UK museums steering group produce Character Matters Delivery Plan

By Adrian Murphy: Main Image: The National Army Museum’s Relaunch Project provided greater opportunities for volunteers’ learning and participation

The Character Matters Delivery Plan has been produced by the UK Museums Workforce Steering Group to focus priorities and resources from April 2018 to March 2020, to deliver on the recommendations from the Character Matters report

The Character Matters: attitudes, behaviours and skills for the UK Museum Workforce report was published in September 2016 to explore the development of the future of the museums workforce in the UK.

The research and report were commissioned by Arts Council England, Museums Galleries Scotland, Museums Association and Association of Independent Museums. The report identified the current skills profile and future needs for a successful sector over the next ten years and made 30 recommendations. It recognised that: ‘The museum workforce will face a growing need to adapt and develop new skills, knowledge and ways of working in order to meet the needs of the organisations and audiences they serve’.

“This research gives us a deeper understanding of the sector and allows us to work towards creating the conditions for individuals to flourish and succeed,” said Kate Bellamy, Director of Museums at Arts Council England. “We want great museums for everyone – and excellent museums are created by inspiring, skilled and diverse people with passion, commitment and flair.”

Aims of the Delivery Plan

Aim 1. Develop effective recruitment: to create a diverse and skilled workforce fit for purpose for the next ten years

Aim 2. Develop attitudes, behaviours, skills and knowledge: to support individuals to develop themselves to deliver inspiring, relevant and prosperous museums

Aim 3. Develop organisational culture: create the conditions to support individuals and achieve a diverse, skilled workforce

The Delivery Plan, it says, is aimed at all levels from sector support organisations, museums and individuals to enable them to focus on development opportunities, prioritising recommendations from the original report.

“At AIM we recognise that the people who work in museums and heritage organisations are fundamental to the experience those organisations deliver to the public,” said Helen Wilkinson, Assistant Director at Association of Independent Museums. Of course, that includes volunteers and trustees, as well as paid staff – and a third of our member museums have no paid staff at all. We are delighted to be working with our partners to help support those people and to help heritage organisations prosper.”

The UK-wide Steering Group has been established for three years, from April 2017 to March 2020, to support what they call a ‘shared responsibility’ to the development and implementation of the reports’ prioritised recommendations. Included in the delivery plan are a number of resources already published by the group members that relate to workforce development in museums.

Members of the UK Museums Workforce Steering Group:

Arts Council England
The Association of Independent Museums
Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Association
Museums Association
Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (Welsh Government)
Museums Galleries Scotland
Northern Ireland Museums Council

“The Character Matters research and report has accelerated a cross sector organisation conversation,” said Tamsin Russell, Professional Development Officer, at Museums Association. This Delivery Plan, for the first time in recent history, begins to dovetail commitments, activities and needs across the sector that will affect change at an individual, museum and sector level.”

The Group says it is committed to providing a focal point for museum sector workforce initiatives across the UK for the next two years until March 2020, when the impact of the delivery plan will be reviewed and the next steps considered.