches and agendas
- Working with, by, for our communities should never be an optional add on – they are key
- Build reflective practice into everyday working
- Always call on your critical friends and use them wisely and in a timely manner throughout your daily work – they’re out there within and outside the Trust
- Ensure that our work is not tokenistic and that we build long lasting relationships with trust – it’s not a tick box exercise
- The money is the means not the end!
- Access preferences are key to meeting audience’s needs not their illness/disability – find out more about the EU funded research behind this at https://www.arches-project.eu/
- Grow interdisciplinary practice – bring in external skills – actively listen to, respect and learn from them
- Working together:
- Invest time at the start to understand US
- Map the assets and resources that we HAVE
- Find the balance between what WE want and what the GROUP wants – we need to stop hijacking the projects!
- Be transparent about budget and outputs
- Manage expectations
- If it goes pear-shaped –
- Be honest
- admit what went wrong
- hold our hands up and say we will do better next time
The GEM roundups for each day can be found here:
Some other people’s takeaways:
Strategic funding framework for 19-24 have the three following priorities:
- Community heritage made as accessible as possible
- Inclusive heritage
- Public involvement
Melissa Strauss’ guidance was:
- Address local challenges and needs (wider issues ad benefits)
- Think about ownership and power – “communities see their heritage tidied up and given back to them” this isn’t what is needed or wanted
- New guidance on community participation is coming!
Culture, Health & Wellbeing guidance:
- Recommend that you should focus on system change not one-off interventions
- Take part in Creativity and Wellbeing Week 18-24 May 2020
- Take a look at https://www.ahsw.org.uk/regional-strategy/
- Join up at https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/join-us (it’s free!)
If you’re interested in ‘youth’ engagement and want to check out an inspirational and aspirational project: Brent 2020 https://twitter.com/gem_heritage/status/1172079341842440192
So those are my musings from the inspiring and supportive GEM conference 2019.
NB GEM stands Group for Education in Museums and their website is http://www.gem.org.uk
(c) Melissa Kate Maynard