An online panel discussion from Creative & Cultural Skills and Rising Arts Agency, recorded in November 2021

download the transcript

Over the past twenty years, museums across the UK have worked hard to ensure their collections are inclusive, relevant, and welcoming for all audiences with initiatives such as Kids in Museums and the brilliant advocacy work of the Museums Association and their Museums Change Lives campaign celebrating the vital role these institutions play.

But what about the people running the museums? The 2020 Inc Arts Hold On report revealed that only 2.7% of the museums, galleries and libraries workforce are from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. We want to know why that is and what can be done to change it.

Chaired by Catherine Ritman Smith, CCSkills Trustee and Head of Learning and Engagement at Young V&A, Changing History: Diversifying the museum workforce was a free online panel discussion that brought together young, diverse voices from across the sector to share their career journeys and experiences of working in museums and heritage.

During the event, the panelists shared insight, perspectives and ideas around barriers to entry, the need for diverse leadership opportunities, alternative entry routes, shifting internal structures, representation of cultural heritage and much more.

With an online audience made up of professionals from the sector and a significant number of young people and career changers considering a career in this area, the event was a moment of connection that explored some of the challenges that are everybody’s to tackle and celebrated the success of our exceptional panelists.

About the panelists:

Catherine Ritman Smith

Catherine Ritman Smith is currently the Head of Learning and Engagement at Young V&A, building on a rich heritage to create a world-leading museum of design and creativity for children and young people. Prior to this, Catherine worked at Somerset House, the Design Museum, Enterprise UK and Open City. Catherine is a fellow of the RSA and was Vice-Chair of the London Design and Engineering UTC until Dec 2019. She currently serves on the LDE UTC Quality of Education Committee, and on the board of trustees for Creative and Cultural Skills.

A1

A1 is a multidimensional storyteller who uses dance and spoken word, as ways to reflect/ resurface existing emotions as a connection to oneself. His focus is on storytelling playing with signifiers we associate with concepts around identity and developing it from a black experience/lens.

A1 worked as a podcast producer on the Uncomfortable Truths Project at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, which sought to uncover the uncomfortable truths behind museum objects, how they’re collected, what they represent and the difficult pasts that are hidden behind them.

Barinur Rashid

Barinur Rashid is the Secondary Science and Post-16 Learning Coordinator at Manchester Museum where he manages the science programmes and projects for secondary schools and college pupils. One of his remits is to target disadvantaged schools and widen the participation of disadvantaged children in to higher education/university, with the aim of increasing social mobility. He is also a board member for the our shared cultural heritage programme (OSCH) which is a joint project with the British Council and Manchester Museum, to encourage the participation rate of young people from a south Asian heritage background in cultural and heritage spaces.

Hawwa Alam

Hawwa Alam is a Cultural Learning & Participation Officer (Apprentice) at Manchester Museum and she also works as a Communications & Marketing Officer for an international medical relief charity. Hawwa is a history graduate, whose dissertation focused on public history and colonial legacies within museum spaces. In her free time, she works as an artist, photographer and poet, exploring themes on heritage, culture, faith and belonging through creative methods. She has also co-founded The Rice Bowl Collective with two friends, an online platform exploring education and identity through workshops and zines.

Leah Sibindi

Leah Sibindi is an Events Trainee at Glasgow Museums and a Gallery Assistant with the Burrell Collection. She joined Glasgow Museums through a partner organisation called Next Step Initiative which aimed to enhance diversity within the Museum sector through The Ethnic Minority Career Museum & Built Environment Heritage programme (EMCMBEHP). Leah is also completing an SVQ level 3 in Museums and Galleries practice.

Nosipho Ledwaba-Chapman

Nosipho Ledwaba-Chapman is a journalist and nail artist currently residing in Bristol. Her topics of interest are history, race, culture, psychology and how these things intertwine – she frequents panels and events discussing these matters. Her current endeavour is to combine her passions and tell stories through nail art.

Sipho is a member of the Rising Arts Agency community and has worked at Bristol City Museum as a Content Producer where she worked on the Uncomfortable Truths project. Sipho was also a member of the Bristol Museum Youth Collective.

Rising Arts Agency is a powerful, collaborative community of artists and creatives whose mission is to empower underrepresented young people to fulfil their creative ambitions and make social change happen. Visit rising.org.uk to find out more.