The policy column

Our ideology will always be Museums Change Lives
Iain Watson
Talking to Museums Association (MA) staff recently, I was reminded that 25 years ago I was involved with the organisation’s 100th anniversary.

The MA and the museum business has changed hugely over the past 25 years. It was a period of significant financial challenges, with issues such as rate capping hitting local authority budgets hard.

The MA must remain a membership organisation and be responsive to the needs and wishes of members. As MA president David Anderson said at our recent conference, the key priorities of members are challenging the cuts, advocating for the value and impact of museums and promoting Museums Change Lives. This gives us a clear strategic direction for the next few years.

With mass communication within the reach of almost everyone, it is essential that we work out how to join members up and use the power of the membership. Six thousand knowledgeable and passionate individual members, as well as institutional and corporate members bringing their own networks and influences, is a powerful constituency.

The MA website, blogs and LinkedIn groups encourage members and others to join in debate, and it is encouraging to see that some issues encourage much interaction.

Museums Change Lives is our clear mission and direction. It is the value and impact of museums, and their ability to change lives, that is the greatest argument to challenge the cuts and to argue for increased investment in museums. Museums Change Lives is why we get out of bed in the morning.

Iain Watson is the director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and a member of the MA board

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