The Policy Column - Museums Association

The Policy Column

Embracing diversity boosts our relevance
Jess Turtle
Challenging systemic inequalities is one of the themes for our upcoming Diversity: State of the Nation debate. I recently encountered two cultural organisations that are actively and consistently doing just that.

At the opening of Graeae Theatre Company’s Reframing the Myth exhibition, the atmosphere was celebratory and defiant, in spite of the cuts that are biting hard. Graeae has been putting deaf and disabled artists centre stage for 35 years, and will continue to harness artistic excellence as a platform for these collective voices, which might otherwise be unheard.

Also, I recently met with Sarah Smed from the Welfare Museum in Denmark, which works with those who have lived on the edges of society. Together, they create spaces where poverty and its relation to the welfare state can be debated, discussed and better understood. What these organisations have in common is that they do not consider the people they work with to be “hard to reach”. Rather, they are central and essential.

Graeae and the Welfare Museum are fantastic examples of how embracing diversity in workforces and audiences can make our institutions culturally richer, more relevant and utterly necessary.

This will be the subject of our event on diversity in museums on 16 March at the Goldsmith’s Centre, where Jodi-Alissa Bickerton, the creative learning director at Graeae, will be sharing insights alongside leading practitioners, policy makers and funders including Hassan Mahamdallie, the independent theatre maker and co-director of the Muslim Institute; cultural consultant Hilary Carty; Isabel Churcher, the senior manager museums at Arts Council England and David Bryan, the director of management consultancy Xtend.

If you are interested in attending Diversity: A State of the Nation Debate and contributing to these discussions please email:

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