Museum Freelance network to close - Museums Association

Museum Freelance network to close

Directors call on sector to continue work to address poor pay, procurement and contracts
Freelance Workforce
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Rebecca Atkinson
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Marge Ainsley (L) and Christina Lister (R) set up the Museum Freelance network six years ago
Marge Ainsley (L) and Christina Lister (R) set up the Museum Freelance network six years ago

The Museum Freelance network is to close after six years of supporting freelance museum professionals through training events, advocacy and a resource hub.

In a statement, Marge Ainsley and Christina Lister, who run the network, said the decision to close it had been very difficult.

Like for so many others, the pandemic and the last 18 months have affected us in many different ways and led us to a great deal of reflection,” they said. “After much consideration, now is the right moment for us to step away to make more time for other personal and voluntary commitments and pursue new professional opportunities.”

They shared some of the highlights of what the network achieved since it was established, including raising awareness of the challenges that freelancers face, publishing the sector’s first in-depth study into freelancers and securing £29,000 of funding to support freelancers in need during Covid-19.

“We have given as much as we can but there’s a limit to what two freelance individuals can achieve – largely in a voluntary capacity – and the heavy weight we can be expected to carry,” the pair said in the statement.

“While we have made a lot of progress in many areas, there are still fundamental issues that persist in the sector, in particular around poor pay, procurement and contracts.

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“As a result, freelancing continues to be out of reach as a financially viable and sustainable option for many, perpetuating a lack of diversity in the freelance workforce. The sector needs to step up as a collective to address the inequities and challenges that persist.”

Lister told Museums Journal that she and Ainsley have explored various options for the future of Museum Freelance, and decided on “a setup that kept access to the two most fundamental aspects of our work without expecting a huge commitment in time and resources from other people”.

Fair Museum Jobs will be housing the key resources the freelance network has developed so these can continue to be accessed once its website closes at the end of March next year.

"We are also hoping that a few volunteers come forward to run the LinkedIn group so that this virtual space where freelancers can connect will continue," Lister added.

Anyone interested in volunteering to become an admin of the group is asked to email museumfreelance@gmail.com by 6 December.

The network's Twitter account will remain live as a back catalogue, and its page for donations will remain open until 24 November.

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