The Arts Council England has published a review on Equality and Diversity within the Arts and Cultural Sector in England (September 2014). Key recommendations are:
- Undertake in-depth qualitative research to explore arts and cultural participation and attendance barriers and motivations among people with different disabilities, within different ethnic groups and at different ages
- Undertake in-depth qualitative research to explore gender-based tastes and preferences for arts and culture among boys and girls aged under-15, and the influence of parental behaviours and attitudes on child participation. Such research could be complemented by identification of effective practice across the sector in engaging and involving boys and young men in arts and culture
- Complete literature reviews and qualitative research to identify workforce development and change management models that support leaders within the sector to transform organisational cultures and develop a more equal and diverse workforce
- In the context of the arts and cultural sector, undertake in-depth qualitative research on equality and diversity issues facing the protected groups of sexual orientation, religion and/or belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage or civil partnership status or gender re-assignment
- Undertake additional quantitative data analysis of key datasets such as the Taking Part Survey, particularly across protected characteristics (e.g. by sexual orientation, ethnic groups within the 2011 census categories) where there has thus far been limited analysis
- Complete a focused literature review specifically on equality and diversity issues in relation to the library sector.
Debate on the balance of funding to national and regional organizations by the Arts Council England has been continuing through 2014. The authors of the report Rebalancing our Cultural Capital produced a further report focusing on Arts Lottery funding in the UK: Policy for the Lottery, Arts and Community in England, which examined the approach of the Arts Council to allocating lottery-derived funding. Further evidence is set out on the RoCC and PLACE websites.
Most recently, the UK parliament's House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee has published the report of an inquiry on the Work of Arts Council England. The report emphasises the importance of the Arts Council's funding, but recommends a need to change the balance of funding to favour regional arts, culture and (non-national) museums provision outside Greater London. Concerns are raised on falling central government funding and there is seen to be a need for development of thinking on philanthropy and the role of local councils.
Using the phrase "Australian museums must innovate or risk becoming digital dinosaurs", CSIRO has published Innovation Study: Challenges and Opportunities for Australia’s Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. The GLAM sector is changing as a result of changes in access, sharing and engaging with digital and social media. This is creating new forms of competition for the sector, challenging traditional authority and expertise and driving fundamental changes in interactions with GLAM organisations and their collections.
The study asks: what are the key transformations this sector needs to make to thrive in the emerging digital environment of the next two decades? Australia is seen as having areas of excellence, but a need for more widespread development and adoption of good models from elsewhere in the world
The study makes three recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Four Strategic Initiatives
- Making the public part of what we do – aiming for a deep transformation, both in the professional disciplines in the GLAM sector and in the organizations’ relationship to the public. This argues for a shift from traditional authority to a more “porous” approach to diverse contribution and collaboration. A fundamental shift to open access, open sharing and greater collaboration is essential.
- Becoming central to community wellbeing - wellbeing a central part of each organisation’s purpose and vision. Use physical spaces and collections in fostering community memory, sense of self and pride, economic benefit, and community health and resilience for an ageing and diverse population.
- Beyond digitisation – creative reuse - shift from the difficulties of digitisation to possibilities of creative reuse. A transition from a “push” to a “pull” model where publics are engaged from the beginning and help pull through digitised content based on specific needs, which shapes the form of digitisation and allows for creative reuse to build cycles of creativity in which new or reshaped digital objects join the ‘collection’.
- Developing funding for strategic initiatives – with falling government funding, a need to shift more to funding from philanthropy, corporate and direct community support. Sector needs ways to fund big, strategic initiatives that reposition for the digital era..
Recommendation 2: A National Framework for Collaboration
- Cross-sector collaboration is crucial for innovation, resource and knowledge sharing in:
- Digitisation and access - sharing skills, standards and approaches for digitisation and collaborating on linking and aggregation initiatives like Trove, the Atlas of Living Australia and Linked Open Data.
- Digital preservation - requires a coordinated, national, cross-sector, standards-based approach to avoid losing access to digital heritage.
- National approaches to rights - unified approach to copyright, orphan works, rights of traditional owners at the same time as stimulates creativity and supports creators.
- Skills and organisational change - closing gap between leading practice and the national mainstream.
- Shared infrastructure - sharing capability, storage and networks in the sector, exploiting the potential of AARNet and the NBN for connection and collaboration.
- Transdisciplinary collaboration and research partnerships - communication and collaboration between professional disciplines and cultures in the sector.
Recommendation 3: National Leadership & Collaboration Forum
- Common forum for conversation, leadership and pursuit of concrete initiatives. Also consider a charitable foundation to support cross-sector strategic initiatives along the lines of Europeana, the Public Catalogue Foundation of the UK and the Digital Public Library of America.
The GLAM innovation study website also has links and resources.
The changing landscape of culture, arts and museum funding in the UK in 2014 means that organisations and coalitions are developing advocacy toolkits to promote their perspective and identity to government, funders, the public and other stakeholders. Examples include:
- Arts Council England has produced an easy advocacy toolkit for broad use across the arts and culture sector, including museums;
- the South West Museum Development Programme has produced a local advocacy toolkit for museums
- Museum Development Northwest has produced natural history collections toolkits for general use and specific use on areas of the England National Curriculum
- The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales has produced an advocacy toolkit with a draft advocacy strategy and case study examples
The UK parliament's Environmental Audit Committee has published the report of its inquiry on An Environmental Scorecard for the UK. It finds that the UK government, despite policy commitments, has fallen short in a number of key respects. In summary:
The committee recommends the government should develop an overarching Environment Strategy to:
- set out strategic principles to guide the action needed to improve the quality of protection over the next 5, 10 and 25 years;
- include the actions and good practices required in local government, as well as the actions needed in central Government to help bring those changes about;
- facilitate a more informed discussion between central and local government about environment resource funding requirements for local authorities;
- encompass a clear assessment of the state of the environment including in each of the 10 environmental areas covered in our report;
- identify the research and analysis work that needs to be done and coordinated to fill gaps in the data that that such assessment requires;
- map appropriate policy levers to each environmental area and set out a clear statement on the place of regulation, public engagement and fiscal incentives as complementary measures. Such a Strategy should involve, for example, a reconsideration of the scope for greater hypothecation of environmental taxes to support expenditure on environmental protection programmes;
It also recommends the establishment of an Office for Environmental Resposibility to:
- review the Environment Strategy we advocate;
- advise Government on appropriate targets;
- advise Government on policies, both those in Government programmes and new ones that could be brought forward to support the
- advise Government about the adequacy of the resources (in both central and local government) made available for delivering the Strategy; and
- monitor and publish performance against the Strategy and its targets
Welcome to Policy: Science, Biodiversity and Museums
This site covers a wide range of policy issues relating to biodiversity, museums and science. It's selective and although it's a blog it is more alert than comment. John Jackson from the Natural History Museum in London maintains the site, primarily to alert colleagues and collaborators to new developments - you can use the contact link on the top right of this page. It is not an official organisational site.