Annual Reports - Museums Association

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Annual Reports

Our latest Annual Report details our work in 2022/23 across the UK.

The old adage that ‘the only constant is change’ certainly felt true for museums in 2022.

Gillian Findlay, Museums Association president

International and domestic turmoil in the economy and the environment, and in political and public life, coupled with societal attempts to find new, different ways of living, working and connecting post-pandemic, brought a seemingly endless, accelerated cycle of change. The cost of living crisis significantly added to the sense of turbulence, impacting both museums and their communities, and bringing fresh challenges for us all.

At the Museums Association (MA), we listened to members’ concerns about burnout, financial stress, the need to support each other and to connect meaningfully with diverse communities. We responded with a sustained programme of advocacy across the four nations, and by launching a new workforce and community wellbeing campaign based on research with over 650 museum workers and sector organisations.

This focus on wellbeing was not contained by our borders. The Benevolent Fund, established to alleviate financial distress suffered by MA members and to support the education and training of museums and galleries personnel, instituted a new stream in 2022 to support museum professionals in Ukraine where the war with Russia continues.

Our longstanding campaign for inclusive museums embeds the requirement for fair working conditions, and so it felt both important and timely that we also published our updated Salary Research and Recommendations, encouraging employers and funders to address the issue of chronic low pay, negotiate better salaries and advocate for long term reform.

The workforce research we undertook confirmed the urgent need to invest in people at all stages of their career path if we are to ensure a relevant, thriving and confident sector that feels empowered to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

To achieve this, we reviewed our professional development offer, continuing our established programmes, the Associateship of the MA (AMA) and Fellowship of the MA (FMA), launching a new competency framework, a tool to self-assess individual development needs, and publishing our annual Careers Guide to advise those looking to start a career in the sector.

We built on the work of last year to launch a new campaign and Museum Essentials course on anti-racism, with a call for action and creation of an anti-racism resources bank on our website.

We also consolidated our campaign to support decolonising work in museums across the UK. Following publication of the Supporting Decolonisation in Museums guidance last year, with support from sector partners we created a Decolonisation Confidence and Skills programme for museum staff, and a Museum Essentials course on decolonisation.

Both of these themes were explored in depth at our annual hybrid conference, which was held in Edinburgh in 2022, and once again successfully attracted people from across the UK and internationally to challenge, support and reflect on key sector issues of the day.

As ever, our work with partners to advocate jointly, and to practically support innovation and good practice, has been critical. Important examples this year include our review and relaunch of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, evolving its approach to support inclusion work with collections and covering applicants’ core costs.

We also launched the Bold Futures programme with the Wellcome Trust, a series of workshops and grants to explore values-led, strategic futures for STEM engagement in museums and science centres.

After publishing a themed issue of Museums Journal on how museums are responding to the climate crisis and highlighting the launch of our Museums for Climate Justice campaign, the importance of working collaboratively if we are to play our part in effecting positive change is clear.

Annual General Meeting 2023

The report also contains the agenda for our Annual General Meeting, which is being held digitally, working with our independent voting provider MiVoice to allow all members to vote before and during the AGM session at our annual conference on 7 November 2023.

The AGM session will open with a keynote from our president, and finish with the announcement of the winners of the Museums Change Lives Awards.

All individual members and membership contacts at member organisations will receive emails on 24 October 2023 detailing how to vote on the agenda items. Members can view the agenda in the links below.

The main agenda items are the individual and institutional membership fees. For the past three years we have frozen rates to support our members with the impacts of the pandemic. This year, with inflation having been at very high levels for some time and the costs of delivering our work increasing, we propose a below-inflation increase in bands and fees.

We continue to recognise the financial concerns of all our members and the likelihood that many individuals and organisations will not be receiving pay or budget increases near current inflation levels. We therefore propose a 4.5% increase.

For our institutional members, this proposal sees bands as well as fees increasing, meaning that some organisations may pay significantly less. Increases in individual membership fees are £2 per annum for essential members, £3 per annum for concessionary members and £4 per annum for full members. Institutional members will pay between £3 and £106 more per annum, with the majority increasing by £9 or less.