The policy column

Jess Turtle, Issue 115/04, p17, 01.04.2015
The importance of resilience
The question of resilience is one which people working in and for museums are currently debating. It’s a much-used phrase, but what does it actually mean? In the landscape of continuing cuts, what should museums be doing to increase their resilience, and how does this play out both on an individual and an organisational level?

On 6 March we held the final event for the pilot year of Transformers: Radical Change in Museums – a professional development programme for mid-career people in museums across England, Scotland and Wales. Our fantastic 2014 cohort have taught me some key things about resilience.

First, holding on to and sharing your values in a time of change acts as a driving force for individual resilience. Second, it’s less about coming up with new business models and more about shifting your approach, so that you thread an ethical commercialism into everything that your museum does. This relates to every role in the organisation and needs to be grounded in a clear understanding of who your communities are and what they need from your museum.

Finally, the sector has people in it that are absolutely able to innovate, even in the most challenging circumstances, and who are prepared to make themselves visible and inspirational to others.

The MA remains committed to supporting this approach in the years to come and Museums Resilience Fund investment from Arts Council England for a further year of Transformers will enable 24 new participants to explore what resilience means in 2015.

Jess Turtle is the Transformers project coordinator at the Museums Association