The issues I am focused on – wellbeing, addressing inequalities, tackling climate change – were priorities for the Museums Association (MA) before I became president. However, the experience of the past 12 months has brought a renewed urgency and a determination to act boldly to progress them.
It’s been just over a year since Covid-19 changed our lives completely; since the murder of George Floyd forced us to see the racism that has been allowed to become systemic; and since the warnings about the damage we are doing to our planet became too loud to ignore.
I’m proud that the MA wasted no time revisiting its strategic plan in light of these events, refocusing the actions to which we’re committed. This will help to ensure that we are well positioned to advocate for members and to support museums, practically and strategically, to face these challenges head on.
And we must face them. For museums across the UK, there are big decisions ahead to determine how we will use our collections, influence and resources to spotlight the issues that matter to our communities and impact on society.
We must be clear about the role we will each play to make positive change. If this past year is to have a meaningful legacy for our sector, it must be that our collective response to it improves the lives of those hardest hit by it.
Gillian Findlay is president of the MA and Museums & Galleries Edinburgh’s acting cultural venues manager