New plan is an ‘important step’

Sector focuses on the second delivery plan for the National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries
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Gareth Harris
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The second delivery plan
for the National Strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries was a springboard for discussion about the state of the sector, at the third biennial conference organised by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS).

More than 130 delegates at Fighting Fit: Ready for Anything considered the implications and challenges of implementing the delivery plan, which was published by MGS in the summer.

The plan, Realising the Vision: Delivering Public Value through Scotland’s Museums and Galleries 2015-19, aims to help the sector become more resilient.

The plan sets out six areas in which it believes the sector should focus its activities over the next four years, including maximising the potential
of collections, developing
a global perspective using Scotland’s collections and culture, and diversifying the workforce.

“It reflects on what was achieved during the first two years of the strategy delivery,” says an MGS spokeswoman.

Uniting the sector

David Gaimster, the director of the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, believes the plan can unite the sector.

“It can be a challenge ensuring that the sector understands how its work fits in with the national strategy, which is why the second delivery plan was an important step,” he says.

“The value of the national strategy is that it connects Scotland’s diverse museums and unites us in purpose. It has never been more important for the sector to pull together towards a more sustainable future.”

Focal point

Tamsin Russell, a member of the Museums Association’s ethics committee, says that the strategy has created a focal point around which everyone now operates.

But she adds that the aim of diversifying the workforce is a challenging one.

“For a time, we need to focus more on supporting museums that are being challenged by cuts, closures and the need to do even more – if they are still open,” says Russell.

“Now more than ever our museums need a body that acts as adviser, coach and carer to help them get through this to deliver the five other aims of the strategy.”

Duncan Dornan, the head of museums and collections at Glasgow Life, says: “I believe these are all significant areas for the sector – the challenge will be in addressing these in the current financial climate; this prioritisation, along with support from MGS will help,” he says. “Ever-closer connections between services and users will be vital.”

But sustaining services in the current climate remains a concern. MGS received £2.8m from the Scottish government for 2015-16, which included £1.3m for grants direct to the sector through investment streams such as the Capital Fund and Small Project Fund.

Earlier this year,
MGS chief executive officer Joanne Orr said there were “no guarantees” of funding going forward, and MGS might have to consider
“small cuts” in the future.

One crucial question is how far the MGS delivery plan will help the sector work together.
“I do think this will be of assistance in aligning services across the sector more closely to these issues,” says Dornan.

“A collective approach could establish a sustainable way of addressing some of the areas identified in the national strategy proposed by MGS.”

Lorna Owers, the museum curator-manager of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline, says although the second delivery plan was outlined by Orr in her opening address at the MGS conference, it was not discussed in any detail in the sessions she attended.

But she adds: “The aims of the strategy are relevant and do underpin everything we try to do at our museum.”


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