New beginnings

I’ve been doing some thinking about what learning might look like after the current lockdown in museums, galleries, community gardens and other charities. Although there are a lot of reports and guidance out there, practically and personally the impact of Foot and Mouth Disease in the early 2000s is the only basis that I have to go on. After months of closures then part closure before re-opening, the independent museum I worked for at the time barely made it through. We were left to re-build the audiences and the coffers – and I know that we were extremely lucky to have support from volunteers, trustees, the Friends, local businesses and grant funders to support the hard work and see us through to what is a now thriving charity, and will continue to be through the continued support of the aforementioned.

With this experience plus the support and reports already coming through and the networks that we all have, I know that things will be just as tough in the coming months and years as they were then, however we will grow and thrive again.

An artwork from Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago, August 2019, that’s still giving me a feeling hope through this time.

With the new tax year beginning and currently being furloughed, it means that I have time to start thinking and planning seriously for the future. I started a sideline last July as a heritage education consultant and I believe that now is perfect for considering business cases and future planning. So I’ve been considering Paul’s “takeaway” that he passed to me a month ago on our last MRL programme’s residential together.

“If you can help someone, why wouldn’t you?”

Paul Khan

Why do I do what I do?

I truly believe that everyone should have access to the arts, heritage and nature. That, as a medium to help make meaning for ourselves and our society, inspire creativity and critical thinking skills these elements and how we interact with them make a huge difference through small interactions. After this period in our history, they will have an immense importance even more so than before, however what this looks like and our audiences needs will have changed.

Narrow boating on the canal near Skipton.

The collections, narratives and spaces that we are guardians of provide a multitude of ways to engage and support people of all ages and abilities, whether that is in Early Years development, service learning opportunities for young people, lifelong learning or just space to breath and enjoy. They make a small difference in someone’s life that can lead to – well wherever that person goes.

So why do I do this?

To make a difference, no matter how big or small, in someone’s life. A safe space for a family to create special memories, a place where that 14 year old volunteer finds that they’re not the only one who cares about history or art, an opportunity to look at a piece of art in a new way and discover something new or planting wildflower seeds to encourage bees into your garden.

so what do I want to do?

I want to help.

I want to help that independent museum, that community garden, that charity to do what they do best – engage their audiences through experiences and learning opportunities that provide high quality learning environments and engagement with the arts, heritage and nature for everyone.

Through helping to train volunteers, developing learning plans and tours, looking at risk assessments for learning projects, and so much more I know I can help small, independent museums and charities to become resilient and sustainable, rebuild their audiences and continue to provide amazing opportunities for their visitors and learners.

So how can I help you?

(c) Melissa Kate Maynard

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