The policy column

Celebrating an agent for change
Paddy Gilmore
I am delighted that the Museums Association has chosen the Belfast Conference & Exhibition to launch the inaugural Museums Changes Lives (MCL) Awards. I am very much aware of the campaign's significance and importance to many people in the sector.
For me, MCL has been an inspiration, a motivation and a reference point. It is a powerful advocacy tool, central to the aim of demonstrating the profound impact that our museums, their collections and their programming can have on the lives of people and communities.

We may live in challenging financial times, yet many museums have chosen to prioritise the activity they undertake under the themes of MCL.

Some of our smallest museums have taken the bravest steps, so it is fitting that they will be recognised in one of the categories. Those who "dissent" or drive change can often be lone voices, and this tenacity and resolve is something that will be explored in various sessions at this year's conference. It's great news, then, that one of the categories will focus on the "radical changemaker".

As awareness of the social impact of museums continues to grow, it is a great time to profile some of the museums and people who have excelled in this work, and enhanced the reputation of our sector.

Join us in Belfast as we take some time out to reflect on the success of our work and the difference that MCL has made across the four nations.

Paddy Gilmore is the head of programmes at National Museums Northern Ireland

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