Rebecca Atkinson

Change is gonna come

Rebecca Atkinson, 28.06.2017
Transformers participants attend Influence workshops
Most people find the idea of change uncomfortable. It makes them feel anxious, alone, unequipped. Rapid and sometimes surprising political changes over the past few years, alongside longer-term developments such as the rise of new technology and climate change, have left some of us wondering how much more we can possibly handle.

And yet as professionals we are increasingly being asked not only to change but to lead that change. For those who believe in the power of museums to act as forces for good, it’s an incredibly exciting proposition. But getting others on board with our ideas can be a challenge.

Last week, 115 museum people gathered in three cities (Birmingham, Nottingham and Edinburgh) to take part in Gearing up for Change, the first of two workshops planned under the Influence strand of the Museums Association's Transformers programme.

Aimed at people who believe in the social power of museums, the Influence strand is about empowering participants to create change as well as be resilient to the challenges of an ever-changing world.

I attended the workshop at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. Despite being drained from a non-air conditioned train journey on one of the hottest days of the year, there really is nothing like being in a room full of passionate people to make you feel inspired and enthused yourself.

There were some fantastic ideas discussed by participants during the day, including a museum of kindness that collects artefacts and explores emotional empathy.

One group of like-minded delegates gathered to discuss the various ways their organisations could work with refugees. Others provided peer support to those grappling with professional challenges.

As our lead facilitator for the day, Hilary Carty, put it, the first step to being a change-maker is finding your pulse. What do you care about?

Turning that initial idea into an active campaign, getting others on-board and using your influence to make change happen is a longer journey, so those who are part of the Transformers cohort will be helped to develop the tools they need to make their ideas as successful as possible.

And with so many people taking part, it is an exciting opportunity to explore what is possible on a large scale when you empower those who want to create change.