Friday, 26 August 2016

New National Museum Policies and their Impact on Collection Managers by Katie Childs (Policy and Projects Manager, National Museum Directors' Council)

Katie Childs opened the July UKRG event “Things you never knew you never knew” giving us an overview of the changes and reviews which are currently happening in the British public museums and galleries sector.

Since April there have been many changes in Parliament and the entire museum sector was reviewed in terms of how museums work together, regional and local provisions.

In her talk Katie focused mainly on the new Culture White Paper which was published in March, 51 years after the first version.
The Culture White Paper has four main targets:
                    Make culture accessible by everybody no matter people's backgrounds or education.
                    Make communities across the country benefit of culture through partnerships between national and local institutions.
                    Use culture to create international collaborations and to promote UK global reputation.
                    Increase investments and incentives in the cultural sector through government diversified funds.

In the UK cultural sector museums and art galleries play a substantial role.
In the past 10 years the number of visitors has hugely increased and museums have become extremely popular. People recognise them as important and trustworthy institutions and they enjoy spending time there.
It has been seen that museums create prosperity for communities and territory in addition to increase tourism.

Katie highlighted the importance for national museums and art galleries to share their skills and expertise working in partnership with local museums. Partnerships should be transparent, flexible, mutually beneficial, frequent and numerous. Partnerships could improve areas such as collection management, loans, storage, training sessions.

In addition Katie mentioned the following big changes that have happened since March 2016:

                    New Arts Council England Investment Model whose goals are:
- Including museums and libraries in the investment portfolio for the first time.
- Lengthening national portfolio funding agreements for three to four years.
- Opening up grants for arts programmes to museums and libraries.

                    Changes to Local Authority Funding which are happening all over the country:
1. Finance:
- Significant and rapid reduction in funding from central government.
- Will be replaced by local business rates revenue retention by 2020.
- Restriction on Council Tax rises.
- Growing statutory service costs.
- Museums are not statutory services.

2. Devolution:
- Devolution of spending decisions from central government to city and town halls.
- Secondary devolution.
- Combined authorities and elected Mayors.
- City deals.

3. Local enterprise partnership:
- Local economic planning.
- Replace regional development agencies.
- Limited museum representation.
- Can bring benefit for culture.

4. Place making:
- DCMS policy.
- Major civic institutions.
- Supporting peaceful and prosperous communities.
- Museums make a place attractive to live in, work in and visit.

                    Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry

                    Scottish Cultural Strategy

                    DCMS Museums Review

                    Welsh Museums Review

                    Review of Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund

Finally Katie told us it is too early for DCMS to know the consequences that Brexit will have on the museums sector. In the meantime she offered some good advice to avoid panic.

After the sad episodes of exclusion and racism happened in England straight after the referendum, museums want to reassure people they are safe and welcoming places of inclusion.
We know museums have a great impact on society but it has been very nice of Katie to remind us that if the government and people invest on museums it is thanks to our actions and expertise.

For further information, Katie can be contacted at

By Greta Casacci, Project Collections Registrar, National Galleries of Scotland

Friday, 12 August 2016

Committee Role Highlights: Web Officer

Serving as Web Officer on the UKRG committee has been hugely rewarding. The first thing I’d say, if you’re considering applying, is that you don’t necessarily need a great deal of technical expertise before taking on the role. You’ll be responsible for liaising with the company who provide our web support, Awesem, for checking that the site works, for reporting web stats at the AGM and for renewing licenses and updating content as necessary. You’ll get a handbook on how to do all of this. 

At some of our Event venues: the Canal Museum (above) and the old Design Museum (below)

That said, one of the big highlights of the role for me has been learning about, and developing experience of, website admin. I also led on a project to overhaul the website’s content, which was a very rewarding opportunity to ensure the website remains a useful and usable resource. It’s also developed my negotiation skills, advocating for UKRG’s needs to the Web Support Company and advocating to the committee the reasons for spending money on the website.
Panel Discussion at the event in Manchester, April 2016

Being part of the UKRG committee has given me lots of other amazing opportunities – from getting to know the rest of the committee to having the opportunity to give input on major sector issues. I was also very lucky to attend the European Registrars Conference in Vienna, which was a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues from across Europe and to learn about the challenges and opportunities faced across the continent.

At the European Registrars' Conference in Vienna

Overall, it’s been a tremendous experience. If you’re considering applying and want to chat through what the role entails, please do get in touch with me.

Susannah Darby UKRG Web Officer 2014-2016

Committee Role Highlights: Treasurer

Being part of the UKRG committee has been a stimulating learning experience into the world of budgets and the importance of the role of the registrar. In my time as treasurer I have mastered excel spread sheets, become acquainted with the banks of South Kensington (an experience in itself) and most importantly learnt how to build and maintain a budget. 

This is perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the role of treasurer on the UKRG committee, previously I had no knowledge of how to build a spread sheet to document the numerous channels of money flow and ensure that the books were balanced throughout the year, but through a very tight budget produced by my predecessor I have become quite familiar with the ways we can document the numerous aspects of UKRG’s income and expenditure.
However being part of the committee is more than just spread sheets and numbers, it is about trying to increase the awareness of the role of the registrar, influence and better understand the standards of good practice among our profession. Being part of fantastic events and getting to meet all the members in person at events and by processing their membership fees has been a great way to meet other registrars and understand just how varied and narrow our roles can be.

In this capacity I have been able to travel across the UK and Europe to see other museums and learn about how they operate. As part of an exhibition team in my day to day role I have been able to learn how to better apply myself to the exhibition registration practice and positively influence the teams I work with into championing the role of the registrar in the multitude of teams with which I work.

This however is a serious role and does take some time, concentration and dedication, knowledge of budgets is not necessary but the willingness to work with excel is. Nonetheless being on the UKRG committee offers more benefits than the time you put in and I will be sad to step down from my post. 

Terri Dendy, UKRG Treasurer 2014-2016

Committee Role Highlights: Supporting Officer

The role of Supporting Officer is very broad – my main task was to create a sustainable UKRG Archive. However, my role’s flexibility means I have been able to become involved with a range of activities at committee level. I assist at Events, complete administrative tasks on an ad-hoc basis and am also looking into potential legacy projects for the ERC Edinburgh money.

Becca at the ERC Conference, Vienna, 2016
By having a presence at events, I have been able to liaise with colleagues from other museums and agencies and build better working relationships – being able to put a face to a name is incredibly helpful in a world full of e-mail. As a result of these networking opportunities I have been able to build relationships both nationally and internationally. Being on the committee means that your travel to and from events is covered. This has been a great help to me as I have been able to attend events I otherwise would not have been able to outside of London and internationally.

The UKRG Archive in full swing! © Dr Ellie Pridgeon
Setting up the archive has meant contact with many different colleagues and institutions, and helped me to gain a better understanding of the different roles within our sector, as well as the important work that the UKRG has been doing since conception. Being able to create a sustainable archive has been a fantastic achievement, as my work will create a lasting record of the important work of the UKRG.

The past 2 years have flown by, and I will always benefit from the relationships, and knowledge, I have built up with UKRG members and the committee.

Rebecca England, UKRG Supporting Officer 2014-2016