President, Museums Association
In 2018-19, another year defined by change and uncertainty both in the UK and globally, we continued to work with and on behalf of our members to further our positive vision for inclusive and socially engaged museums at the heart of our communities.
Supporting our compelling mission, Museums Change Lives, we continued to advocate the value of museums to society and published frameworks and reports to support this, notably our Partnerships with Purpose pilot to encourage meaningful partnerships between community organisations and museums, and Power to the People, a framework for participatory practice.
Our inspiring and thought-provoking annual conference and exhibition continues to cement its place as a key event in the international museum calendar. The return of the conference to Belfast was a huge success, with strong participation from museum workers across Ireland. While in Belfast we were also delighted to launch our first Museums Change Lives Awards to celebrate publicly the incredible impact museums are making.
We continued to advocate the value of museums to politicians and stakeholders across the UK, meeting with senior politicians and civil servants in every nation. We worked with the Federation of Welsh Museums to develop a new museum strategy; responded to the Scottish Government consultation on its culture strategy; and contributed to Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund strategic consultations.
I am delighted to report that total membership grew every month of the year and set records for the highest membership in our history. Overall membership increased across all nations by more than 18% in total. Moreover, we undertook a radical review of individual and institutional membership during the year; the resulting proposals were passed at the Annual General Meeting in November 2018 and launched in April 2019.
The new offer introduced a simpler and even more affordable structure with a view to being more inclusive for everyone who works in or with museums. Our Collections 2030 research and consultation with over 1,000 members and stakeholders resulted in Empowering Collections, our call for museums, funders and policy-makers to work together to ensure that our collections are empowering, relevant and dynamic.
Meanwhile, we continued to work with sector bodies, trusts and foundations to support socially engaged collections practice across the UK. We also continued to champion and support ethical good practice across all areas of museum work by responding to ethical queries and case work and by delivering training and speaking at events.
Any sector is only as strong as the people who work in it and our commitment to professional development continued: 23 people participated in Transformers Diversify; 33 people were awarded the Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA); six people were awarded the Fellowship of the Museums Association (FMA): and 60 people took part in Transformers Influence. We also supported members through our one-day conferences, which performed strongly with excellent delegate numbers at all events, and were delighted to award over £1.1m to projects across the UK through the EFCF.
All of this is a huge testimony to the MA’s talented and committed team, both our incredible staff and all those who support the MA’s work by volunteering at events, as regional representatives and mentors and as members of on the board. A warm thank you to all of them, to every member for your support, and to all the partners who have worked with us this year for the benefit of our visitors and communities.