Barriers to progress persist - Museums Association

Barriers to progress persist

Report finds that few development opportunities make it hard for staff from minority groups to reach leadership roles. By Gareth Harris
Profile image for Gareth Harris
Gareth Harris
Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals, as well as disabled and younger participants, feel that a lack of development opportunities prevent them from progressing to leadership roles, according to a report on leadership development in England’s cultural sector.

The survey, commissioned by the Clore Leadership Programme, has sparked debate among sector professionals about whether candidates from underrepresented minorities are equipped to become museum and gallery leaders.

The research, Scoping the Leadership Development Needs of the Cultural Sector in England, was funded by Arts Council England.

Almost 600 “established and aspiring leaders” responded, with 91% saying they expect to undertake leadership development training in the next five years. Participants in the research say that they hope to focus on developing skillsets such as leading people, and fundraising and philanthropy.

But the Clore report highlights a need for more diversity among directors and chief executives.

“The crucial issue is that there is not enough diversity in the sector to begin with, so there is, in essence, a predetermined breadth and volume of candidates for the Clore Fellowship programme,” says Yasmin Khan, an independent cultural adviser and Clore Fellow.

“We need sponsors in museums that will open doors for professionals from diverse backgrounds.”

An anonymous Clore Fellow says the programme needs to attract candidates from more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

However, Sue Hoyle, the director of the Clore Leadership programme, says it is continuing to evolve its work in response to feedback and research. “For example, our Emerging Leaders course was set up in 2010 as a result of an impact study that noted that younger people were under-represented on our programmes.”

Hoyle adds that the Clore Leadership Programme is already acting on the survey’s findings. A series of leadership development days is planned across the country, after respondents said the limited availability of training opportunities outside London was a problem.

Most of the Clore Fellowships are fully funded, with the costs of residential leadership courses, coaching and mentoring covered.

In addition, Fellows are given a budget of £7,500 to cover their personal development programme, which includes a three-month secondment.

Hoyle adds: “About 70% of Fellows are in leadership roles in organisations.”

The programme has so far awarded 259 Fellowships.

Where are they now?

Paul Kirkman (2009 Fellow)
Then: Head of arts, DCMS
Now: Director, National Railway Museum, York

Andy Lloyd (2007 Fellow)

Then: Head of exhibit development at the Centre for Life, Newcastle
Now: Head of special projects, Centre for Life, Newcastle

Sophie Clark (2006 Fellow)
Then: Exhibitions manager, National Portrait Gallery, London
Now: Assistant director, public programmes, Imperial War Museums

Tonya Nelson (2011 Fellow)
Then: Petrie Museum manager, University College London (UCL)
Now: Head of museums and collections, UCL

Leave a comment

You must be signed in to post a comment.


Join the Museums Association today to read this article

Over 12,000 museum professionals have already become members. Join to gain access to exclusive articles, free entry to museums and access to our members events.