The first DHG meeting in the North West was part of the Supporting Practice in Participation project and would not have happened without the partnership and support of the North West Fed, Many thanks indeed!
The session attracted a brilliant mix of professionals including people from music and art festivals,academia, museums and art galleries.
In the introductions the group raised and discussed a number of issues affecting them cross sector including: the challenge of working in a mono culture; entrenched ideas and ideals; partnership – staff turnover, educational background. There were concerns raised that the national agenda on diversity appears to be disappearing and how to best continue to support it. There was also concern re funding shortages resulting in restrictions on diversity work. There was candid discussion about hard choices being made in organisations and skills shortages in diversity and equality. Lack of continuity with external partners due to restructuring was also raised as a challenge.
In smaller groups many of these areas were developed further including a discussion on recruitment practices with some interesting approaches from The Whitworth Art Gallery. There were some interesting ideas around making training go further Manchester Museum had created a small group model where one partner gets discounts for getting others along. We considered how DHG might support practitioners to share training highlights informally too – perhaps through a twitter feed, which could also be used to share supplier recommendations to save other organisations time and money.
Again in small groups there was a focus on the well-being agenda. It was noted that the adult learning budgets for well-being has transferred to the Skills Funding Agency and this is an opportunity for cultural organisations.
We heard about a great study ‘House of Memories’ a dementia training programme from NML how they developed a working relationship in a new sector.
The group tackled participatory practice in a workshop style the output of this activity was the sharing of one tip or piece of advice from each member, resulting in a long collective list of ideas and approaches for others to use.
Once thing that stood out about the North West group was the sheer enthusiasm and optimism despite the difficulties we face. We are very much looking forward to another visit and working further with the North West Fed.