Joanne Orr is the CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland

Strategy for Scottish museums is vital

Joanne Orr, Issue 111/11, p17, 01.11.2011
Since the end of 2010, following a ministerial announcement, Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has been involved in the process of developing a national strategy for Scotland’s museums and galleries and is working towards becoming the national development body for the sector.

The Museum Strategy Group, with wide representation from the sector and chaired by Fiona Ballantyne, also chairwoman of the MGS Board, has been working since February to develop the proposed vision, themes and strategic objectives, in conjunction with consultant BOP.

The role and impact of museums in society for public benefit was felt to be a guiding principle in the development of the strategy and encouraging museums to become more entrepreneurial and develop increasingly effective partnerships were identified as overarching objectives.

Above all, it was recognised that in addition to meeting the needs of the entire sector, the strategy had to be owned by the sector if it was to be effective. It was therefore acknowledged from the outset that consulting and engaging museums and galleries was crucial. Although not without its challenges, the process so far has been extremely positive.

Almost one year on, against the background of an economic downturn, it is good to see museums engaged in a major consultation to consider and develop the detail of this new “framework of understanding”.

Launched at MGS’s Collaborating to Compete conference in September, the consultation on the national strategy for Scotland’s museums and galleries is now well underway. This participative process will enable museums to work together towards making strategic, long-term decisions to support the development of their future resilience and sustainability.

A new approach to collaborative working will be a vital outcome of the process. Museums and galleries will need to identify the elements they can deliver on and incorporate these into their planning, using the strategy as context and framework.

Similarly, the new national development body’s corporate plan will have its roots in the final strategy, and will enable and support the sector to deliver against agreed objectives.

The process of building the national strategy in a participative and inclusive manner has served as an example of how the sector can work together in partnership.

The challenge now, in this final phase of consultation, is to encourage the widest possible dialogue and input to ensure a robust, comprehensive strategy that will not only be relevant for the whole sector in Scotland but will also drive, underpin and deliver its future aspirations.

Joanne Orr is the CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland

The consultation is open until 8 November