The policy column

Alistair Brown, Issue 118/05, p17, 01.05.2018
Good advocacy is so important
Most museums are no strangers to their local member of parliament, mayor or councillors. Indeed, it is a matter of course for many venues across the country to invite elected representatives to see what their museum is up to – whether it is to show off new exhibitions, outreach projects or tourism partnerships.

But this year, the sector is going further. The Museums Association, working in partnership with the National Museums Directors’ Council, is giving MPs a new opportunity to find out about the UK’s dynamic museums by hosting a parliamentary reception in Westminster on 21 May. Hundreds of MPs and lords from all parties will be invited to hear about the positive cultural, social and economic impact that museums have, and the important role of public funding in supporting their work. Events such as these can be hugely valuable for a sector that has traditionally not had a strong profile among parliamentarians.

But the Westminster reception, and events in Cardiff and Edinburgh later in the year, are just the start. They should prompt all museum leaders across the country to reassess their own advocacy plans.

Are you building strong relationships with key decision-makers? Are you building support among your audiences and partners? Do people know and care about the work that you’re doing?

If you’ve got good answers to these questions, you’re well on the way to being a good advocate for your museum – and for the sector as a whole.

Alistair Brown is the policy officer for the Museums Association

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