End-of-Year Update on MGA’s Strategic Review from the National President

The strategic review of our organisation started in June this year, when the newly-elected National Council met, following the national conference. We formed a taskforce of six councillors and the national director and put in train a program of meetings, consultations, workshops and an online membership survey. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions so far. We are gathering data about what you think our future may look like. Preliminary results of this work were discussed at the November National Council meeting in Melbourne.

The online membership survey reveals that there is a lot of agreement about the top priorities that MGA should be focusing on in 2018. For Individual Members, the top three priorities were

  • Increase advocacy for museums and galleries
  • Deliver a larger range of training and skills development via different channels
  • Make the national conferences more accessible

For Organisational Members, the top three priorities were very similar

  • Increase advocacy for museums and galleries
  • Deliver a larger range of training and skills development via different channels
  • Provide more advice on funding and other opportunities

We are thinking about how these priorities and other information we have gathered will shape the new corporate strategic plan. This will likely have five Focus Areas, which I’ve listed below, along with an example of current or potential future work. This is just the beginning.

However, as we develop the new, longer-term corporate strategic plan for 2018-2020, we are also moving quickly, where we can, on responding to members’ needs. The organisational budget for 2018 is deliberately investing in increased training opportunities and skills development programs, and more support for participating in the national conference. National Council has approved the judicious use of some retained earnings by branches and networks to fund these activities.

Focus Areas

One: Members & Services: eg developing a framework for a national professional development program that enables greater sharing and accessibility nation-wide; providing more financial support for attendance at conferences.

Two: Representation & Advocacy: eg increasing State and Territory branch representation to government; making representation to the Federal Government such as in our submission on the Federal Government’s Digital Economy Strategy, November  2017 https://www.museumsaustralia.org.au/news/digital-economy-opening-conversation; developing a joint advocacy plan with ICOM Australia that draws on international standards and expectations.

Three: Finance & Operations: eg improving the website and adding more advice on resources and opportunities to enable greater use by members, networks and branches; developing a national Philanthropy Strategy.

Four: Leadership, Principles & Guidance: eg completing and supporting the implementation of the Indigenous Roadmap project https://www.mgaindigenousroadmap.com.au/; reviewing policies and updating reference materials such as Collections Law and Museum Methods.

Five: Collaboration: eg strengthening GLAM Peak and managing its program of digital access to collections workshops across the country; developing a proposal for a joint campaign with other sector bodies on the public value of museums and galleries.

As part of the strategic review, we have also received a lot of comments about the current name, corporate identity and branding. Most members have strongly endorsed including “galleries” in our name, to reflect the inclusive nature of the association. However, variations on our interim name are still to be examined and discussed. We have also been advised of specific concerns about confusion of identity from other sector bodies and member organisations.

The taskforce is reflecting upon all the concerns, comments and suggestions made during the review process. The intent around the name is to remove confusion, not add to it, and certainly not cause any organisation in any part of the country distress or financial impost.

The second stage of the strategic review will take place from January to May next year. We will focus more sharply on the data we have and would greatly welcome your further thoughts and suggestions. The results of the research and our discussions will inform the new corporate strategic plan, refining the association’s name and the priorities for 2018-20. All these will be circulated in May, and presented and discussed at the Members’ Forum at the national conference at the beginning of June. I look forward to continuing this necessary process of consultation and renewal.

I would like to thank the National Council, and Alex and her team, who are working hard to continually improve our organisation. The State and Territory Branches have been very responsive and are motivated to serve us all well and they deserve special thanks.   

The festive season is upon us and Australians take a break. I am mindful of the fact that for many of our members this represents a very busy time of the year, as people flock to museums and galleries across the nation to explore and be delighted with what we have to offer. Our thoughts are with you.

All the best to all our members, and I look forward to working with you in 2018.

Dr Robin Hirst PSM
National President, Museums Galleries Australia


Photo: National Council members and executive staff. L-R: Rebecca Coronel, Janet Carding, Michelle Stevenson, Suzanne Davies, Soula Veyradier, Laura Miles, Mark Crees, Padraic Fisher, Ilka Schacht, Carol Cartwright, Paul Bowers, Alex Marsden, Robin Hirst, Alec Coles, Margaret Lovell, Debbie Sommers, Craig Middleton, Louise Douglas, Mirna Heruc, Lee Scott, Rebecca Pinchin, Andrew Simpson, Lynda Kelly, Simon Elliott.

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