Culture 24, Collections Trust and The Audience Agency are working together to support the museums sector with a united front.

August 15, 2018

Authors: Molly Whyte and Sophie Lealan

In July, The Audience Agency and Collections Trust teams made their way to the seaside for a joint workshop with Culture24. We spent time thinking about the distinct services we offer as Sector Support Organisations (SSOs) in Art Council England’s National Portfolio, and how we can work collaboratively to help museums thrive. Watch this space!

Helping museums connect meaningfully with audiences of today

Culture24 is an independent charity, based in Brighton, with a small and dynamic team of writers, thinkers, producers and publishers. We exist to support arts & heritage organisations to have the confidence, imagination and skills to create a thriving and relevant sector, able to connect meaningfully with the audiences of today.

Jane Finnis, Culture24’s CEO, says: “The ambition for our SSO programme is to create a step change in museums’ understanding of digital by working with individual museum practitioners and leaders, supporting them to become agents of change inside their own organisations.”

Over the next four years of our SSO work, we will be providing valuable, free opportunities for hundreds of museums. This includes 48 strategic consultancies for museum leadership teams to help them embed digital understanding and literacies across their organisations, three 9-month learning modules and 24 workshops for museum practitioners to grow their digital confidence and skills. We will also be launching Digital Pathways, a new online platform for digital resources tailored specifically for museums.

In addition, museums can receive free publishing support through Museum Crush, Culture24’s collaborative online storytelling platform. Our expert editorial team helps smaller museums to explore new ways of using their collections to tell compelling stories online. The site is particularly valuable for museums with limited resources, who need support in thinking innovatively about the stories they have and how to share them.

Culture24’s digital infrastructure – a data set of 7,200+ cultural venues and their listings - underpins all our publishing work and enables data sharing partnerships. Museums benefit from the promotion of their exhibitions and events, including year-round Museum Lates listings.

Culture24’s SSO offer is part of a wider programme of audience development and digital publishing work which includes Let’s Get Real, One by One, Show Me and Museum Lates.

Helping museums to capture and share the information that gives their objects meaning

Collections Trust provides museums with guidance and advice on managing their collections, with the aim of ensuring that museums provide the best care for the objects they hold, and can make the most of these objects for their visitors. Although we are a small team based in Shoreditch, our Spectrum guidance provides the collections management standard for the UK-wide Museum Accreditation Scheme, and has been translated into languages around the world.

Spectrum is at the heart of what we do and is freely available on our website, or as a publication in our online shop, in addition to being used in many collections management software systems (our Spectrum Partners). Alongside Spectrum, our website hosts a range of free resources on the various aspects of collections management and a platform for cultural property advice, while our Arts Council England funded Outreach programme delivers free training to around 100 museums across England every year.

Kevin Gosling, our Chief Executive, says: "Our SSO role continues a long-established relationship with ACE based on Spectrum's place in the Accreditation requirements, helping museums to be accountable for the collections in their care and to make the most of them in their audience-facing work. The four-year funding agreement means we can plan ahead and take a more strategic approach to challenges such as banishing inventory backlogs."

As an SSO we are working towards several key aims over the next four years. These include helping museums to achieve a basic inventory, improving the discoverability of collections information through the use of standardised terminologies, and helping museums to become better digital clients. We plan to achieve these through a combination of new publications, conferences and by developing digital tools, as well as through training, communications and advocacy.

What’s next

One aim that The Audience Agency, Collections Trust and Culture 24, are currently working together to achieve, is to help museums become better at developing effective digital strategies. We’ll be offering free consultancy visits to NPO museums in partnership, to ensure that each institution has access to the most relevant guidance. Our new status as SSOs is an exciting opportunity to share our skills across quite different fields, for the benefit of museums across the country.

Get in touch

To learn more about Culture24’s work and contact the team, please visit our company website. You can keep up to date with Culture24 via Twitter, LinkedIn or email.
To learn more about the work of Collections Trust or to get in touch, please take a look at our website, or get the latest news from our newsletter, or through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Look out for more Sector Support Spotlights in the near future. The Audience Agency will be highlighting key news from Sector Support Organisations in our monthly newsletter, for which you can sign up to here.