The new training offer will aim to build on seven years’ work done by the New Museum School, established by arts diversity charity Culture&, which has already boosted the career progression of 134 young people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Of this number, around three quarters of all graduates have found full-time employment in the sector within six months of completing their studies. With a recent survey of graduates pointing to concern over a lack of hierarchal ascent, however, Culture& is keen to play an active role in ending practices which have seen the majority of its alumni remain in entry level roles.

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Working closely with its academic partner, the University of Leicester, the New Museum School is preparing to launch the Advanced Programme in 2021. Funding for the first two years has been awarded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

“Having listened to the experience of our alumni, we want to address the glass ceiling that they now face and this flagship collaboration with the University of Leicester will be the engine to propel forward the careers of our most gifted graduates who will be the future leaders in the heritage sector,” notes Dr Errol Francis, CEO of Culture&.

Support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the University, he adds, contributes to the “vital task of decolonising the museum workforce and its programmes”.

What is the New Museum School Advanced Programme?

Established to make positive changes in the career development of diverse arts and heritage leaders of the future, the course aims to:

  • nurture the brightest, most promising diverse talent for the arts and heritage workforce
  • allow professionals to continue full time employment within the arts and heritage sector whilst studying by providing access to distance, flexible and modular postgraduate qualifications
  • ensure an accessible recruitment process for learners from wide-ranging backgrounds
  • expand the expert knowledge of diverse arts and heritage professionals across a range of disciplines from museums studies, arts management and curatorial studies and across key aspects of professional practice by providing easy access to short courses and summer schools
  • support participants to advance their careers
  • build a self-sustaining peer network by brokering one to one mentoring and networking opportunities that are matched to individuals’ interests and career aspirations
  • increase professional accreditation for New Museum School alumni through opening routes to Associateship of the Museums Association
  • diversify the arts and heritage workforce
  • make real step changes in how heritage is interpreted and expand audiences by ensuring the perspectives of diverse professionals inform programmes that appeal to a wider cross section of people
  • change and improve the UK’s arts and heritage organisations in terms of workforce recruitment and retention of staff from diverse backgrounds

“Now, more than ever, our cultural organisations need to come together to combine experience, resources, energy and talent to commit to the work of building a sector in which talented individuals from diverse backgrounds can thrive and make change,” according to the University of Leicester’s Professor Richard Sandell, co-director of the Research Centre for Museum and Galleries.

“We are excited to work with Culture& and to invite sector partners to join us in addressing this challenge.”


Any organisation interested in joining this initiative can visit the Culture& website and complete an Expression of Interest Form. This will then need to be returned to [email protected] by Friday 29th January 2021.

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