As you’ll have seen from the post further down, I’ve been very busy for the past 3 weeks co-ordinating the campaign to save the Livesey Museum for Children. This has been voluntary of course, and is not due to any Flow business interest in the Museum. I’ve wanted to give time out of sympathy for the staff, desire to preserve a resource that is so valued by my community and to draw attention to the value of an arts-based discovery approach to learning.
However, Flow continues to be very successful. Here are a few of our current projects:
- Developing learning resources for schools and families for the international touring exhibition Science of Survival. This is offering a glimpse into the world in 2050, and challenging visitors to explore how we might survive and thrive in a context of climate change.
- Continuing to work with the Wellcome Trust to develop an ‘exhibition in a box’ and CPD provision to promote creative learning in science.
- Facilitating two projects for Creative Partnerships London West. One is working with digital agency Action Dog, on a project with Claremont High and Grove Park Special School enabling children to create metaphorical messages about the environment, using words, images and sounds. See Action Dog’s website. The other is working with three primary schools in the White City area on a creative enquiry project to explore the history of the White City exhibition created for the London Olympics 1908.
- Evaluating the Government Art Collection website
- We have been commissioned to undertake the National Collections Online Study, which is led by a consortium of Culture 24, Science Museum, V&A and National Maritime Museum. More on this soon, as we will create an online community of enquiry for interested specialists.
- We completed the online resource on the history of the North West Passage in a context of climate change, for the National Maritime Museum
- We’ve been asked by the Hunterian Museum (Royal College of Surgeons) to develop their learning programme on the History of Medicine.
- We’ve been facilitating change for the new Learning and Interpretation team at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
There’s more but that will do for the list.
I was just watching Newsnight with Deborah Bull and Professor Jim Al-Khlalili set up in agonistic opposition to discuss the Government’s Cultural Offer for children, launched today. This is a joint commitment between DCSF and DCMS to ensure that all children get 5 hours a week access to the arts and culture.
One thing niggled me about the media coverage I just saw: Deborah was set up to defend the arts and Jim was set up to defend the sciences, whereas the best kind of learning integrates the two. (See my earlier posts on ‘creative research’ or creative enquiry as models for new approaches to delivering the curriculum.) He said that understanding that our atoms are made from stardust is just as important and powerful as anything covered in the arts. Well, last week my daughter made a wonderful picture about how we are made from stardust, after we showed her a clip from his Atom programme.
The media coverage and the overt presentation of the Cultural Offer bothers me too. The name of the scheme, Find Your Talent, emphasises the part of culture that is to do with virtuosity in the expressive and performing arts. It does not overtly refer to the parts of cultural engagement that are about critical systems thinking, about human interactions with our environment, about interpreting diverse cultural collections and heritage. However, reading between the lines the scheme does actually extend beyond the arts to include museums and libraries:
Here is the press release content from the MLA & ACE:
Museums Libraries and Archives Council and Arts Council England to help young people discover their creative talents. (13 February 2008)
The Government announced today a new scheme designed to give young people the opportunity to experience at least five hours of high quality arts and culture every week. The ‘Find Your Talent’ project will be piloted initially in 10 locations and will explore the best methods of helping young people discover and develop their creative talents and personal skills through direct exposure to high quality arts and culture. The new scheme is co-funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and Arts Council England through the financial support they receive from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Children Schools and Families. The project will give young people the chance to curate exhibitions and engage creatively with libraries and archives. They will also get the chance to gain hands-on experience of acting, playing a musical instrument, making broadcast programmes and digital art. They will also get the chance to work with professional writers and to attend first class performances.
£25 million has been allocated over the next three years to support 10 pilot projects and the Government is now seeking expressions of interest from those wishing to pilot the programme in various parts of the country. In addition, the Government has also announced £110 million of funding for Creative Partnerships, who will be managing the launch and administration of the pilot programme. Roy Clare Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that every child is engaged with culture at an early age and that their horizons at school are widened. Culture should inform every child’s experiences in life whether it is through the wondrous collections in our museums, by meeting authors and bringing literature to life at their local library or discovering their family’s and community’s histories through our extensive archives. Our aspiration should be that through this offer our children will develop a lifelong passion for culture”
Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: “We are delighted that the government recognises the value of introducing art and creativity into every child’s life. Great art enriches lives and helps us understand the world around us, no matter what age we are, and creative skills are essential no matter what career we choose to pursue. Exposure to art is a gift for life.
‘Find Your Talent’ will enable us to bring that up-close experience of art and culture to children and young people across the whole country.”
Paul Collard, National Director, Creative Partnerships, said: “This is a great opportunity to involve far more young people in seeing and making great art and culture. Activities as diverse as seeing an opera, making a film or helping curate an exhibition should be part of every child’s experiences. Unlocking children’s talents and engaging them in the wonders of art and culture is something Creative Partnerships is passionate about and has a strong track record in doing through thousands of schools.”
For further information visit http://www.creative-partnerships.com/offer
The Friends of the Livesey Museum for Children have been making progress. We are constituted as a not for profit company, aiming for trust status. We have put in a proposal to the Council to run it as a museum and library, in keeping with Livesey’s original deeds that it should be run as a library forever. A charities lawyer has examined the deeds and believes that they prove Southwark can only assign its trust to another body to carry out Livesey’s will, and can’t charge for this or sell the building. However, further investigations are ongoing, as there may have been a transfer to Southwark’s ownership, although no legal proof of this has yet been provided. The Charities Commission has agreed to investigate for us.
We are also progressing with a feasibility and funding plan (which I’m leading on), although we need to ascertain the situation with the building before we can finalise a budget and business plan.
We have created a proper Friends website, which now draws together all the news and links into one place:
We are also using Google Groups (perhaps switching to a Google Non-Profit portal) to manage our membership data, detailed discussions etc. If you want to join the Friends, ask me for an invitation to join this Google Group.
Updated post: 25th February
Southwark Council have now finally voted to close the Livesey Museum for Children and it will shut to the public on 1st March. This is due to the local government grant cuts from central government. It is a wonderful museum, home to some of the most innovative, magical and playful exhibitions, comparable to the best exhibitions you will find across the country. Anybody who saw Theatre Rites’ Finders Keepers will testify that the most extraordinary transformative experiences can happen in such a deprived corner of London. The Livesey’s recent exhibition about numbers, The Magnificent Twelve, was such a hit with my daughter on a school visit that she begged us every weekend that she could take us there on a guided tour. Recently, we’ve enjoyed our visit to the X Marks the Spot exhibition which is a creative take on mapping, including mapping your family tree and your body. The hit of the exhibition is the treasure island where you can hide treasure then challenge your friends to use the map to find it.
Unfortunately the Council is determined to close it and sell off the building. Although the vote is done, it is important to continue to protest, partly to demonstrate the value of creative learning and local cultural resources, and partly to show up their maladministration in the way they have handled it. They have not consulted staff and users. They have not done a proper appraisal and have not sought the correct information about visitor numbers.
I have created a Facebook campaign group, Save Southwark’s Museums. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8314768438 Please join Facebook if only to support this campaign. Or, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07890 540178 to discuss how you can help. The next stage of the campaign involves forming a limited non profit company and negotiating with Southwark to take over running the Museum, which would involve ensuring that they don’t sell the building and let us use the art and heritage collections that form the core of the exhibitions. This also means fundraising.
Because I’ve been co-ordinating this campaign, at a time of close family bereavement too, and at a busy time with Flow, I’ve been unable to keep up with blogging, but hopefully I’ll find more time for this soon.