Conceived as a year-long programme to boost resilience and entrepreneurship among future leaders of the cultural sector, the agenda will be led by Black Country Living Museum in its role as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

The programme centres on an exploration of leadership in cultural, political and commercial spheres and incorporates two three-day residential retreats, eight one-day masterclasses, an overseas study trip and ongoing personal mentoring support.

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This year’s content

The 2020-21 programme will include workshops on governance, leading change and the social purpose of museums, delivered by:

Esme Ward, director of Manchester Museum
Michael Day, former CEO of Historic Royal Palaces
Elaine Heumann Gurian, international museum consultant

Several practical sessions focused on finance, money-making and entrepreneurship will also be held at the Black Country Living Museum and a nearby social enterprise.

Overseas Study Visits also form part of the programme. Previous cohorts have embarked on trips to Finland’s Heureka Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, and the Nuremburg Trials Museum in Germany.

Senior staff from the National Trust, British Museum, Tate Modern, Historic England, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Bletchley Park Trust and Culture Coventry have all taken part in previous editions of the programme.

Last year's MRL cohort © Museums and Resilient Leadership

“MRL helped me to become more resilient in many ways. It helped to build my personal confidence, extend my networks, fully understand my business, including the budget, visitor stats and space analysis, and focus on my values,” explained Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool and graduate of the programme.

“There is a lot of talk about resilience and income generation at the moment, but MRL made me realise that the most important thing isn’t what we do but why we do it,” she added.

The window for 2020-21 applications will close at 5pm on 31st January, with the programme set to commence in May.

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