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2018 ICOM UK AGM – register now

The 2018 ICOM UK AGM will take place 13:30 – 16:30 at the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) in London on Wednesday 26 September.

The relevant papers will be circulated to ICOM UK members one month in advance of the AGM.

Places are limited so book your free place now via Eventbrite: https://icomuk2018agm.eventbrite.com

You can read the agenda below or download it at http://uk.icom.museum/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018_ICOMUK_AGM_Agenda.pdf

13:30 – 13:45                    Arrival and registration

13:45 – 15:00                    AGM Business

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Minutes from 2017 AGM
  • Chair’s Report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Membership Report and Membership Survey
  • Travel Bursaries and Travel Grants
  • 2018 Committee Positions
  • Questions from members

15:00 – 15:40                    ICOM UK Members Soap Box

  • Series of 5-minute presentations by ICOM UK members highlighting international projects and partnerships followed by questions from members.

15:40 – 16:30                    Refreshments and Networking

16:30                                 Visit the Korean Cultural Centre UK’s latest exhibition, a solo show by South Korean artist Yunchul Kim.  The exhibition marks Kim’s nomination as ‘2018 Artist of the Year’, KCCUK’s major annual award programme.


We have 5 x 5-minute slots available in the Members Soap Box Session.  If you would like to highlight a current international project or partnership, make a call out for partners or advice, or share any other relevant international work with fellow ICOM UK members, this is how to apply:

  • Send us a proposal of 200 words or less, summarising what you would like to talk about and why it is relevant to ICOM UK members.
  • Deadline 09:00 Monday 10 September 2018
  • Send your proposals to Dana Andrew, ICOM UK Executive Director at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com


The 2018 ICOM UK AGM is generously hosted by the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK).  For more information on the KCCUK, or to receive their bi-weekly newsletter packed full of news related to Korean culture, visit their website www.kccuk.org.uk

Apply for an ICOM UK Travel Bursary to attend an international conference this autumn

ICOM UK members can apply for a Travel Bursary to attend relevant international conferences and meetings.  These can be ICOM international conferences or those of other organisations.

The next deadlines for applications are:

31 August 2018 

30 November 2018

Further information on eligibility and how to apply at http://uk.icom.museum/about-us/bursaries/travel-bursary-fund/

Members can apply for additional funding from the Camilla Boodle Fund to extend their stay to visit museums after the conference or meeting.  Further information on eligibility and how to apply at http://uk.icom.museum/about-us/bursaries/camilla-boodle-fund/

The ICOM UK website lists a number of relevant international conferences and events: http://uk.icom.museum/events/

The ICOM website lists all forthcoming ICOM International Committee Conferences and meetings: https://icom.museum/en/agenda/

Call for members to participate in Soap Box Session at ICOM UK AGM, 26 Sept, London

The ICOM UK 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place 13:30 – 16:30 on Wednesday 26 September 2018 at the Korean Cultural Centre UK in central London.

In addition to AGM business, there will be opportunities for members to network and share information about current and future international projects and partnerships.

We have 5 x 5-minute slots available in the Members Soap Box Session.  If you would like to highlight a current international project or partnership, make a call out for partners or advice, or share any other relevant international work with fellow ICOM UK members, this is how to apply:

  • Send us a proposal of 200 words or less, summarising what you would like to talk about and why it is relevant to ICOM UK members.
  • Deadline 09:00 Monday 10 September 2018
  • Send your proposals to Dana Andrew, ICOM UK Executive Director at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com

ICOM UK is seeking up to five new committee members

We are looking for up to five new ICOM UK Committee Members.  The Committee Members are Trustees and Directors of ICOM UK as a registered charitable company in the UK.  They oversee the development and delivery of the strategy to support UK museums working internationally, connecting members to the global museum community.

Prospective Committee Members need to have a demonstrable passion for international collaboration in the museum, gallery or heritage sector and an up to date Individual or Institutional ICOM UK membership.

The ICOM UK Committee is looking for skills, knowledge and experience in the following areas:

  • Preventative and emergency conservation planning in an international context
  • Digital communication and asset management (including web space and social media)
  • Marketing and communications
  • Charity governance, administration and law
  • Financial accounting, auditing, risk management
  • Language skills

ICOM UK wants to ensure the Committee reflects a diverse and inclusive sector, as such we welcome applications from people who identify as BAME and/or LGBTQ, people with a disability and those from varied socioeconomic backgrounds.  We also seek applications from students and early career professionals.

If you are interested in joining the ICOM UK Committee, please read the ICOM UK Committee Roles PDF, which you can download at: http://uk.icom.museum/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ICOMUK_Committee_Roles_2018.pdf

Application deadline: Friday 7 September 2018

If you would like an informal telephone conversation with Tonya Nelson, Chair of ICOM UK, prior to submitting an application, contact Dana Andrew (dana@cuello-andrew.co.uk) to arrange this.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) held Ministerial event on Soft Power

The Government announced its soft power strategy earlier in 2018 and it is set to be launched before the end of the year. Key professionals from culture and creative industries, digital and sport sectors, joined the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the GREAT Britain Campaign, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Culture Diary for a Ministerial event to announce the first stage of the forthcoming soft power strategy. Hosted by Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, he gave attendees 10 key questions to answer for feedback to incorporate into the strategy. Read the questions here.

If you have something to contribute, you may send your responses to soft.power@culture.gov.uk. The deadline for responses is Friday 14 September 2018 at midday (12pm).

Conrad Bird, Director of the GREAT Britain Campaign, also spoke about how the culture and creative sectors can join the GREAT campaign. Three top tips are:

1) Register for the Culture Diary and regularly upload events and stories.
2) Contact Anna Maloney with info on where you aspire to work internationally and your current international touring plans and collaborations.
3) Share your copyright-free imagery to be used for the GREAT asset library and be amplified via their social media channels.

Interview with Candice Allison, Director, Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa

Catherine McDermott, ICOM UK Committee Member, interviewed Candice Allison, Director of Bag Factory Artists’ Studios on a recent visit to Johannesburg, South Africa.


How are South African museums engaging with social justice and youth empowerment?

Museums in South Africa are working hard with diminishing year on year resources to offer affordable or free entry and educational events particularly for national holidays like Youth Day and Human Rights Day, but getting audiences interested is a challenge.

Spaces like the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios supplement the work museums do and are often the first point of contact that audiences have with art. We run an Inner City Kids Programme for less privileged schools and youth groups which include creative activities and visits to a local gallery or museum. In August we will be hosting two creative workshops at the University of Johannesburg Gallery, which will introduce the learners to Trans, a group exhibition featuring various artists who have been involved with the Bag Factory.

Because we can be more flexible and accessible to areas like Soweto, Mayfair, and Sophiatown, we bridge the gap between disadvantaged audiences and the museum, inspiring young people to find out more about their museums and return with family members who have never visited a museum. In recent years we have seen a surge of interest from young people concerned about whose heritage, and how that heritage, is being preserved. The more young people engage with arts and cultural organisations, the quicker museums will serve all demographics of South Africa, not just an elite few.


The Bag Factory Artist's Studios

The Bag Factory Artist’s Studios

Can you tell us about the mission of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios?

It was founded in 1991 by artist David Koloane and British businessman and art collector Sir Robert Loder, at a time when black artists were not permitted to study fine art at high school or university, and few black artists had exhibited in South African museums. For the first time, the Bag Factory offered all races the opportunity to work, participate in workshops, and exhibit together.

We offer 16 subsidised studio spaces to emerging and established artists, with two additional studios reserved for our international artist residency programme.  A programme of exhibitions, workshops, and events that take place in the gallery, and a curatorial development programme offers much-needed training and development for young curators.  A priority is to develop South Africa’s first international curatorial residency programme with the aim to establish partnerships between international curators and local artists.


How would you assess the impact of the Bag Factory?

Over two and a half decades The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios has launched and supported some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists including William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, David Koloane, Pat Mautloa and Sam Hlengethwa; hosted more than 200 international visiting artists; and offered space for many emerging curators to develop projects. We collaborate with museums at home and abroad and we have the advantage of flexibility. As a small, not for profit cultural organisation we have relatively low operational costs and a reflexive programme funded on a project by project basis.


Can you offer any examples of good practice of interest to UK museums?

Our experience is that communities that many museum professionals assumed were not interested in museums – are now voicing their thoughts about the exhibits that museums decide to show and not show. The wave of protests witnessed in recent years at exhibitions including works by artists such as Dana Schutz at the Whitney Biennial; Sam Durant at the Walker Art Center; Beezy Baily at the Barbican Art Gallery; and Kelley Walker at St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum illustrate that previously excluded audiences are demanding to be included with expectations that many museums find a challenge to adapt their programmes, interpretation methods, and audience outreach programmes to include these audiences in meaningful dialogue and debate. These mishaps shouldn’t discourage museums – rather, they should look to community arts organisations who have been successfully serving marginalised audiences for years.


Candice Allison is the newly appointed Director of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Johannesburg, South Africa. Previously, she was the curator at The New Church Museum in Cape Town. As an independent curator she has curated exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Iziko South African National Gallery, University of Stellenbosch Museum, and LKB/G in Hamburg. She curated Kudzanai Chiurai’s solo exhibition Madness and Civilization (2018) at Goodman Gallery Cape Town, which will travel to Kalmar konstmuseum, Sweden in October 2018; and Södertälje konsthall, Stockholm in 2019.

The views and opinions expressed in this interview are the author’s own.

Culture in Crisis event, 5 Sept 2018, V&A – Engaging Youth for the Preservation of Heritage in the Middle Ea

On Wednesday 5 September 2018, the V&A will host a FREE event – Culture in Crisis: Engaging Youth for the Preservation of Heritage in the Middle East.

Three organisations, each funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, discuss the challenges and breakthroughs of their work with young people across the Middle East to protect and preserve their threatened cultural heritage.

The event will look at the safeguarding of cultural festivals, traditional crafts and customs in Lebanon; the development of educational workshops for refugee children in Jordan; and the engagement of young people exploring the relationship between their cultural heritage, landscape and agriculture in the Occupied-Palestinian Territories.

The event is FREE to attend.  Book your place via the V&A website: https://www.vam.ac.uk/shop/whatson/index/view/id/8858

UK tops soft power list for 2018

Read the full article on the British Council website: https://www.britishcouncil.org/organisation/policy-insight-research/top-soft-power-2018

According to the comprehensive annual soft power index by Portland Communications, the UK is once again the leading soft power nation.

The UK reclaims the number one position in the league table that it originally held when the annual rankings began in 2015, having slipped to second place in the last two years. The authors acknowledge that the UK’s success may come as something of a surprise when British politics are apparently consumed by Brexit. But the fundamentals of the UK’s soft power remain strong. Education, culture, and international engagement are key strengths drawing people to look positively towards the UK.

The UK regained its number one status by pushing France down into second place. Germany comes in third, followed by the US (which has fallen from first in 2016). The rest of the top thirty is mostly dominated by European countries, along with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Japan ranks highly, in at number five, having risen steadily from eighth place in 2015. South Korea is the next Asian country, in twentieth place, followed by Singapore in twenty first. The only South American countries to make the top table, Brazil and Argentina, take the twenty ninth and thirtieth spots, with Brazil having fallen from twenty third place in 2015. China and Russia, with their different approaches to soft power, rank twenty seventh and twenty eighth respectively.

So do rankings like the Portland index, and the things that they set out to measure, really matter? The answer is yes. In an increasingly globalised, connected, multi-polar world, soft power – the ability to influence through attraction rather than coercion – clearly is important. And social media and instant global communications mean that even a country’s domestic policies and positions also have international implications for its soft power, and hence its prosperity and influence. And as power diffuses away from governments, the strength of the many non-governmental institutions which constitute a nation’s soft power becomes ever more important. In that sense, the UK result tells us much about soft power: it should be no surprise that the country, with its huge strengths in independent cultural and educational institutions, should continue to rank so highly on soft power, in spite of any uncertainty as a result of Brexit. Clearly these strengths are a matter of great importance to the UK as it seeks to reposition itself as a ‘global’ Britain.

Yet the importance of soft power goes further than that. The report argues that it is also vital for the maintenance of the rules-based international order, which it suggests is currently under threat from a combination of populist policies in some nations, shifts in American foreign policy, and the rise of new centres of global influence. The importance of soft power in this context stems from the way in which it alone can align values, norms, objectives, and ultimately behaviours in a world without a single dominant power. In that sense, argues Jonathon McClory (author of the report), soft power is the ‘glue’ which held together and expanded the rules-based system in recent decades. And only through soft power can a shared international vision and set of values to underpin that system in the future be supported – a process that can only be successful if it is a matter of mutual buy-in, rather than imposition or coercion. Indeed, independence and mutuality have long been identified as important features of soft power.

Indeed, it could be argued that the UK’s position in the Portland table is a vindication of a certain approach to soft power, manifested by the relative independence from government of its most important soft power institutions (the Portland report picks out the British Council and the BBC World Service for particular praise, as well as independent British art, music, film, fashion, and sport). This is a contrast to other, more state-controlled approaches to soft power.

Is the concept of soft power a western construct?

There are however countries that are globally very influential but which fail to make the Portland list. India is the outstanding example. A diverse, democratic, G20 economy that is taking an increasingly active and important role in the world, India’s absence from the chart feels like a real anomaly. Indian culture is globally in high demand, whether its Bollywood movies, yoga, cuisine, or Indian businesses, are major international players. India is increasingly important in the technology and innovation sectors, so why does it fail to make the grade? The example of India raises several questions:

  • Is the sampling used for Portland’s international survey in some way skewing results? For example, would India (and for that matter China) do better if the survey research included more states from Africa and fewer Western or Asian countries?
  • In picking the metrics to describe soft power, is something being missed, or are factors that favour Western states given undue prominence?
  • Is the concept of soft power a Western construct? Is it the Portland approach, or is it in fact the whole concept of soft power itself that is somehow biased in favour of Western models of what constitutes attractiveness?

Yet, imperfect as it must be, the Portland Soft Power 30 remains a valuable and important annual intervention in the debate on soft power that gets people thinking and talking about soft power and the essential role it plays in the success of nations. The UK’s position at the top of the table should be a source of pride but not complacency. As it heads towards Brexit, and with many of its in-built relative advantages likely to be eroded as other countries catch up, the UK must continue to invest in and build its soft power. Given the nature of the concept, and of the UK’s soft power in particular, this will be a matter for non-governmental organisations in sectors like culture and education as much as it is for politicians. When it comes to soft power at least, the UK is back on top of the world. It is in its clear interests do everything it can to stay there.

Creative Europe funding boosts UK culture

This article, written by Christy Romer, first appeared in ArtsProfessional online: https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/creative-europe-funding-boosts-uk-culture-research-finds?utm_source=Weekly-News&utm_medium=email&utm_content=nid-209021&utm_campaign=20th-July-2018


91 companies and organisations in the UK were supported by Creative Europe last year, receiving 10% of the scheme’s total funds.

Grants from Creative Europe, the EU’s cultural funding framework, are worth an average of €18.4m (£16.4m) a year to the cultural and audio-visual sectors in the UK, according to new research.

Reports published last week by Creative Europe find that 91 companies and organisations in the UK were supported through Creative Europe’s various strands last year, receiving a total of €16.6m – 10% of the scheme’s total funds.

Activities supported by Creative Europe include collaborative projects, platforms supporting the international promotion of new talent, literary translation, and the production and distribution of film.

Organisational growth is the most commonly cited benefit of funding, but the reports also find that participation encourages improved networking, a bigger international reach, and more developed digital capacities.

The research comes as the European Union (EU) is consulting on the future of its cultural funding scheme, and follows the UK’s publication of a wish list regarding its future relationship with the EU.

Europe-wide partnerships

Investment and support through Creative Europe are found to “significantly” boost capacity for successful organisations, which are often small. 82% of the beneficiaries consulted by Creative Europe said that their funding had been effective in growing their business or organisation, and the majority said they had developed better relationships with funders in the UK as a result of participation.

The fund also helps develop international links. 34 UK-based arts organisations were supported through Europe-wide partnership projects last year, with total funding of €3.2m. The report says that the UK is “one of the best-networked countries in Creative Europe”, with 734 partners across 34 countries in the fund’s culture sub-programme.

Secondary impacts

The reports also conclude that Creative Europe is a support mechanism that “goes well beyond monetary grants” with impacts including expanded access to audiences and improved skills.

Identifying the wider benefits of participation in the programme, particularly on innovation, skills and capacity, and social impact, was a key aim of the research.

The fund is credited with helping organisations become more resilient by boosting job creation, output and exports, resulting in additional investment. The report also says that the requirement for funded organisations to seek out match funding has “more than doubled” the funding received by UK organisations.

In addition, the report says that the programme has helped UK organisations:

  • Take risks and explore new business models
  • Boost market potential for UK practitioners, as participants across the world “benefit from the UK’s strength in R&D”
  • Access more opportunities for professional training
  • Develop local and international audiences
  • Support under-represented groups and provide opportunities for young people in disadvantaged groups.

Keith Hamilton, Finance Director of Fools Festival in Belfast – now part of a £200k cooperation project that connects the festival with street theatre organisations in Italy, Spain, Germany and Poland – told AP that participation in Creative Europe helps improve the quality and reputation of the organisation’s work.

“The project allows us to access higher-level training for our performers, so we need partners abroad. In Northern Ireland we’ve been isolated, in a sense, and street arts have been used as a way of filling our streets with people from all different communities.

“The European funding also shows the festival is not just local – it’s internationally renowned and connected to five nations.”

He continued: “We are quite worried about the impact of Brexit and how that could restrict the really strong relationships we’ve developed internationally.

“If we didn’t have access to this type of funding any more it would knock the heart out of you.”


This is the last time the annual data will be produced before the UK officially leaves the European Union in March 2019.

As such, the report’s authors urge the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Treasury, to take the findings into account “when considering the future of the UK’s participation in the Creative Europe programme, as part of a wider Brexit settlement for the UK”. A recent Government White Paper proposes ongoing participation in programmes such as Creative Europe.

The report’s timing also comes as the EU is consulting on the next iteration of the Creative Europe programme, which is due to close in 2020. Current proposals include a €400m increase in the budget (27%), which would take EU support for the cultural sector up to €1.9bn for 2021-27.

For this reason, the authors recommend further research on the impacts of Creative Europe. Similarly, they call for greater evaluation support and training to beneficiary organisations before their projects begin, to encourage better reporting on the impacts of any future programmes.

Save the Date: ICOM UK Annual General Meeting, Wed 26 Sept 2018, London

The 2018 ICOM UK Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place 13:30 – 16:30 on Wednesday 26 September 2018.  The Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) in central London in generously hosting the AGM.  http://london.korean-culture.org/en/welcome 

In addition to AGM business, we will have a Soap Box session where ICOM UK members will be invited to share quick presentations on international partnerships and projects they are working on.  We will also have refreshments and networking, and a chance to visit the latest exhibition at the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

An invitation with full details will be sent to ICOM UK members in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, save the date in your diaries!