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Responding to Art Fund Impact Report

Here at the Arts Marketing Association (AMA), we r
ead Art Fund’s research on the challenges facing museums and galleries as a result of Covid-19 with a keen eye, drawing out many useful nuggets of insight and information.

Like the respondents to the Art Fund survey, we’ve also seen members reporting that while many museums and galleries can open from July 4, there are many planning to open much later. The cost of the measures needed to open safely, versus the ability to stimulate audiences to return with confidence in the ‘new normal’, is not a straightforward equation.

The ‘Digital Divide’ which Art Fund identified, where organisations who had already invested in digital strategy and capabilities are coping better than organisations with less developed digital presence pre-Covid-19, is a significant threat to the sector. We’re currently working on the Digital Heritage Lab, made possible through funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of the Digital Skills Initiative, to help small organisations, who tend to be more likely to have less digital capacity, ensure they are able to upskill for digital, and plan strategically with a focus on what is right for them.

Training is going to be key to ensuring that the sector has the right skills to get through the current situation, but it is also something that tends to be cut back on when budgets are under pressure. We need to find new ways of doing things, and that can’t be done without investing in learning. At the same time, the sector is under huge strain, financially, and grants and funds, such as the one from National Heritage Lottery Fund for Digital Heritage Lab, are going to be more vital than ever in keeping the sector upskilled and up to date with the latest thinking.  

It’s reassuring to see that Directors in the Art Fund research say they are planning to train their teams, and we hope that that will indeed be the case. Digital and Diversity training are identified priority areas in the report, and we hope that some of the respondents will be thinking of the AMA for that. We have a strong history in helping people achieve impact through learning and doing, with the Audience Diversity Academy and Digital Lab in particular.

We’re working hard to make sure that everyone can still access some form of training, regardless of budget, through a combination resources, training videos and webinars on the CultureHive and AMA websites. 

We recognise that the sector would benefit from a ‘one stop shop’ to find rated resources and training, and CultureHive, which AMA manages, began life as such a hub. We’ve done a lot of work in compiling resources for members and non-members alike, here and on the AMA website. We are soon to launch new learning pillars and pathways so that people can self-identify the skills they need in their roles, and be guided towards appropriate resources and training.  

We’ve made as much of our training free as possible in recent months, to try and support the sector, and we’re always conscious that budgets are tighter than ever. We’re working hard to make sure that everyone can still access some form of training, regardless of budget, through a combination resources, training videos and webinars on the CultureHive and AMA websites. 

It is great to see organisations like Art Fund helping to highlight the needs and identify potential solutions and support that needs to be in place for the sector to weather the current storm and beyond. It was reassuring to see that the majority of respondents still reported feeling positive, and that sort of mindset, together with having the right support in place from across the sector – not just from sector support organisations like AMA – will really make a difference to future outcomes.

You can read Art Fund’s full Covid-19 Impact Report here.

Applications are open for The Lab section of the Digital Heritage Lab which provides mentoring support for small to medium-sized heritage organisations based in the UK. Find out more.

Image: AMA conference 2019 © Marion Botella