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Conference call for contributions - from margins to the core?

From the Margins to the Core? - An international conference exploring the
shifting roles and increasing significance of diversity and equality in
contemporary museum and heritage practice and policy. (Working title)

To be held at the Sackler Centre for arts education, V&A, 24, 25, 26 March 2010
Run jointly with University of Leicester´s Department of Museum Studies

The key aim of the conference is to review equality and diversity policy and practice
over the last ten years in order to reaffirm the importance and centrality of this work
and to inform future directions. We hope it will be an opportunity to showcase some
of the energy and creativity of this work both in the UK and abroad but also to share
complexities, difficulties encountered and lessons learnt.

It will bring together people who work as curators, educators, policy makers, managers, academics, researchers, artists, students and community heritage specialists as well as youth workers and teachers and others who work with the sector. The organisations represented may have an international, national or regional remit; operate within a local community or have a specific diversity agenda, thus encouraging dialogue between those working within different contexts. Alongside the conference will be other activities - films, performances, interactive and contemporary programmes and opportunities to network and socialise.

We invite contributions which, in addressing the questions below, help various
stakeholders explore successful strategies for incorporating diversity in what they do.
We welcome contributions which offer a serious critique of policy and practice; which
help us to take stock and thereby re-envisage the future but, at the same time, take
account of the different contexts in which we operate.

Themes and questions
Margins to the core
How far have organisations moved from addressing diversity through one off projects,
often led by one or two key departments or designated staff, to incorporating such
issues into strategic planning and the core business of all staff and spheres of activity? Has the emphasis on reaching diverse audiences been at the expense of exploring how diversity affects other areas - who we employ, what we research and collect, the narratives we tell, how collections are classified and made accessible? How do these different spheres of activity interrelate and what are the barriers to developing a more holistic approach? What, if anything, do we risk in ‘embedding´ diversity across our organisations?

Connecting or competing equalities?
How interconnected are the different diversity strands - disability, gender, race, sexual
and gender identity, age, socio-economic status, religion or belief? Do we emphasise
one at the expense of another and is class often the poor relation? How feasible is it to move forward on all agendas simultaneously or is there a case for identifying priorities depending on the specific local or global context? How are strategic objectives arrived at and what is the impact of the different political, social, cultural and geographic contexts in which we operate? What is the role of the museum and heritage sector in promoting equality, social justice and mutual understanding; countering extremism and prejudice and where is the evidence for contributions in these fields?

Drivers for Change
What are the key external drivers for change, the role of policy making at an
international, national or local level and how does the understanding and application
of diversity policy and practice differ across the world? What are the most effective
institutional drivers for change - leadership, governance, strategic policy and planning, resource allocation, staff development? How democratic are we at listening to staff at all levels within the organisation? How effective are we in consulting externally and developing sustainable and equitable partnerships which encourage collaboration and build capacity of various stakeholders?

Call for contributions
We welcome contributions from people working in a wide range of contexts. We are
interested in papers which explore the implications for different areas of activity from
the wider policy issues, to practical case-studies that examine collecting, display,
employment, public programme and engagement, for example. We are keen to use a
variety of methods of engagement (papers, workshops, 15 minutes case studies,
‘conversations with´, object focused sessions, collections´ interventions, performance, films, on line, poster sessions etc) so please think ‘outside the box´ in thinking how you might contribute.


Complete the attached expression of interest form and send it by Friday 1 May 2009 to:

Sarah Ames, Projects and Planning Assistant
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London, SW7 2RL

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