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New Project 'Curating for Change' Launched

Curating for Change, tackling the underrepresentation of D/deaf and disabled people in our Museums, secures National Lottery funding.

Screen South, through its pioneering Accentuate Programme, has secured vital initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Curating for Change, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to change the way D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people are represented in Museums through a ground-breaking work placement programme for D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse curators.

Development funding of £116,400 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help Accentuate progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.  Curating for Change will work with 18 Museums across the country to deliver a programme of 18 Fellowships and Traineeships, resulting in an exciting range of exhibitions and events for the public. Curating for Change aims to create a sea change in the way disability history is represented in collections and in making exhibitions more accessible to a wider range of people.

A diverse range of Museums, from large Museums such as The National Railway Museum, part of the Science Museum Group, in York, to smaller rural museums such as those within Cumbria Museum Consortium and those with specialist collections such as the Thackray Museum of Medicine, will be taking part in the project.  The learning from the experience of hosting Fellowships and Traineeships will be shared right across the sector through new networks and conferences.

Accentuate creates landmark projects for D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people across the cultural sector and most recently delivered the highly acclaimed History of Place programme.  History of Place explored 800 years of D/deaf and disability history and worked with three museums to create exhibitions and displays sharing previously hidden histories.  This experience has shaped the ambition and plans for Curating for Change as it is clear D/deaf and disabled people continue to be largely underrepresented in our Museum collections and workforces.

During this development period, Accentuate will be consulting widely with a range of Museums, specialist networks and disabled people’s organisations, to get a deep understanding of how the project can bring about lasting positive change for both individuals and the Museum and Heritage sector.

Head of the Accentuate programme, Esther Fox, said:

“We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players. We know from our previous experience and speaking to our Museum partners, that Curating for Change is a much needed initiative.  There is a huge appetite within Museums to address the current underrepresentation of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people, but they are keen to have specialist support to inspire and support them to do so.  Accentuate knows that change is best when it comes from within organisations and we are passionate about supporting a whole new cohort of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse curators who will lead this process.”

Curating for Change will also explore a range of online tools during this development period, as many museums have been required to shut their doors due to the Covid 19 pandemic.  Most recently Accentuate, through the D4D project, has pioneered a partnership with Hastings Contemporary gallery to bring about telepresence robot tours. This sort of technology, as well as online conference tools, will be utilised. Many disabled people have been calling out for venues to consider how technology can be used to make spaces more accessible to them.  This has been brought sharply into focus now many people are also experiencing isolation and lack of access.  Curating for Change will consider the ways in which activities during the development phase of the project can utlise technology to be fully accessible, but also what the potential is for museums to adopt this longer term.

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