Two candidates in race for MA presidency

Felicity Heywood, Issue 108/9, p5, September 2008
Sandy Nairne and Stuart Davies go head to head
You are more likely to experience a solar eclipse than this "very rare event" that has gone down in Museums Association (MA) history.

It last happened in 1984. And now 24 years later, the MA has two candidates standing for election as its president.

Sandy Nairne, the present professional vice-president of the MA and director of the National Portrait Gallery, and Stuart Davies, a visiting professor at University College London and Bournemouth University who previously spent six years on the MA Council, are going head to head in an attempt to win MA members' votes.

Nairne previously worked at the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, and the Arts Council of Great Britain. Davies was the author of the 2001 Renaissance in the Regions report as a director of strategy at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Nairne said the important areas for the MA are training, development and diversity, as well as getting government and national agencies to recognise the talent and creativity of museum professionals.

He said he offers 30 years of experience and wider connections. "I have experience not just in museums, but across galleries, historic houses and sites, which is an important area of development," said Nairne.

Davies said the critical points are the review of Renaissance in the Regions, the collapse of the regional MLAs, the Heritage Lottery Fund's reduced capacity, and pressures on local authorities. "I have had 30 years in the business and worked with many of these organisations up for change," he said.

"It is not to say Sandy won't make a good president. I don't see myself as standing against Sandy, but giving the members a rare opportunity to have some choice."

"It is a very rare event," said Mark Taylor, director of the MA. "It is good to have competition, as it suggests that people care and it raises the profile of the issues."

The nominees' full statements, along with voting papers, were sent to all MA members at the end of August.