Sector support organisations, funders and policy makers - Museums Association

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Sector support organisations, funders and policy makers

If your policies need to change to accommodate problems caused by your own colonial practices – well, change them.

MA Decolonisation Survey respondent, 2020

Decolonising practice needs resource, support and advocacy to thrive in the sector. There are lots of opportunities for organisations to play a supporting role in decolonising. The following suggestions outline the role different bodies can play in supporting decolonising practice:

Funders: Be brave in advocating for and funding decolonising work, as well as communicating support for this work. Fund provenance research and collections development. Address the boundaries and limitations of research funding – ensure expertise in all forms is recognised. Design funding schemes that promote equitable collaboration and remunerations to nonmuseum workers – ensure that any funding provided gives adequate support for people involved, both internally and externally. Encourage applications that emphasise process over predetermined outcomes. Offer flexibility in funding to facilitate the process of decolonising. Avoid a one size fits all approach and ensure access to funding for overlooked or marginalised groups, collections and organisations.

Subject specialist networks (SSNs): Enable peer-to-peer support and collaboration with existing SSNs to support decolonising practice across all networks.

Sector support organisations: Create grassroots networks of mentors to support decolonising practice on the ground. Advocate for the fact that diverse workforces make for a successful sector. Offer structural support for inclusive recruitment and more flexibility in development and progression routes in museum careers. Build skills and confidence, and embed decolonising practice in CPD programmes.

Education and training providers: Museum Studies courses and training providers have the opportunity to teach decolonising practice and recruit a more diverse range of students and participants.

Case study: Contemporary Art Society – Doing the Work

Open to Contemporary Art Society (CAS) members and wider professionals, Doing the Work was an online workshop series co produced by Ilaria Puri Purini at the Contemporary Art Society and Anjalie Dalal-Clayton at the Decolonising Arts Institute, University of the Arts London.

The workshops aimed to support colleagues wanting to engage meaningfully and practically in anti-racist and/or decolonising practice. The workshops offered space for people to discuss the particular challenges faced in doing this work and to use discussions to develop tools and initiatives to test back in the workplace. You can find out more about the workshops series here.

Claudette Johnson, Doing Lines 1 (Lockdown) Line Journeys, 2020, oil pastel on paper
Claudette Johnson, Doing Lines 1 (Lockdown) Line Journeys, 2020, oil pastel on paper. 102 x 77.5 cm. Presented by the Contemporary Art Society to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry through the Rapid Response Fund, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist and Hollybush Gardens

Glossary of terms used in the guidance

For terms used in this guidance and in wider decolonising practice, we recommend consulting the Glossary established by the Curatorial Research Centre.

Image caption: Volunteers at MA Conference in Brighton, 2019

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