Fashion Cities Africa at Brighton Pavilion & Museums

Transformers “enabled me to step outside my comfort zone”

Patrick Steel, 11.01.2017
Apply now for the MA’s mid-career scheme
As the deadline for the next round of Transformers approaches, previous cohorts have described how the Museums Association’s (MA) mid-career programme has helped them to make changes to their working practice and their museum.

Transformers has three programme strands: Innovate, Influence and Diversify. All places on the Innovate and Diversify strands are free. Influence has a fee of £100 per participant.

“Transformers helped me to think about the ways I work and how I handle situations and how I could employ different tactics to greater effect,” says Nicola Euston, the museum manager at the Atkinson in Southport.

“Through Transformers I felt that I grew in confidence and it enabled me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new ideas.

“The impact of this programme cannot be stressed enough.”

Euston used her Transformers micro-funding to launch a commercial gallery at the Atkinson called the Landing.

“Unfortunately we know that we are not immune to further budget cuts,” says Euston. “But having the Landing helps us to become more self-sufficient while also raising the profile of local and regional artists, which was an important aim for us.”

Becky Cund, the director of human resources and administration at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, used her Transformer placement to make New Place, Shakespeare’s last home, accessible to people with dementia and special educational needs.

“We have three dementia champions trained and they in turn have trained over 80 staff and volunteers as dementia friends,” she says. “This has led to the Dementia Friends organisation saying that we can call New Place a Dementia Friendly Venue in our literature.”

And Jody East, the creative programming curator at the Royal Pavilion & Museums in Brighton & Hove, used the programme to engage young people with the museum using social media. Her scheme, iCurate, saw a young person join the museum’s exhibition project team, working on its Fashion Cities Africa exhibition and curating social media around the project, which saw the museum use Instagram for the first time

East also set up a scheme called Digital Ambassadors, inviting and encouraging a group of young people to be ambassadors for the museum and use their own social media accounts to talk about it.

“As an organisation I think it’s been useful to highlight that working with young people does not have to just come under the learning team remit, and working with digital tools does not have to just come under the marketing/digital team, but the work we do is stronger and more joined up when we cross departmental borders,” says East. “Both schemes we will take forward to future projects.”

Katy Swift, the MA’s project coordinator for Transformers, would like to see more people sign up for this year’s Transformers strand. She says: “As we return to work in a new year I’m sure, like me, people are thinking about what this year will bring for our sector.

“The Transformers programme is built to respond to the changes, challenges and opportunities facing our sector by offering a proactive means to build new ideas, practice and connections.

“There are three strands for this year’s programme, all offering different opportunities. All places on the Innovate and Diversify strands of the programme are free. At the heart of all of them will be building a connected and motivated cohort committed to bringing about change.

“Could 2017 be the year you become a Transformer?”

This round of Transformers has three programme strands: Innovate, Influence and Diversify.

The deadline for applications to Transformers: Innovate is 27 January. The deadline for applications to Transformers: Influence and Transformers: Diversify is 28 February.

Links and downloads

Transformers 2016-18