The West Midlands MDOs arranged the event to reflect on what some of us have been doing over the last 18months towards becoming more sustainable and to discuss and share what the next steps could be.
Speakers ranged from the tiniest volunteer led project through community based eco-living experts to the region’s advisors for the leaders of the West Midlands.
As well as discussing the merits of the, MDO promoted, Green Museums Toolkit and the Green Business Tourism Scheme the audience heard many practical examples of how doing small things had great effects – both in terms of money saved and how these small changes also changed wider attitudes.
With such a great variety of museums in the region one sized solutions do not fit all; some are having to prioritise short term spend reductions, while others are investing in longer term changes of culture or beginning to invest in small scale energy generation.
Costs and duties
“Caring about the environment is a natural extension of museums’ primary role of stewardship of collections” David Martin, Museum Practice, 2006
As well as mooting practical ways MDOs can support change in the sector, other challenging ideas about museums’ public role were raised. Kari Gordon, independent consultant working with Warwickshire reminded us that 94% of people ‘trust’ museums and that, as trusted and ‘safe’ venues, we have an ethical role to be part of the shaping of the public view of sustainability. Just 2% of people respond well to science-based messages, she said, and here again museums, with their expertise in multi-layered learning and entertainment, can influence social change without falling into preaching.
Over the next few months, until the end of the current funding contract, the MDOs will be continuing to support projects which have already begun and work with those who wish to undertake the green audits and tourism awards. Supporting Sustainability is a major strand of work proposed to the Arts Council, once the results of funding bids are known it is hoped that WestMidlands MDOs will continue the dialogue with museums across the region around ‘the green agenda’.
In the meantime, the presentations from the day, report and evaluation as well as the Toolkits mentioned can be downloaded from this site here http://museumnetworkwarwickshire.wordpress.com/resources/green-resources-stuff/ (or follow the Green Resources Stuff link from the top menu on the home page)
For further information and support contact your own MDO
firstname.lastname@example.org (Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Black Country)
email@example.com (Warwickshie, Coventry and Solihull)