For the past three years, the History of Place project has worked to tell the story of deaf and disabled people over eight historic sites covering 800 years of history. With major support from HLF, this was the first time that this topic received such significant national funding.
Among many results were major exhibitions at MShed, Bristol and the Museum of Liverpool as well as a large display at V&A. You can read more about the extent of the project – from digital games to films, craft projects, oral histories, symposiums and volunteer training by clicking here.
But the project team discovered as the project progressed, how few deaf and disabled people have been able to break through and find work in museums: they encountered a handful of people working as access specialists – but no curators.
Arts Council England’s most recent diversity report put the figure for disabled people in museums at 4% – a fraction of the 20% present in the national workforce. As ACE’s figures have shown more generally, the cultural sector has been much better at talking about diversity than changing the facts on the ground.
How can your museum contribute to change?
As a next move, the Accentuate project – which ran History of Place – is creating a work placement programme for deaf and disabled people. To get it right, the team would really appreciate the candid insights of people from across the independent museum sector and they have created a quick survey to gain feedback.
If your museum has begun to address the issue, please let them know how you achieved this. If it hasn’t, they would be interested in your thoughts about what would escalate change.
The survey begins with simple tick boxes, but there’s a space at the end to give your broader thoughts – and a chance to leave contacts to stay in touch with future developments if you wish.
The survey is anonymous and should take about 5 minutes to complete with a deadline of 15 March.
Open Up: Museums for everyone can help you think about how to make your museum relevant to people who don’t currently visit and take action that will increase your visitor numbers
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