All over the globe, societies are in a state of flux, yet we have learned and adapted quickly. This year has seen us lose control of a world we thought we knew and we have seen the role of engaging people and producing digital programming becoming central to survival.
We have shown that we can adapt quickly and really listen to the needs of our communities, our thinking has moved sustainability beyond climate and economics to being about people, and we have noted that digital is no longer about strategies that are not acted on or costly online tours. We know that digital access is unequal, and we have come to recognise that we really did not have the right approach to digital across our organisations.
As we come out the other side and settle into a “new normal”, we must not revert to the old ways of working; we have shown that our rigid structures can be put aside and we can really listen, take action and respond in the moment, and seek longer-term impact.
In coming years we will be asked two questions: “How did you look after your staff and communities during and after the pandemic?”, and “What action did you take when the Black Lives Matter movement took hold?”
If we cannot answer these questions with proof of positive, supportive action that led to change, then we will lose the diversity of staff and communities that we want so much to be part of our sector.
The Museums Association (MA) has been working on a Learning and Engagement manifesto since 2018 and we think it is more relevant now than ever. We have collaborated with the Group for Education in Museums, Engage and the Art Fund and we have listened to more than 300 voices of people who work in this area. We have thought about where the voice of learning and engagement sits in communities and the sector.
The manifesto is not something to just guide the work of a learning and engagement team, it is for whole organisations and everyone that works with them.
Flux can mean instability but it can also mean fluidity – let’s go with the latter word; it feels more appropriate and points to how we need to work going forward.
Join us for a free webinar to discuss the new manifesto on Friday 25 September at 1000-1200, open to MA members and non-members.
The event is aimed at managers and heads of learning and engagement in museums, galleries and heritage sites, and anyone who is passionate about the future of learning in our sector.