My Experiences of Firm Foundations Part Two – Elisa Harris

Firm Foundations part two started at the beautiful Tate St Ives. It was great to catch up with everyone again after a three-month gap. The lightning talks in the morning were quite different from the first time around with everyone speaking much more confidently about their projects.

The morning session was focussed on planning permission and building regulations, with a really useful workshop run by representatives from Cornwall Council in which we were able to ask direct questions e.g. What counts as a non-material amendment? and What requires a resubmission to planning? This was followed by a sneak preview of the Anna Boghiguian show with Sara Matson, Senior Curator at Tate St. Ives, which was a rather special added bonus! 

In the afternoon the course covered procurement and value engineering and the day was topped off with a delicious evening meal in the Tate’s Clore Sky studio. We were privileged to be joined by Marketing Manager Arwen Fitch and Andy Bruton who chatted with us openly about their experience of the capital redevelopment – the highs, the lows and the lessons learned.

Andy Bruton talking at the February 2019 Firm Foundations programme

Andy Bruton giving a talk at Firm Foundations

Day 2 was held at Porthmeor Studios and this is where we got into the nitty-gritty of the construction process. It has to be said that by the afternoon we were all suffering a bit from information overload and it was helpful to be reminded that we don’t have to be experts in every field, the project manager you appoint is there to guide you through the process.

The final session was led by Chris Hibbert, Manager of the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust, who managed the £4 million renovation of Porthmeor Studios. He gave an inspirational talk and a tour of the studios which a great way of demonstrating how everything we’d learnt could be put into practice.

We were all a bit sad when the course came to an end but we’ve agreed to stay in touch and will be planning a reunion at Krowji towards the end of our Phase 2 redevelopment project, which is now underway!

You can find out more about the upcoming 2019/2020 Firm Foundations programme here.

 – Elisa Harris, Krowji Studio Manager
www.krowji.org.uk

Guest Blog: Citizen Curators Invited to Curate the Cornish National Collection

The Citizen Curators who undertake Cornwall Museums Partnership’s free introductory curatorial training and museum awareness course are being asked to collaboratively curate a collection distributed among our museums that reflects the diversity of Cornish society past and present. 

How?

The Citizen Curators, past and future, will improve our knowledge of new research and contribute to improved understanding of the significance of Cornish National Minority Status by:

  1. Undertaking new research and sharing an understanding of existing collections that have been under-utilised or forgotten, particularly in relation to poorly-represented people
  2. Identify a starting group of c.70 items from museum collections across Cornwall and by disseminating this knowledge through online platforms 
  3. Making recommendations for items which reflect Cornishness(es) that museums should collect today
  4. Supporting dialogue with audiences about the project, so that audiences are encouraged to contribute to debate and content.

Why National Collection? 

We are calling this a National Collection to directly reflect National Minority status recognised by the UK Government through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in April 2014. The Framework Convention is also linked to the European Charter of Human Rights and therefore the recognition of those who self-identity as Cornish is a human right. This status and formal UK Government recognition will not be affected by Brexit as the Council of Europe is not part of the EU.

There are different understandings of nationality, nationhood and nation, many of them culturally informed, some of them politically-charged. We need to recognise the existence of all of these in our museums. The Cornish National Collection is intended to celebrate the national without straying into the nationalistic (wisdom spoken by Allison Fox, Curator at Manx National Heritage–the Isle of Man is a modern Celtic nation like Cornwall).

Even though Cornwall is not a nation-state, the corporate of Cornish people inside and outside Cornwall may be thought of as a nation on an equal basis as Scots, Irish, Welsh or Manx. National Minorities like the Cornish can transcend current state boundaries, e.g. the Sami of northern Scandinavia and parts of Russia. Although ethnicity is an important component of Cornish identity to some, National Minority status offers a much broader scope for self-identity that can relate to: birth, ancestry or shared cultural experience.

We are working out how best to represent this idea in Kernewek, the Cornish Language. It might be Argh Kenedhlek Kernow which means Cornwall’s National Ark.

Rationale

Across the ancient, military, social, natural, industrial, artistic and scientific heritage held in our collections are the hidden (and arguably the most important stories) relating to Cornwall’s cultural heritage, identities and impact upon the world. The Cornish were recognised as a National Minority by the UK Government in 2014 and Cornwall’s museums need to take a leading role in ensuring Cornwall’s cultural heritage is understood and shared in all of its diversity, milestones and controversies.

With unprecedented access to the historical collections of seven museums, the Citizen Curators will explore which objects of local, national and international significance might create a Cornish National Collection that is distributed across the consortia of museums and the communities they serve. They will research, examine and advance ideas around Cornish identity by asking new questions, presenting previously untold or under-examined stories and sharing the collection in new ways in the museum, outside the museum, and across digital channels.

Through their learning and development Citizen Curators will develop an approach to identifying the objects of a Cornish National Collection and explore how they might be interpreted through programming, exhibitions, outreach and online. They will propose areas of need for contemporary collecting, including the collection of digital artefacts. Previous cohorts will be part of this peer-to-peer process with wider staff, volunteers and users. 

Two of the Citizen Curators examining some of Penlee House Gallery and Museum's collection in the object handling session.

Achieving impact

Cornish identity and distinctiveness is a real and contemporary issue for communities in Cornwall today. Increasingly in Cornwall, discussions about Cornish identity are becoming politicised and extreme; outside Cornwall, Cornishness is usually dismissed as a joke or unheard of. 

There is a growing need for a more nuanced, relevant and balanced exploration of multiple Cornish identities. This is a space museums in Cornwall can fill.  Our museums are rooted within their communities. 

Re-examining the hidden, lost and forgotten objects with new eyes will enable greater recognition of Cornwall’s cultural heritage and its multiple dimensions. The programme will challenge the cohort to use their creativity within curatorial practice to explore new ways to interpret, share and support an inclusive dialogue with audiences in Cornwall about what Cornish minority status means to them.

It’s early days, we are viewing this curating project as more of a campaign than an end product as we do not know to where this will eventually lead.

Next steps

We are asking Citizen Curators and colleagues to:

  • Take part in the Cornish National Collection First Survey (August 2019)
  • Make a list of things you want to know more about in relation to Cornish identities
  • Identify themes and items from your projects that might be included 
  • Think about under-represented people, ideas and stories that we will curate
  • Identify types of artefacts outside museums collections that could be included, e.g. intangible heritage.

Keep in touch with developments

Dr. Tehmina Goskar of the Curatorial Research Centre will be overseeing the development of Argh Kenedhlek Kernow – Cornish National Collection. Contact: tehmina@curatorialresearch.com.

Equip your Facilitator’s Toolkit

This September we are excited to be offering a fantastic training opportunity for people who facilitate meetings, events, and workshops based in the South West.

The two-day ‘Facilitator’s Toolkit’ workshop, delivered by the Association of Facilitators, is a short course that will refresh the basics of facilitator style and provide you with new ways and confidence to lead groups and teams with a focus on assertiveness for facilitators. It is designed for those who want to consolidate, broaden and enliven their style of facilitation. You will be provided with facilitation models, tools and tips.

Course Content

This is an introductory course in facilitation, but it is not basic. If you are looking for a core facilitation model, and are keen to develop your personal style – then this is for you.

The workshop will explore your role as a group facilitator, paying particular attention to skills practice, and awareness building in the live group setting. Participants will have the opportunity to complete the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Inventory, a short questionnaire designed to identify ones preferred approach to conflict and to broaden one’s skill base. We shall apply assertiveness to the role of facilitator and consider Dimensions of Facilitator Style, a practical toolkit designed to equip you with the confidence and skill to effectively handle group processes and group tasks.

You will learn how to direct and guide groups assertively, this includes leading in cooperative and autonomous ways. You will be encouraged to become aware of your own skills, experience, personality and preferences, and use and flex your facilitator style with self-awareness, authority and personal presence. The topic of Group Dynamics is introduced in the context of choosing an appropriate facilitation style and approach.

Practical skills will include: 
  • Developing an assertive style
  • Managing passive, aggressive, or manipulative behaviours.
  • Contracting, setting and managing expectations
  • Being a catalyst for learning and development – moving things forward
  • Handling emotions, particularly where they hinder group effectiveness
  • Challenging and confronting limiting behaviours and attitudes
  • Working with the prevailing group dynamics to create positive outcomes
  • Planning and structuring a facilitated session
Who is this for?

If you are:

  • Working as a consultant, change agent, trainer to a client organisation
  • Working within an organisation as a change agent, group/team leader, manager or project manager
  • In chairing roles at meetings with a developmental purpose (be that business, charity or education)
  • Occasionally called upon to facilitate groups, meetings and teams
  • Embarking upon a career in facilitation.

Cost: £425 including the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Inventory

Click here to book your place

Please contact Clare Pennington if you have any questions, or call us on 01209 500 750

Guest Blog: Join Us in Year Two of Citizen Curators

Dr Tehmina Goskar is the Director of the Curatorial Research Centre and leads Cornwall Museums Partnership’s Citizen Curators programme. We are delighted that Tehmina has kindly written this blog to answer a few FAQs  for anyone who is interested in taking part in the programme.

We have just completed a successful Year One of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supported Citizen Curators programme. 29 participants who joined as volunteers at their chosen museum successfully completed the programme and received a certificate for their accomplishment.

If you are interested in taking part in Year Two of Citizen Curators, here are some of your questions answered.

Two of the Citizen Curators examining some of Penlee House Gallery and Museum's collection in the object handling session.

 

What is Citizen Curators?

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. It is funded for three years by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund administered by the Museums Association. The Programme Leader is Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Curator & Director of the Curatorial Research Centre.

 

When and where does it take place?

The Citizen Curators course takes place between October 2019 – April 2020. Seven Cornish museums are taking part in the programme: Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Bodmin, Wheal Martyn Clay Works, near St Austell, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, Falmouth Art Gallery, Museum of Cornish Life, Helston, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance and Telegraph Museum Porthcurno.

 

How many places are there?

Each museum has five places. Each year there will be approximately 35 volunteers undertaking the Citizen Curators course.

 

What experience and qualifications do I need?

None. Just a thirst for learning, the ability to demonstrate your curiosity, and be willing to find things out for yourself. You should be able to commit the time needed to make the most of this opportunity. We encourage you bring and to talk about your existing skills and previous experience.

 

A Citizen Curator creating music by hitting a silver plate with a spoon during the interpretation session.

 

How much time do I have to spend on the programme?

You must attend the six core sessions: collections, communities, research, interpretation, communication and curating the Cornish National Collection. These will take place on a monthly basis from October. They will take place in one of the museums in your group. That means about one full day per month. In addition, you will be working on researching and creating content about the collections in your museum. This might be according to a brief set by the museum or it might be on something your group thinks is important. You can expect to commit to between 4 hours to 1 day per fortnight on this. You are welcome to volunteer more hours but this is entirely down to you and your museum. There are also optional opportunities such as field trips and discussion events you will be invited to take part in.

 

What kinds of things will interest me?

Museum collections contain a wealth of untapped knowledge, stories, and ideas from political events and abstract art to family history and science. Our museums are waiting for you to help them share that knowledge with different people. If you get excited by new discoveries, finding something out or asking probing questions then Citizen Curators is for you. The course will teach you how to curate thoughtfully and meaningfully. It will help you to see the relationship between knowledge creation and communication and you will gain a whole set of specific skills as a result.

This year the cohort will be invited to research collections to highlight new stories, particularly those of under-represented people and subjects. This will also include getting involved in the creation of a Cornish National Collection that will reflect the diversity of Cornish society past and present, while also highlighting our distinctive culture.

 

Two Citizen Curators learn how to

 

What do I need to do to sign up?

The seven participating museums are beginning to look for their next candidates. In the first instance, check out their websites and get in touch with the museum that most appeals to you. In due course, they will send you a questionnaire to complete and we will take it from there.

You can contact the museums participating in Citizen Curators by clicking the links below:

Cornwall’s Regimental Museum 

Falmouth Art Gallery

Museum of Cornish Life, Helston

Penlee House Gallery and Museum

Royal Cornwall Museum

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno

Wheal Martyn

 

Dr Tehmina Goskar
Director, Curatorial Research Centre

Citizen Curators programme launched

Last Thursday at Cornwall Museums Partnership’s annual Share and Learn day in Helston, I launched the Citizen Curators Programme and introduced its prospective pilot at Royal Cornwall Museum.

Citizen Curators is basically museum studies in the workplace and takes the place between attending one-off training and a full-on course at a university such as an MA in Museum Studies.

Citizen Curators is a work-based training programme aimed at skilling up volunteers (and also staff who want to develop new skills) in modern curatorial practice. The idea behind this programme was developed over 18 months ago in response to the increasing lack of opportunities to learn curatorial and modern museum skills while working or volunteering in a sustained manner, and have the opportunity to test and assess competencies and in a peer learning framework.

The rural context of Citizen Curators is important. People of smaller museums in large rural regions lack the most access to training, skills, networking and peer groups.

For me it’s an opportunity to experiment with delivering education to workers while they work, and also led by the needs of their work. Colleagues will know about my growing interest and involvement in museum skills development and I am grateful for this opportunity try out something new.

Apart from access to skills and an opportunity to test them out, the Citizen Curators pilot will also focus on recruiting at least 50% under-25s.

The emphasis will be on the participants’ learning goals, rather than on fancying up a regular volunteer opportunity or disguising a dreaded unpaid internship.

That said, participants will have to demonstrate commitment and a dedication to completing the course and creating an outcome that is meaningful to the museum.

It is thanks to Arts Council England support through Cornwall Museums Partnership received through through the Change Makers leadership programme that I am able to conduct this pilot.

Download the Citizen Curators Pilot summary (PDF)

Download the Citizen Curators Flier (PDF)

 

Dr. Tehmina Goskar, Change Maker (Arts Council England supported),
Cornwall Museums Partnership & The Royal Institution of Cornwall

Catalyst Training Courses continue to offer valuable skills

With four training courses already taken place and twelve more to go, the Catalyst Skills Programme has been successfully delivering high quality skills development to help museums thrive, by maximising their fundraising skills. . The Catalyst workshops are carefully designed, and delivered by highly experienced sector specialists and industry experts. The workshops cover a very wide variety of topics – from marketing, PR and social media, to  finance skills for fundraisers, partnership-working, volunteers and trustees’ role in the fundraising process, and many more; there is always something for everyone. The workshops are significantly subsidised through funding from HLF, which means they only cost £20 (instead of £180) for a full day of skills development.

If you are serious about fundraising and helping your museum shine, then make sure that you secure one of the last few places remaining – 2017 is the last year that the Catalyst Programme will be available in Cornwall.

Next up:

May 9: Marketing and branding – The dark arts

May 10: Digital Magic – Websites, PR and Social Media

June 6: How to take your fundraising digital

June 7: Crowdfunding and other digital fundraising stories

For a full list of our upcoming Catalyst training courses, visit our online shop here.

 

And in case you didn’t know… All of the Catalyst workshops are organised and delivered by Cornwall Museums Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of the Catalyst Skills Programme. For further information please contact Yiota, the Catalyst Programme Coordinator, at: yiota@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk.