Six venues chosen for Creative Museums programme

Eighteen-month "experimentation" aims to encourage audience participation
Profile image for Gareth Harris
Gareth Harris
Six English museums and galleries have teamed up with Battersea Arts Centre in London as part of a new research and development project called Creative Museums.  
The participating institutions – Brent Museum and Archives, Leominster Museum, Manchester Jewish Museum, Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery, Scarborough Museums Trust and Swindon Museum & Art Gallery – will take part in an 18-month programme of "experimentation” known as Scratch or agile working, the organisers say.

According to Battersea, Scratch "involves sharing an idea in the early stages of its development with the people it is aimed at”.

Public consultation is a major part of the process, which encourages a more informal approach to engaging audiences and fundraising.

The initiative, which is supported by Arts Council England through the Museum Resilience Fund, features workshops and masterclasses held by heritage and arts specialists. Producers from Battersea Arts Centre will also create joint creative ventures with the partner museums.
“The Creative Museums programme will be genuinely participative and creative in its approach, generating more personal and immediate ways of connecting museums with people," said Gaby Porter, a consultant and a partner in the scheme. "We hope that it will enable museums to create value for and with others, thus strengthening or redefining their sense of purpose and their role."

Scratch can help bodies address organisational change and governance; shape building extensions or move to different premises; create a dialogue and build a stronger relationship with local people and their stories; and change roles and perceptions of volunteering, Porter added.

Deborah Seymour, the chief executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, said: “In the past few years, we've refocused our strategy on community work and recruited a new team of staff.

“We'd made some great progress but this project seemed to be the key to taking what we were doing to a new level: engagement, and real sharing of process with our audience and communities. I'm also excited at the synergies between different arts organisations, in this case museums and theatre.”
Battersea Arts Centre will become the custodian of the Wandsworth Borough Collection next April. The centre said it will use Scratch to explore ways of sharing this collection with the public.

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