This post is an ironically slow response to a session at the 2016 Museums Association conference, entitled ‘Rapid Response’. I wasn’t at the conference, although I followed along through social media and the live streams where I could. The reason I’m responding to some of the ideas in the session now is that I attended a Museums Association South East members meeting this week, and conference recaps formed part of the discussion. I’m not the only one revisiting this particular session either, as Tonya Nelson in January’s Museums Journal also revisits its themes in her column ‘We need to respond to the world around us’. Both these discussions and Nelson’s piece reflect on the idea that museums could operate more like newsrooms, reacting rapidly to current events, but also offering thoughtful and well researched analysis of subjects in the way that long-form journalism has traditionally done, but that in the age of 24 hour online news is becoming less common.
At the end of June DCMS published a report Creative Industries: Focus on Employment which, as you can guess from the title, looks at employment in the creative industries in the UK. One of the sectors included in the analysis is ‘Museums, galleries and libraries’ and the report has been picked up by the Museums Association in two news stories (here and here) which both focus on the depressing decline in numbers of BAME employees in museums. While this is obviously a very real concern, especially with the MA making workforce diversity a key theme of this year’s conference, I wanted to consider some of the other implications of the report.