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Rural Diversity Network

Introduced in January 2017, the Rural Diversity Network (RDN) was initiated as part of the Arts Council England supported Change Makers leadership programme with Dr Tehmina Goskar, and is now coordinated by the team at Cornwall Museums Partnership. 

Through the Rural Diversity Network, we are trying to tackle geographic exclusion. Cultural policy around diversity has often been centered on the visible diversity of big cities. The Network aims to balance this by providing another view and campaigning for equity for rural regionsWhere investment in culture in the rural regions has been biased towards creating an offer for tourists, resulting in inclusion challenges for organisations engaging with local communities the Rural Diversity Network will help to challenge, inform and develop new practice.

 

“Our charity exists to create positive social change with museums and for this to happen we need to understand, and respond to, the full diversity of the communities museums exist to serve. We realised that the rural dimension was often missing from national strategy and
policy, and so our commitment through the Rural Diversity Network is to create the space for expertise and perspectives, drawn from rural communities nationally and internationally, which help shape better museums for everyone.” Emmie Kell CEO Cornwall Museums Partnership

 

Common aims of the Rural Diversity Network

  • Representation and advocacy to policy makers and stakeholders (including communities and their anchors).
  • A place to put diversity into practice – training activities to help us apply practical diversity in our businesses and programmes
  • Networking, with each other and with each other’s organisations to find common cause
  • A safe space to challenge and be challenged, including having difficult conversations without giving or taking offence
  • Use Cornish diversity as action learning that others can draw comparison from, particularly how the Cornish National Minority intersects with other categories of diversity.

We want to start a conversation and get people talking.

Starting from January 2020 until December 2020, we are using the powers of social media to get the hashtag #RDNetwork used as a place for conversation. Each month, we will bring in a guest host for an hour on the Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Twitter page where, using #RDNetwork, we aim to get a topical discussion going.

 

#RDNetwork Campaign Report – 6 months

We are pleased to share with you our exciting campaign report which highlights the first 6 months of our #RDNetwork takeovers.

Please click here to take a look at this report to get a feel of our engagement figures so far, and some the conversations that were had.

 

 

Who has guest hosted for us so far?

 

January

Age UK Cornwall guest hosted in January where the topic was social isolation and loneliness. The questions asked were;

  1. How do you connect to your community digitally?
  2. What are the biggest barriers facing you when trying to reach your local community?
  3. How do we better support an ageing population?
  4. Please share your good and bad experiences of loneliness

 

February

In February we had St. Petrocs guest hosting where the topic was housing / social and economic deprivation. The questions we asked were;

  1. Are there any lessons that you have learnt from urban areas that we could apply to more rural locations?
  2. What role do museums and galleries play in homelessness? Are we able to shine a light, work with people who have experienced homelessness and is there anything that museums can be doing?
  3. Although it may be practically hard to help ‘shine a light’ can we engage more online?

 

March

Fiona Wotton, Director of Cornwall 365 took over the reigns of the Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Twitter page at the end of March, where the topic was ‘tourism’. We discussed diversity and inclusion in this context which is different to the visible diversity of big cities on which cultural policy is usually based. Now, with the onset of the coronavirus we asked how museums and tourism businesses can work together to support the visitor economy and their communities. Here are the questions we shared on Tuesday 31 March 2020 between 7-8pm;

  1. What are the impacts of coronavirus on museums and other businesses in tourist areas?
  2. How can museums and local businesses support one another during this difficult time?
  3. Are there online services which heritage organisations could share to help people stay connected to Cornwall and support the tourism sector to recover in future?
  4. What one thing could the government do to help the visitor economy recover in future?

 

April

On Wednesday 29 April, Director of External Affairs of SS Great Britain, Nerys Watts, hosted our takeover on Twitter to discuss health and wellbeing and rural isolation. Here are the questions we asked during our #RDNetwork hour;

  1. Has your health and wellbeing been impacted in isolation? If so, how?
  2. What have we learnt from lockdown regarding the needs of isolated people and communities?
  3. What impact can museums and galleries have on wellbeing?
  4. How could museums and galleries help tackle isolation during or after COVID-19?

 

May

 

We are looking forward to introducing Kids in Museums to our #RDNetwork takeover on Wednesday 27 May between 7-8pm. The topic of conversation was, you’ve guessed it; children and young people. The questions we asked are below;

  1. How can museums and galleries better support mental health and wellbeing in children and young people
  2. How could museums and galleries do more to support their younger community?
  3. How could museums and galleries help tackle mental health in children and young people during or after COVID-19?
  4. Do you feel museums and galleries play a big enough part in mental health awareness, wellbeing and health of children and young people? What would you like to see more of?

 

June

We were delighted to welcome Sophie from Queer Kernow to our monthly #RDNetwork takeover in June where the topic was LGBTQ+ in rural and isolated communities.

The questions we asked were;

1. Do you feel there is adequate support for the LGBTQ+ community in Cornwall and IoS?
2. How could museums and galleries do more to support the LGBTQ+ community?
3. Is there enough support for young people in the LGBTQ+ community, especially in rural communities?
4. How do you feel museums and galleries could better play a role in the LGBTQ+ community?

 

July

We were excited to announce that July’s #RDNetwork guest host was Tehmina Goskar, Director of the Curatorial Research Centre. Tehmina brought with her a wealth of knowledge on volunteering, and with being one of the Rural Diversity Networks original coordinators back in 2017, we were delighted that Tehmina could join us for the July takeover.

The theme was volunteering and below are the questions we asked…

  1. Museums and cultural orgs in rural regions rely on large volunteer workforces. Is this participation or just free labour?
  2. In what ways do museums in rural regions exclude people from participating as volunteers?
  3. Rural museums are so focused on the visitor tourist economy most close ‘for the season’. What opportunities are there for volunteer-led projects during closure? Examples?
  4. What needs to change to diversify our typical rural museum volunteer teams? What kinds of initiatives should rural museums embrace?

 

August

For August’s #RDNetwork takeover, we were delighted that Pool School Gallery guest hosted took over our Twitter to talk about education.

Below are the four questions we asked…

  1. How could museums & galleries do more to support teachers, especially post Covid, in promoting creativity in schools?
  2. What initiatives could museums & galleries do to encourage young people to think about a career in the creative sector? For example, would a school a school leavers scheme work?
  3. How do extra-curricular creative activities like ARTiculation and the Saturday Club benefit young people?
  4. Art can do different things for different people: how else could we use creativity to promote health and wellbeing for young people?

 

September

We were excited to have had Wo King of Hi9, a Tech Agency providing bot Design & bot Workshops,  join us for our September #RDNetwork takeover, which happened on Tuesday 29 September.

The topic we discussed was ‘digital’ and the following questions were asked…

  1. How could museums and galleries use digital technology to help isolated communities feel connected again?
  2. What digital assets could museums and galleries use to create more connections throughout rural communities?
  3. One of the things that COVID-19 has shown is how some of our communities were already socially and culturally isolated. How could museum’s and archives digital collections tackle this isolation?
  4. Many museums have advanced digitally throughout lockdown as a way to engage audiences. However, we know not everyone has access to internet or is digitally literate. Are there digital solutions and approaches that can address this to ensure that nobody is left out?

 

October

We were absolutely thrilled to welcome British writer and poet of Ghanaian and English heritage, Louisa Adjoa Parker to our #RDNetwork Twitter takeover on Tuesday 27 October  where we discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and how museums and galleries can make a positive impact.

The questions Louisa will be asking are…

  1. Some museums have released BLM statements and are often happy to share Black History Month content, but how can we encourage systemic/long-term change?
  2. What good examples of meaningful museum responses to the BLM movement have you seen?
  3. How can museum workers act as allies if their museums have been slow to respond to BLM?
  4. CMP has published its BLM action plan in order that the charity can be held to account against its commitments. How else can we promote accountability in the museums sector?

Please join the conversation and be sure to use the hashtag #RDNetwork

 

Watch this space for updates of forthcoming months, including details of the topics up for discussion and who will be guest hosting.

 

How can you get involved with the #RDNetwork?

It’s simple! All you need to do is head over to Twitter, follow us and join in the conversations using #RDNetwork during the coming months. We will let you know via our social media pages and newsletter when to expect the takeover, and then it’s a case of getting online and engaging with us. We want to hear from you so don’t be shy, let’s get the conversation started.

If you’d like to get involved or guest host for us then please contact our Marketing and Impact Officer, Jody Woolcock. Jody will happily chat to you about ways in which you can get involved.

Please email Jody here; jody@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk