Good reps

Sharon Heal, 01.07.2015
Getting a grassroots view of museums across the UK
It’s not often you find yourself in the bowels of a castle cave system with an eclectic collection of museum professionals, but that’s where I ended up last Friday.

The cave tour was courtesy of our guide Mark (catchphrase: "The course of English history was changed here - but I don’t have time to go into that now") and the occasion was a meet-up for the Museums Association's (MA) regional and national reps.

I’ve been really keen for the MA to be connected to our members and people who work in the sector and our reps are a crucial way of doing this.

It’s a fairly frill-free role - for the title of being a national or regional rep you get a free place at our annual conference and... well, not much else frankly. But I like to think that the networking opportunities, with the MA staff and with other reps and members, and knowledge sharing in some way compensate.

But it’s a vital role. As a membership organisation we want to get a grassroots view of what the issues are and what our members need from us, and the reps are instrumental in helping us understand this.

So last Friday we had a discussion about what reps can do and how they can make connections in their regions and nations - as well as some nice sarnies and a slightly precarious trip around the underground tunnels courtesy of Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery and our East Midlands rep @simonianbrown.

The MA has been on a long journey to understand the different policy contexts in the four nations and to try to break out of the London-centric tag of the past.

Our meeting was attended by a good cross-section of reps from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England and I hope we all had a better feel for what’s happening in all four nations as a result.

We might not have changed the course of history in one day - but we are taking small steps on a journey to being a more representative and connected organisation.

Follow Sharon on Twitter @SharonHeal