2020 Working Internationally Conference

2020 Working Internationally Conference: Can Museums and Galleries Save UK Diplomacy? Soft Power in Turbulent Times

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The UK lost its #1 ranking in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. Why? Brexit and the internal turbulence that has dominated headlines and shifted time and energy away from international diplomacy. According to the authors of the index, the UK clung to the #2 spot due to its high performance in the ‘engagement, culture, education, and digital’ categories, which made up for a lacklustre performance in the government and enterprise categories.

As Brexit rumbles on, the 2020 Working Internationally conference will examine the role museums and galleries can play in supporting UK soft power. The 2017 report Britain’s Global Future: Harnessing the soft power capital of UK institutions made a powerful case for the role of museums in promoting the nation’s cultural values and contributing to its economy. Recognizing the international significance of culture, the Mendoza Review looked at how museums might support soft power and the British Council published research in 2018 that showed that what people love about a country are not products of governments but of people and institutions like museums.

The conference will examine the variety of ways in which museums and galleries create and influence soft power. We will hear from a range of representatives from museums and galleries, government agencies and NGOs to understand the interplay between policy, business and culture in the shaping of diplomacy. The conference will also explore the relationship between soft power and museum sector issues such as decolonization and digital engagement.

The Working Internationally Conference is organised by ICOM UK and NMDC with support from the British Council.

We will continue to update the programme as speakers are confirmed over the coming weeks.

10:30 – 11:00 Registration, refreshments, networking
11:00 – 11:10 Welcome and Introduction
11:10 – 11:55 Session 1: Setting the Scene
Session Chair: Kathryn Simpson, NMDC
Helen Jones, Director of Global Engagement and Strategy, Science Museum Group (SMG)
11:55 – 12:40 Session 2: Restitution and Decolonisation through the lens of soft power
Tonya Nelson, Chair of ICOM UK in conversation with Terry Simiote Nyambe, Assistant Curator of Ichthyology, Livingstone Museum, Zambia and ICOM Executive Board.
12:40 – 13:55 Lunch and networking
13:25 – 13:55 ICOM UK Annual General Meeting
13:55 – 14:35 Session 3: Digital soft power
Session Chair: Arran Rees, ICOM UK
14:35 – 15:15 Session 4: Soft power in the next decade
Session Chair: Catherine McDermott, ICOM UK
Nick Marchand, Head of International, V&A
Paul Brummel, Head of Soft Power and External Affairs Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
15:15 – 15:35 Break, refreshments, networking
15:35 – 16:10 Session 5: Soft power in action
16:10 – 16:40 Session 6: Where do we go from here?
Session Chair and Speakers as per Session 1.
16:40 – 16:45 Thank you and close of conference