Winners Announced at 2020 Cornwall Heritage Awards

 

Museums across Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly took part in an online celebration, where 10 museums celebrated success, at the Cornwall Heritage Awards which took place via Zoom on 21st October 2020.

The Awards were due to take place at the Royal Cornwall Showground in March but were rescheduled due to lockdown restrictions and held digitally for the first time. Over 100 attendees from Bude to the Isles of Scilly logged on to the event hosted by BBC Radio Cornwall’s Daphne Skinnard.

“This was an inspiring event, which was an honour to host.  It was excellent to recognise those who are working hard to preserve and showcase the unique heritage of Cornwall in places from the Isles of Scilly to Bude.  Congratulations One and All.” Daphne Skinnard, Assistant Editor BBC Radio Cornwall.

 

Winners

Mevagissey & District Museum won the Innovation Award for their Septimus ‘Some Seal’ Exhibition.

William Emmett of Newquay Heritage Museum picked up the One to Watch young volunteers’ category for his outstanding contribution to Newquay Heritage Archives & Museum’s digital channels.

PK Porthcurno and The Castle Heritage Centre, Bude, both triumphed with awards for their contribution to the Environment and Circular Economy, for their projects to improve natural biodiversity and their active promotion of environmental practise respectively.

Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum were victorious with an Award for Wellbeing for their numerous initiatives, as did Saltash Heritage for their innovative celebration of their volunteers.

The Mucker and Loco Restoration team from Geevor Tin Mine Museum secured the Heritage Heroes Award for their enthusiastic work to bring mining machinery back to working order.

The Tamar Protection Society won Best Festival, Event or Exhibition for their Tudor Afternoon at Mary Newman’s Cottage.

The Isles of Scilly Museum succeeded to win the Community Initiative Award for their Pop-Up Museum project in partnership with the Five Islands School.

Newquay Heritage Archive & Museum won the Judges’ Special Award for their consistent commitment and passion for Cornish Heritage across a range of projects and new initiatives.

 

The 202o Cornish Object of the Year, voted for by over 2500 public votes, was announced as the 15th century Mounted Horsemen Ridge Tiles from Padstow Museum, who are said to gallop around the Market Square when the clock strikes midnight.

Not only did the museums receive the accolade of winning the award, they were also presented with a cash prize of £1000 to help support any work or projects they wish to develop.

The Cornwall Heritage Awards have been developed to commend museums and heritage organisations’ achievements, celebrate what makes them so special and to give those unsung heroes their greatly deserved moment in the spotlight. The Awards have been organised by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with South West Museum Development, and were made possible by sponsorship from Cornwall Council, PH Media and Tevi Cornwall.

Cornwall Museum Development Officer, Stephanie Clemens, comments: “We were determined that the Heritage Awards could still go ahead this year to celebrate our heritage organisations and remind ourselves of all the wonderfully inspiring work they do as a community in Cornwall. This positivity shone through even in a virtual setting. We were delighted to welcome attendees from all over Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as well as the rest of the country. The camaraderie and enthusiasm of the whole heritage community was a joy to experience.”

Heritage Awards 2020

It was always going to be a challenge, picking up an established awards ceremony in the beginning of a pandemic!

When I started the MDO role in July, the awards event had been postponed from March and rebooked for October at the Royal Cornwall Showground. We needed to make a decision quickly on whether we would go ahead, or try something else. As a team, we considered what an online version might be like and if we could produce it. Holding a physical event began to look too risky, so we decided to go for it virtually.  

The good news for me was that so much of the planning for the event had been done in time for March, and I had a huge amount of support from CMP’s Marketing and Impact Officer, Jody. We just needed to translate an in-person event online. 

My priority was to make the event feel celebratory and not like just another video meeting. Fortunately, we already had the wonderful and supportive Daphne Skinnard of BBC Radio Cornwall booked to host the event, and she could not have been more enthusiastic and accommodating about going online. 

The great thing about going online was being able to open up the existing guest list and be less restrictive on numbershaving made sure our Zoom account could cope. A lot of my prep time for the event was spent compiling and sending out information by email – thank you to everyone who forwarded on the information to their groups and came back to me with the information I needed. 

For me, an integral part of any celebration is food and drink. I started thinking about how we could do that remotely and goody bags seemed to be the answer. This was a great opportunity for me to test out the CMP environmental strategy of ‘vegan first, digital first, sustainable first,’ as well as shopping local. I found sweet and savory snacks, Cornish tea in a reusable teabag and a handmade soap as a little treat (well, we’re all washing our hands a lot at the moment).

The suppliers were all delightful and it was a joy to have lovely conversations with them about their products and what I was going to use them for. I definitely picked up some more sustainable shopping habits along the way. 

My next job was to make the presentation for the event look as visually appealing as possible and to make sure everyone got to see a taster of all the shortlisted nominees. Luckily, most applications were submitted with photographs and the ones that weren’t were quick to send me images when I asked. 

I also wanted to make a feature of the eight finalists for ‘Object of the Year’ – they were such an amazing group of objects I thought they deserved some airtime. So, I asked each organisation to make a short video explaining what the object is and why it is so special. At this point, I felt I might be straying into Eurovision postcard territory, but I really felt like video interludes would help keep the event flowing.

Producing videos was no mean feat when some museums were closed and when others were open with reduced staff and volunteers. I thought it was wonderful how different each video was. To me, they not only demonstrated the variety of amazing collections in Cornwall, but also the diversity and creativity of our heritage organisations and their staff and volunteers. 

I really enjoyed the event itself. Daphne’s warmth and genuine enthusiasm for heritage in Cornwall came across virtually and Jody’ thumbs were a blur as she live posted our winners and congratulations on Twitter. Everyone who accepted an award did a wonderful job and it was fantastic for all attendees to be able to see them and give a virtual round of applause. I wasn’t able to read the chat at the time, but the messages of congratulations and support were so lovely to browse through afterwards. And when everyone put their microphones on at the end, that was just fabulous. There were plenty of smiles and laughter and to me, that was the best it could have been. 

Highlights

The highlight of the event for me was that heritage organisations across the county from Bude to the Isles of Scilly were able to take part without any of the usual geographical barriers. Having students join us from the Five Islands Academy was the most wonderful thing and something that needs to be incorporated into future Heritage Awards when we return to ‘normal’. On the other hand, holding events virtually can be a barrier for some people. I tried to make sure all attendees were able to get online, offering practice sessions and a written help guide, and I am mindful to continue and increase this support in future. We made closed captioning available for the event, and I’m sure there is more we could do to make future Heritage Awards as inclusive as possible.  

I was blown away by the positive messages and feedback CMP received after the event. I think we did justice to the Awards and to all the incredible, inspiring people and projects across the whole of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. That said, I don’t think it really matters that much how I think it went – what is much more important is that everyone investing their time and effort in Cornish heritage feels that the Cornwall Heritage Awards are representative, reflective and celebratory of their achievements. I’m always open to feedback, especially now that I’m looking forward to the next awards! 

 

Steph Clemens, Museum Development Officer, CMP

CMP Remote Working Manifesto

 

Since the early days of CMP we’ve tried to embed the principles of Agile working at the charity. This means trying to reflect and learn as we go to continually improve our practice.

This year those reflections have inevitably involved remote working and the consequences of closing the office for a prolonged period of time. As we approached Lockdown 2.0, we gave some thought to what we’ve learned and how we’ve adapted. We found some useful insights in the RSA’s Making Remote Work Good Work.

We already use a range of digital tools like Slack and Trello to communicate within the team but on their own these tools aren’t enough (NB we use Clockify to track our hours and time spent on projects). These digital tools don’t address some of the other aspects of communication and care that we are better able to achieve when we’re in the office together.

Here’s the list we came up with. We’d love to hear your ideas too.

  1. No one can be productive 100% of the time. Remote working can be draining, and you might find your energy dips. Don’t worry. Take some time away from the laptop to do something which replenishes you – take a walk, do something creative, listen to some music or a podcastPlease share anything you find enjoyable with other colleagues on Slack.  
  2. Take a wellbeing break – If you think your mental health is suffering and you are feeling overwhelmed, please take some time outTalk to your line manager about taking some extra time off (in certain circumstances CMP can offer additional paid leave for those who need a wellbeing break). Please don’t wait until things get really bad before you discuss this with your line manager. 
  3. Work the hours that suit you – for example it’s fine to start earlier and finish earlier if you want to make sure you have some time outside when it is still light. 
  4. Keep an eye on your hours – Clockify can help you see if you are working too much. If a pattern of excessive hours is emerging, talk to your line manager about strategies to address this.
  5. Be a proactive communicator – show up to the Monday morning catch up if you can and be prepared to talk through your week ahead and flag up anything colleagues need to know.
  6. Be sociable: Tuesday and Thursday ‘afternoon tea’ catch ups are open to everyone and Wednesday morning Fun Palace sessions are where you can come and learn something new from a colleague or share your skills with your team members. These sessions are open to all but not compulsory. Try the ‘quiet zoom’ sessions if you’d like to reconnect with colleagues. 
  7. Find a ‘thought partner’, someone who is not your line manager, who you feel you can share and explore work issues or challenges with, and vice versa. Schedule time to speak to one another when issues or opportunities arise and another perspective would help.
  8. Refer to the Mind Working From Home Wellness Action Plan.
  9. Try the Yale University Wellness Course for further insights.  
  10. Do the 16 Personalities test and share it if you want to. Reflect on your communication style and that of your team members – what is it like to be on the receiving end of you? How do you like to give and receive feedback?
  11. Celebrate the small successes (as well as the big ones). You could keep a ‘done list’ instead of a ‘to do’ one, a simple technique to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Use the digital postcards to recognise others’ contributions and achievements.
  12. Take your holiday throughout the year including during lockdown 
  13. Assume everyone is doing their best (and read up on Brene Brown’s thoughts on this).

By the end of November 2020 we will have recruited 5 members of staff remotely. We’ve realised that it is hard for new starters to get to know the rest of the team and vice versa. To address this we have started to record and share short videos about ourselves to share some of the things we think people might naturally have learned about us if we’d be working in the same place. It’s been really great learning about colleagues and this is helping to make general communication easier.

 

UPDATE: Following the commencement of the third national lockdown in England, the whole CMP team are again working from home for the foreseeable future. For this reason, our Marketing Intern Natalie revived the CMP Remote Working Manifesto and ran a ‘Lockdown Work Life’ series on our social media channels, including wellness tips from the team. These have been added here for those who are interested!

 

Celine, Engagement Lead:

‘I’m taking my mandated exercise at dawn (see noble hound image above) and it’s been life-saving so far – makes the whole ft job + home-schooling marginally less painful!’

Natalie, Marketing Intern:

‘I’m making the most of the golden hour and getting up and out early to start the day off with some refreshing exercise, even if it is rather cold!’

Charlotte, Programmes Manager:

‘I’m making an effort to make a distinction between ‘work’ and ‘home’ so am getting changed at the end of the work day – simple but effective!’

 

Emmie, CEO:

‘I’m trying to do a daily commute – which involves going outside for the same amount of time I would have spent commuting at the beginning and end of the day.’

Jenna, Data and Insight Manager:

‘Getting the monkeys out for a runaround on the towans during our lunch breaks has been a massive saviour for us this week. Taking hot chocolate has been a good incentive for them too  And the view certainly helped too!!’

Karen, Office Manager:

‘In January 2020 I made a foray into crochet, taking classes at the Craft Collective in Redruth, Annelie asked at the first class why we were there?  Well I wanted to be able to make hats and within a few weeks I did indeed make my first hat. Along came Covid and Lockdown, I discovered the meditative quality of crochet, the constant physical repetition, counting and focus on the act of creating, stills my mind, and allows my body to relax.’

7 (Surprising) Health Benefits of Crocheting – An interesting article on the subject here.

Jody, Marketing and Impact Officer:

‘I’m making sure I spend at least 45mins a day outside, even in the rain, walking and exploring. I’ve found some wonderful mining trails right on my doorstep which I’d never have known were there. Oh, and I cuddle my dog Purdy at least 12 times a day!’

Cornwall Museums Partnership Appoints Four New Board Directors

Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is thrilled to announce the appointment of four new Board Directors: Katharine Wills, Heather Coupland, Zoe Partington and Sarah Waite. CMP’s Board of Directors are responsible for ensuring the overall strategic direction of CMP and provide help, guidance, and advice on all aspects of the charity’s work. Appointments were made after an open recruitment process seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds who share CMP’s values of collaboration, innovation and inclusion. Combined, Katharine, Heather, Zoe and Sarah bring a wealth of new perspectives and knowledge to the CMP team and board.

 

“As CMP approaches the end of its sixth year, we are having to say goodbye to a number of trustees who have been with us since the start. This is a big milestone for any organisation and so we were delighted with the number and quality of applications we received. Whilst this made the process extremely challenging for the panel it was great to see how many people wanted to be part of our ambition to create positive social change with museums. Our values drive all our work and so we are very pleased to have been able to appoint four new trustees who share these values and I’m confident they will be a brilliant addition to our board.” Sarah Trethowan, as Chair of the HR Committee and Vice Chair of the Board

 

Katharine Wills joins the CMP board as a Plymouth University Professor in Smart Cities and Communities in the School of Art, Design and Architecture. Katharine also Co-Chair’s the School of Art, Design and Architecture Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion Committee (EDIC) and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Ethics and Integrity Committee. With a magnitude of research interests including, but not limited to; rural communities, social deprivation and sustainability, Katharine will be a huge asset to CMP supporting the Rural Diversity Network and its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Heather Coupland; Management Accountant and Programme Manager for Access to Finance, has worked as a Business Coach & Finance Specialist with businesses throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Through this role, Heather has supported clients to access many different forms of funding. Heather has a working knowledge of the current grant funding pots, eligibility and the application processes. Heather’s extensive financial knowledge and experience will support CMP’s Finance and Audit Committee.

 

Zoe Partington, Creative Consultant and International Advisor for the cultural sector, is a Contemporary Visual Artist. Zoe uses her powerful installations to develop instinctive audio visual and tactile representations of Disabled people’s journeys and experiences through spaces. Zoe’s passion of inclusion strongly aligns with CMP’s purpose to create positive social change with museums.

 

Sarah Waite has recently taken a position as Assistant Curator at the Military Intelligence Museum, after finishing a 10-month Trainee Curator Programme position at Bodmin Keep Museum; a CMP programme funded by the John Ellerman Foundation and Cultivator. During Sarah’s time at Bodmin Keep, she worked on many projects that would diversify the museum displays and digital content as well as participated with a podcast Bodmin Keep produced which explored the Army’s LGBTQ+ history. Sarah’s appointment is a realisation of CMP’s commitment to providing board roles for young trustees and we are delighted to welcome her to the board.

 

 

About CMP

Cornwall Museums Partnership is an independent charitable incorporated organisation, formed in 2015 to provide leadership for Cornwall’s 70 museums; to support them, represent them and give them a voice. We are a sector-leading charity which is not afraid to think differently. Our values of collaboration, inclusivity and innovation inform everything we do.

Our ambition is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a pioneering model of collaborative leadership which promotes innovation and resilience in the museums’ sector and beyond. We want to shift the dial in terms of the impact and value museums create. By working in partnership with museums, we want to help them to use their collections effectively to foster happy, healthy and prosperous communities where heritage is valued and celebrated.

 

Press Release Issue Date: 18/11/2020

For more information, please contact:

Jody Woolcock, Marketing and Impact Officer

Cornwall Museums Partnership

jody@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

Funding Success – Art Fund support’s the Rural Diversity Network

Thanks to funding from Art Fund, Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is excited to announce  a collaborative project with Black Voices Cornwall (BVC) and the Black British Museum (BBM), collecting the stories and experiences of Black people living in Cornwall.

The award of a £15,000 Professional Network Grant from Art Fund towards the Rural Diversity Network means CMP can expand its focus on diversity and inclusion, recently recognised as Outstanding, by Arts Council England, through its Creative Case for Diversity rating.

The project will document the experiences of Black people in Cornwall informing the work of local and national museums, ensuring representation and informing anti-racist practice.

“Education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to confront racism. Black Voices Cornwall absolutely recognise the value of history and the importance of teaching Black British History sensitively, appropriately and correctly, particularly here in Cornwall. It is important to us that people are re-educated about the lasting legacies throughout Black History.

We are excited and humbled to be working alongside Sandra Shakespeare on the Black British Museum Project which will be an absolute asset to both the residents and visitors of Cornwall. It is incredibly encouraging to see and hear funders also recognise the importance of this work, and this recognition shows not only support and belief in the project but also demonstrates some vital steps towards Cornwall becoming an Actively Anti-Racist County.” (BVC)

This project will also allow CMP to create resources to make decolonisation work more accessible to rural museums creating a better understanding of what decolonisation work means, what it looks like for our rural museums and most importantly, where to start.

“This is an opportunity to learn about the stories of diverse rural communities so we can better understand that their contributions are shaping our history. We are thrilled to be a part of this collaboration.“ Sandra Shakespeare (BBM)

Through the growth of the Rural Diversity Network, the aim will be to provide peer-to-peer learning opportunities for rural museums across the country to discuss decolonisation, and to raise the profile of decolonisation work in rural museums with national and international stakeholders.

 

Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP) is a charity which exists to create positive social change with museums. In 2017 CMP launched the Rural Diversity Network, a network designed to promote diversity and inclusion in rural regions, provide a platform for artists and activists to share good practice and give voice to those who are seldom heard. Cultural policy around diversity has often been centered on the visible diversity of big cities. The Rural Diversity Network aims to inform national policy by exploring the diversity of rural regions and help cultural organisations to be more open and connected to the all people they exist to serve, not just a select few.

In October 2020 CMP received an Outstanding Rating for the Creative Case for Diversity from Arts Council England. The Creative Case for Diversity is the national standard for equality and diversity and challenges cultural organisations to involve a wide range of people, from every background, in the work they do.

This rating was primarily assessed on the activities being delivered by CMP’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) programme, in collaboration with seven museums across Cornwall (Wheal Martyn, Falmouth Art Gallery, Penlee House, Royal Cornwall Museum, PK Porthcurno, Bodmin Keep and the Museum of Cornish Life) where inclusive and accessible practice has already made an impact in enriching the cultural and museum sectors in Cornwall. Including:

  1. Using Cornwall’s diverse museum collections to inspire and explore diversity working with sector experts (including members of Museum Detox on diversifying practice, Dan Vo on ‘Queering the museum’, the Museum of Homelessness regarding rural diversity and The Happy Museum on programming with shared compassionate values) to develop skills in museum staff and volunteers.
  2. CMP has been spearheading work on an LGBTQIA+ trail encompassing the collections of museums and galleries across Cornwall, led by LGBTQIA+ museum staff. CMP supported Cornwall Pride in 2019, taking examples of Cornish collections with ‘queer histories’, supporting and celebrating the diverse staff and volunteers who contribute to our organisations. CMP has committed to support Cornwall Pride and the attendance of local museums.
  3. CMP and the NPO consortium museums have continued to work with Carefree, a local charity which supports care leavers and children in care. With the support of Cornwall Council, we have been able to expand the involvement of young people, creating a dedicated paid apprenticeship post to work between Carefree and the museum partners.
  4. Pool School Gallery, based in nearby Pool Academy, has become a close partner of CMP. The Engagement Lead sits on the Board and opportunities to support their ground-breaking approach of employing contemporary artists and using the Cornwall Schools Art Collection to engage young people, continue to be developed; for example, with organisations such as WILD Young Parents. CMP has convened work with WILD Young Parents (a Cornish charity which supports young parents and their children) with several museum/gallery partners. Working with artists and groups of young Mums, CMP was able to develop a detailed programme of interactive creative opportunities
  5. Fun Palaces continues to be a strategic partner for CMP. As half of the ambassadorial role for Cornwall, CMP’s Engagement Lead supports and develops a variety of organisations, including museums, creative partnerships and community-based arts organisations; to celebrate cultural democracy in creating and leading Fun Palaces across the Duchy.
  6. As a result of the wider NPO focus of ASD-friendly programming, Royal Cornwall Museum was able to host an exhibition of artwork by users of Spectrum ASD, Cornwall’s leading ASD-support service as part of the annual national Autism-awareness campaign. Coupled with RCM’s commitment to embedding ASD-inclusive work, including updated online resources and dedicated relaxed openings, led to a National Autistic Society Autism Friendly award.

 

About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. In response to Covid-19 Art Fund has made £2 million in adapted funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 159,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. In a unique edition of the prize for 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums are facing by selecting five winners and increasing the prize money to £200,000. The winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne

www.artfund.org

 

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million  Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Funds.

www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

Chronically Katie: my experience as a disabled Trainee Curator

I’m Katie Sawyer and I’m one of two Trainee Curators for 2020 at Bodmin Keep, Cornwall’s Army Museum. I also have Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a long term neurological illness with no known cause or cure, that severely impacts energy along with several other symptoms. My aim with this blog is to highlight experiences from my traineeship and show how small adjustments in the workplace can make a massive difference for employees with disabilities.

L-R: Lizzy Broughton, Rachel Haddy, Sarah Waite, Katie Sawyer and Sian Powell - Trainee Curators 2020

L-R: Lizzy Broughton, Rachel Haddy, Sarah Waite, Katie Sawyer and Sian Powell – Trainee Curators 2020

 

Applying for the job

When I was offered an interview at Bodmin Keep I was given the option of a phone or video call, instead of travelling all the way to Cornwall to interview in person. This would have been hours each way by train for me! Although this option is now fairly standard because of Covid-19, in 2019 it was a big deal, as it meant I didn’t have to exhaust myself for an interview.

Applying for jobs when disabled can be very difficult as you become an amateur detective trying to decide if an organisation really wants to employ disabled people, or if they’re making empty statements. If an organisation claims that ‘disabled people are underrepresented in our workforce and we are especially interested in applications from this demographic’, investigate what they’ve actually done. For example you could check if they are Disability Confident, a work scheme with specific commitments. Can you find their workforce numbers online or have they hired anyone who is disabled? Has someone at the organisation written something online (like this blog!) so you know that they will make reasonable adjustments? This research can be exhausting but has saved me wasting time applying for non-accessible organisations in the past.

 

When to disclose?

Disclosure, which just means telling your employer of your disability, is a personal choice and you do not have to inform them. However, protections and assistance in the Equality Act 2010 are often dependent on the employer knowing, as they are often not legally obligated to help if they don’t know you are disabled.

Personally, I tend to disclose after the job offer, or sometimes during the interview, as if the employer starts to look worried you can explain exactly what your disability means along with adjustments they can easily make. You can also make sure they are not discriminating, as if they offer the job and then retract it when you disclose you are disabled, they might be breaking the Equality Act. Although this has not happened to me, I have experienced other discrimination which has made me wary of early disclosure. If you have specific access needs for your interview you may have to disclose early. These could be anything from regular breaks, a sign language interpreter or physical interventions such as ramps or lifts. Bodmin Keep has no lift, so is inaccessible to wheelchair users for example. Disability is a spectrum, and although they were able to make changes for me to work there, everyone’s access needs will be different.

 

Starting the job

As this was my first full time position since being diagnosed, I was worried that I would struggle. Thankfully Mary Godwin (Director at Bodmin Keep) and Verity Anthony (my line manager) were very supportive, and able to use their own knowledge of ME/CFS to understand my condition and adjustments needed.

I researched what adjustments other employees with ME/CFS had asked for, as I didn’t even know what I might need. This included things like: changing my working days to have a rest day mid-week, working at home on digital projects, adjusting my hours to start and end later, wearing headphones or sunglasses if needed (noise and light sensitivity symptoms can be really bad), given as much notice as possible if workload changes and review meetings. I emailed Mary with these suggestions and she simply replied, ‘yes all fine’. It was such a relief to know that I could ask for what I needed and be supported.

The absolute best adjustment by far was my nap spot. Verity set me up in the collections store attic in a big armchair with pillows and a duvet. I had a 20 minute nap every lunchtime, which might sound like a small thing, but it gave me enough energy to work full time. It was also a physical sign that Bodmin Keep were committed to making me feel welcome.

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager Bodmin Keep

Verity Anthony, Visitor Experience and Collections Manager Bodmin Keep, beside the nap chair.

 

Training

As part of the traineeship, we visited local museums in Cornwall as well as national ones in London. This was very tiring and there are adjustments that I learnt to ask for, such as a quiet room in each museum for me to rest in. National museums especially often have one for prayer or breastfeeding, however their websites often had very poor access information. The Natural History Museum for instance have a contemplation room, which I could not easily find on their map. Luckily, I was able to ask a helpful member of staff and used it to take breaks.

 

Natural History Museum map

Natural History Museum map

 

I would also recommend disclosing as early as possible to Claire English, the training co-ordinator. She has been really receptive to my access needs, especially as we’ve both gained a greater understanding of what that means practically. Again, if you are comfortable disclosing, I would ask Claire to advise the museum staff you will meet, or contact them yourself in advance. This way if you need to leave talks early, they won’t be concerned, and you’ll feel comfortable taking whatever breaks you need.

 

Training Lectures

 

As we all went online due to Covid-19, I continued to set boundaries for myself, for instance a five minute break for every hour on Zoom. Zoom fatigue plus chronic fatigue is the worst combination and I would not recommend it. This usually benefits others on the call too, as no one wants be to  on a video call for hours without a tea or toilet break. Also, the ability to have my video and audio off is a hugely helpful , as I can relax my brain and body and just focus on listening.

I can’t guarantee that the Trainee Curator programme will be accessible for every disability, but I hope that my experience has shown what adjustments can be made. As a disabled museum professional, you are a valued member of the workforce, with important skills and viewpoints that will make museums better.

 

-Katie Sawyer

 

Other resources that might be useful

Pippa Stacey lifeofpippa.co.uk – writer with ME/CFS with articles about working and studying with chronic illness

Museums Disability Collaborative Network – @museumDCN or www.musedcn.org.uk

@AXSChat – weekly social media chats on inclusion

Scope –  www.scope.org.uk— disability equality charity

ME Association – extensive ME/CFS resources

Astriid – www.astriid.org.uk/s/ – charity that helps people with long term conditions find work

Curating for Change – historyof.place/curating-for-change-deaf-and-disabled-people-leading-in-museums/ – new training programme for disabled museum professionals

Disability Rights UK – www.disabilityrightsuk.org – charity that campaigns for disabled equality

An Internship with Impact: Working as a Trainee Curator at Bodmin Keep

After months of applying for entry level jobs in the museum sector, between shifts stacking books in a library and pulling pints at a pub, I was finally offered a curatorial traineeship at a small military museum. Leaping at the opportunity, in January 2020 I uprooted my life in South London and moved to Bodmin, Cornwall. Once I had gotten over the shock of hearing owls outside my bedroom window and seeing tractors driving on the road, I was ready to throw myself in to my new life and new job.

The CMP Trainee Curators. From left: Rachel, Sian, Katie, and Sarah

The ‘Trainee Curators’ programme was funded and organised by Cornwall Museums Partnership. There were five of us trainees in total, all placed in different museums across the county. Bodmin Keep: Cornwall’s Army Museum was my host organisation. Run by a dynamic team of motivated and characterful women, Bodmin Keep completely defied my expectations of a rural regimental museum. Whilst working there, I was not only gaining curatorial experience, but the team ensured that all doors were open. I was invited into strategic planning meetings and encouraged to ask questions relating to governance, learning and engagement, and marketing and communications.

Leading a curator’s talk for Heritage Open Day.

The team at the Keep were enthusiastic about my ideas to embark on projects that would diversify our museum displays and digital content. For example, I participated with a podcast the museum produced which explored the Army’s LGBTQ+ history. I pitched an idea for a new display which interrogated some of the colonial collecting stories behind some of the objects in our collection. I launched a mini-series of videos which looked at artworks within our collection using the principles of mindfulness. But the project which really captured my attention was the opportunity to curate an exhibition of my own. The topic: mental health in the military.

The subject of mental health and psychiatric casualties of war is woefully underrepresented in military and regimental museums, despite being one of the most crucial issues for veterans and service personnel today. Bodmin Keep has a significant community presence and a platform to make a change. I hoped that an exhibition could raise awareness of the mental health challenges faced by the military family, myth-bust, encourage empathy, challenge social stigma, and encourage veterans and other members of our local community to access support if they need it. I also hoped that an exhibition on mental health could challenge entrenched ideas about regimental museums as being too conservative or irrelevant to the issues of today’s society, inviting attention from new audiences.

The Bodmin Keep team celebrate VE Day

The exhibition has been collaborative in nature. I was keen to work with veterans within our ex-Light Infantry community, for whom we hold the regimental collection. I have had the opportunity to work with some fascinating people, who have been donating objects and stories to the exhibition. Navigating these relationships was challenging at times, given the sensitive and emotive nature of the topic. However, the experience was rewarding and has offered me an insight into the power that museums have over the way in which histories are told and who’s heritage gets remembered.

A display within Bodmin Keep’s new exhibition about mental health: Trauma to Treatment

My time at the Keep has come to an end, but I have the privilege of moving onto a new role which I never would have thought was within reach this time last year. I will be taking up the post of Assistant Curator at the Military Intelligence Museum, in Bedfordshire. My experience at Bodmin Keep has not only hugely improved my skills, but it has given me the confidence to turn a career ambition into reality. I can now call myself a curator; something that has been a dream for many years now.

My traineeship has given me so much, but I feel that I have also left my mark on the museum in return. I have undertaken many museum internships in the past, most of which have involved staring into space in empty galleries for hours or acting as a human coat rack. However, a traineeship which enables the trainee to leave a genuine impact on an organisation is very special, and I encourage any entry level museum professional to seek these out. Even if it does mean moving somewhere a little bit unexpected.

Pre-book your visit to Bodmin Keep, or go to our website to see Trauma to Treatment, our new exhibition about mental health in the military.

 

-Sarah Waite

#RDNetwork: Volunteering

During 2020 the Cornwall Museums Partnership Twitter page will be handing the reigns over each month to local organisations, who will be guest hosting our Rural Diversity Networking hour; #RDNetwork.

In July, Tehmina Goskar, Director of the Curatorial Research Centre, kindly took over our Twitter page to discuss museums and volunteering. Please continue reading to hear all about Tehmina’s experience of our #RDNetwork Twitter Takeover…

I was really pleased to revisit the Rural Diversity Network which I helped set up in 2017 as an Arts Council England Change Maker. When I look at how far we have come, while it is easy to get frustrated at lack of progress it is important to focus on what has changed for the better. I have observed more discussion about diversity when previously there was none, a more nuanced understanding of how diversity and inclusivity relate to each other – both processes of unlearning our expectations for a ‘typical museum audience’ and generally more self-awareness among colleagues in spotting lack of diversity.

My particular topic was volunteering. A topic close to my heart as we continue to pioneer our flagship Citizen Curators programme that I am leading on behalf of CMP and seven partner museums. Over the last two years (there is one to go) we have provided high quality training in museum awareness and good curatorship to over 50 people – all volunteers from our communities. The programme is designed and constantly being adapted to flex to the needs of the participants rather than just focus on organisational needs. This is a very different way of thinking about volunteering as participation as opposed to free labour.

As someone who has also started a new business in the last two years (Curatorial Research Centre) it is important to me to continue advocating for a progressive mentality in museums, particularly smaller museums in rural regions, not just in Cornwall but all over the world. These museums are the backbone of our sector and yet are so often ignored. So many of these smaller museums and cultural organisations do sterling work in their communities and yet have, over the years, been forced to orientate themselves fully towards the visiting tourist in the tourist season. This means that volunteering has a critical role to play in diversifying what museums exist for and more importantly, for whom. Are we really welcoming to one and all? The other major facet of this work is to make cultural educational opportunities more easily available in places where time and cost of travel is a major barrier. As we plan for yet another radically different year for Citizen Curators (delivered entirely digitally) our volunteers will need to understand their museums as if they had no walls and a genuinely global audience.

-Tehmina Goskar

Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection

Falmouth Art Gallery and the newly re-opened Royal Cornwall Museum have joined forces to stage two exhibitions, one in each venue, showcasing almost the entire ‘Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection’ which has been looked after by the latter institution on behalf of Cornwall Council since 2011. 

This impressive collection consists of artworks originally acquired from locally and internationally renowned artists for the educational benefit of all school children in Cornwall and was begun in 1961 following an anonymous donation of money to what was then Cornwall County Council with a note attached reading ‘To help primary school funds’.  After some debate the Council decided to use the money to start a fund to buy artworks to loan out to schools so that schoolchildren could interact with and learn from them.

The Council approached well-known artists to see if they would gift or sell a piece of work at a reduced price. The first work acquired in this way was ‘Frisky’, by Jacob Epstein, a small bronze sculpture of his beloved sheepdog, gifted by his widow (he had died in 1959).  The sculpture went on tour to different schools and proved so popular that the Council agreed to put aside money every year to collect more pieces of art. Barbara Hepworth and Michael Finn (then Principal at the Falmouth School of Art) were the Council’s advisors helping them to contact artists and grow the collection over the years.

The collection contains works by many of the well-known post-war artists practising in Cornwall.  Barbara Hepworth led by example donating her own Alfred Wallis as well as a print and two sculptures and persuaded her husband, Ben Nicholson, their son Simon and Ben’s daughter Kate, by his first marriage to donate works too. Other notable artists include Leonard Fuller, Alethea Garstin, Patrick Heron, Bernard Leach, Janet Leach, Alexander MacKenzie, Lionel Miskin, Denis Mitchell, Dod Proctor, John Milne, John Wells, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Patrick Hayman, Bryan Wynter and many more.  In addition, Falmouth Art Gallery has loaned their version of ‘Orchard Tambourine B’ by Sir Terry Frost to the exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum to signpost a similar work from the Cornwall Council Collection which is permanently on display at County Hall in Truro.

Both exhibitions have been imaginatively curated by Lizzy Broughton who is a Trainee Curator at Falmouth Art Gallery through a programme staged by Cornwall Museums Partnership and jointly funded by Cultivator, European Social Fund, Cornwall Council, the John Ellerman Foundation and Arts Council England.

Henrietta Boex, Director of Cultural Services for Falmouth Town Council, commented : ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership with the Royal Cornwall Museum and to display this important collection across our two venues.  It is a significant resource for children (and adults) in Cornwall and we will be making sure that schools are aware that they are able to borrow artworks from it.  I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Lizzy on curating two really good looking and well researched exhibitions – no mean feat for a first timer.’

Cornwall Council Schools Art Collection is on display at Falmouth Art Gallery from 19 September – 14 November and its sister exhibition is on display at the Royal Cornwall Museum from 12 September – 31 December.  Both venues are open for timed ticketed visits.  Please book through www.falmouthartgallery.com and www.royalcornwall.org

 

A Day In The Life: Ellie Smith, Project Support Apprentice

Welcome to our new blog series, ‘A Day In The Life…’ which is based on each member of the CMP team and what they get up to on a typical day at work.

First up is Ellie Smith, wAVE Digital Project Administrator Apprentice. Ellie is working full time on various administrative aspects of the wAVE project, as well as working towards a Level 3 Apprenticeship and Diploma in Business Administration.

Read on for more on how Ellie spends her time at Cornwall Museums Partnership.

When I was asked to write a blog post about my ‘typical’ day as a Project Support Apprentice, I began to compile a list of what I do each day. Eventually, when that list was spilling onto a third page, I realised that there is no typical day as an apprentice. One of the real joys of my job-role is that I am always doing something different and, more often than not, something new. Actually, I would say a day in the life of a Project Support Apprentice is summed up by doing something new; whether it’s training, using practical skills, or meeting new people. This has pushed me to see challenges and unfamiliar tasks as a way to increase my understanding of the sector and apply the knowledge I’ve gained in practical ways.

Essentially, every day as an apprentice is a school day, particularly as an apprentice on the wAVE project. A key aspect of the project that I help to run is our ‘Immersive Tech Introductions’ sessions, which have been set up to increase the digital skills of SMEs across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Not only have I learned so much about event organisation through actually putting on these training sessions, I have also been opened up to a wealth of knowledge from the immersive tech experts who have hosted the various sessions.

A good portion of my time is spent doing research and development, specific to the modules in my BTEC qualification – this can be anything from ICT and administration to more complex project management skills. What I value most about my typical working day is that I am always presented with opportunities to practically apply the knowledge I am gaining through my theoretical work. For me, having tangible ways to put new skills into practice really motivates me to keep improving and allows me to reflect on the work I’ve done. For example, since I have done a lot of theoretical work on digital communication, I have noticed a huge difference in the quality of the social media and marketing content I have created.

It’s not just the skills and knowledge I gain in my day-to-day role that has such an impact on my personal development, I have gained so much value and insight from all of the people I meet through wAVE. One day we may be working with an innovative tech company, like Hi9, the next day I get to meet the incredible staff and volunteers at one of our partner museums. Whomever it is, I always come away having learned something new, whether it is a different point of view, cross-sector knowledge, or an interesting fact about a museum’s collection. Getting to work with such a diverse range of passionate people really is one of my favourite things about going to work each day.

Though this isn’t really a recount of my typical day at work (usually emails, Zoom meetings, spreadsheets, Canva, and a lot of keyboard bashing) I wanted to write about what I feel defines my role in particular. I don’t think there will be another point in my career where I have so many opportunities to try out new things, absorb knowledge, and have the opportunity to get it wrong and try again.

That’s why I love doing this apprenticeship, each day is filled with the prospect of opportunity and fresh perspectives. I think everyone could benefit from a bit more of ‘something new’ in their typical day at work.

 

-Ellie Smith

Ellie works Monday – Friday and can be reached at eleanor@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

An introduction to the UK National Arts Strategies (NAS) Creative Community Fellowship and Culture Card

Celine Elliot is Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Engagement Lead. Having joined in 2019, Celine leads our programme of engagement support for museums in Cornwall and Scilly. Having gained experience working with collections in the north, returning to Cornwall has allowed Celine to focus her attention on the diverse and inspirational organisations which make up the museum community in the region.

This year, Celine was awarded an inaugural UK National Arts Strategies (NAS) Creative Community Fellowship.

Please keep reading for more from Celine on this fantastic achievement and how it will link to the current projects she is working on within Cornwall Museums Partnership.

As the Engagement Lead for CMP I work on a variety of strategic partnerships and offer support and develop opportunities for local museums, strengthening connections with local communities.

This year I was honoured to be awarded an inaugural UK National Arts Strategies (NAS) Creative Community Fellowship. Funded by Arts Council England and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, this incredible opportunity was previously only available in the United States. The programme provides the chance to develop a network of likeminded creative leaders across the country while applying design-thinking to a project you are working on.

For me, this will offer me the chance to look at the next steps of the Culture Card project. CMP and partner museums have been working together with Carefree Cornwall – a charity who support children in care and care leavers – to create free opportunities for Care Leavers to explore collections, their own creative potential and further embed museums as welcoming spaces for young people from this demographic. Funded throughout 2020 by Cornwall Council, coordinated by Zoe Burkett at Penlee House Gallery and Museum with expert artistic input from Emma Saffy Wilson, the project has also offered a Youth Work Support Apprenticeship and – as a result of Covid-19 – a new, digital element including a podcast exploring the experiences of Care Leavers.

My background in Youth and Community work means this is close to the origins of my museum practice: rights-based and focused on cultural democracy. Developing this project to its full potential, with the support of the NAS Creative Community Fellowship, is a privilege. The Culture Card project is currently in the running for a national award in the 2020 National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum and I hope that we can begin to see the approach pioneered by Carefree, CMP and Cornish museums adopted by other cultural institutions in the UK.

PRESS RELEASE – 25 Arts & Culture Entrepreneurs Selected for UK Creative Community Fellows

 

-Celine Elliot

Celine works Monday – Friday and can be reached at celine@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk

Cabaret – Part Five

Citizen Curators is a free work-based training programme in museum awareness and modern curatorial practice aimed at volunteers from our community. The programme is provided by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with seven museums, with the main goal of providing a new form of meaningful museum participation.

The programme is led by Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator and Director of the Curatorial Research Centre. The Citizen Curators have just completed year two out of three and to celebrate, we wanted to share with you some of the wonderful experiences some of our Citizen Curators have experienced throughout the programme.

Please keep reading to hear from Citizen Curator Andrew Fentham, stationed at Falmouth Art Gallery…

As part of my role as a Citizen Curator, I was invited to help curate a Cornish National Collection. I chose to submit a t-shirt owned by my neighbour Julian Mockford. The item was produced by Cabaret Mechanical Theatre and features a design by Paul Spooner, suggesting links to Falmouth’s automata-making community. I interviewed Julian to ask what the t-shirt meant to him, and what it might tell us about a place and time in Cornish history.

AF: You were given this ‘Egypt: Land of Mystery’ t-shirt by Sue Jackson of Cabaret. How did you know her and why did she give you the shirt?

JM: The truth is I met Sue through her husband Peter, who was the doyen of the antique trade in Cornwall and elsewhere. Urbane, witty and wise with a dry sense of humour! I knew him through the trade and when I opened Serendipity [an antiques shop] in 1982 at the bottom of the High Street our friendship blossomed and within days I met Sue. She was one of those rare people who could truly be considered a ‘life force’! Halfway up the High Street (on the opposite side) was the curious, not to say eccentric exhibition known as Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. Sue had a hundred ideas a day and quite a few of them worked! Skipping forward: how Cabaret ended up in Covent Garden was down to the narrow, blinkered attitude of the then Falmouth Town Council, the imagination of Sue, as well as Ken Livingstone (then the Leader of the GLC). At one of our riotous and jolly parties (my birthday) Sue gave me the Egypt t-shirt which has been much loved and well worn (hence its condition) over the last thirty years!

AF: How do you remember the Cabaret store/space and the High Street in those days?

JM: The High Street was the principle entry into Falmouth and in the 70s, 80s and 90s was a bustling, thriving hub of activity mainly centred around the antique trade. Among others were the Gealer / Jackson clan with several shops related to the trade. Also the Star & Garter pub which was previously Demelza’s – a naughty night club! In the early days Peter and Sue opened Oscar’s, a wine bar which in those days was a first virtually, for Cornwall! Oscar’s from day one became the centre of much of the entertainment and business of the High Street. Many a deal was struck over a glass of wine! Oscar’s had an upright piano, as did the Star & Garter, and anyone who could was welcome to play on either of them. Jazz nights on a Monday became an institution at the Star and ran for many years. Sue wrote poetry and we had readings in Oscar’s, and later in Covent Garden. The mix of shops covered all aspects of the trade, from stripped pine at the Old Town Hall, to Peter’s notoriously serious antiques shop, and down to me at Serendipity. There was also a splendid art deco building that housed a ships’ chandlery. The building remains, in a state of dilapidation, but the chandlery has long gone. Many were the parties held in the street, virtually any excuse would do (or none)! There was a tremendous sense of belonging. Cabaret was an important piece of the life and character of the street with its famous bubble blowing machine. When Cabaret left and also Peter’s pivotal antiques shop, it marked the beginning of the end and the High Street became what you see today. A charming mix of shops, everything from a baker to a tattooist or two.

AF: This t-shirt is designed by Paul Spooner. You have another by Tim Hunkin. Who else do you remember in association with Cabaret and the High Street?

JM: My good friend Tina Fabray worked for both Peter and then Sue in Cabaret both in Falmouth and London. I also remember many model makers including Paul Spooner, Tim Hunkin, Peter Markey and Danny Markey, among others.

AF: There is a mural by Peter Markey near Falmouth Art Gallery, at the bottom of Webber Hill. Can you tell us about it and its recent restoration?

JM: It was commissioned by Falmouth Civic Society in 1985 and executed from a drawing by Peter Markey. It depicts a view from Gylling Street in Falmouth. Peter Markey taught Art at Falmouth School, as a department. Certain features of the mural (the cats, for example) are highly characteristic of sculptures he had in Cabaret. The wall which the mural is on is now the back of Tesco, and it was restored in 2018. [The restoration was carried out by Falmouth Art Gallery as part of their Heritage Lottery funded project ‘A Cabaret of Mechanical Movement’ – more info at automata.falculture.org]

AF: Coming back to the t-shirt, what personal significance does it hold for you? Is it at all representative?

JM: Yes, it reminds me of a very happy period of life in the High Street in the late 70s and early 80s.

Falmouth Art Gallery is currently open for free timed-ticket visits. More info is available at their website www.falmouthartgallery.com

Picture captions:
1. Detail from Cabaret t-shirt by Paul Spooner (photo: Becky Screeton)
2. Cabaret t-shirt by Paul Spooner (photo: Becky Screeton)
3. Peter Markey mural on Webber Street, Falmouth (photo: Andrew Fentham)
4. Julian Mockford and Mango the cat in their garden in Penryn (photo: David Devanny)

 

-Andrew Fentham, Falmouth Art Gallery