Leading the Sector – Digital Skills for Heritage

Leading the Sector is a professional development course in Digital Leadership for a cohort of 16 leaders from medium-to-large heritage organisations across the UK. It’s funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Digital Skills for Heritage and is led by Culture24.

Now more than ever before, CEOs, senior executives and trustees of heritage organisations need digital leadership skills. They need to be informed about the opportunities and challenges of digital in order to build resilient and successful heritage organisations. Leading the Sector provides the opportunity for leaders to focus on this critical strategic area – whatever their current understanding of digital leadership. 

The course began in May 2020 and ran until early 2021. Our first cohort of senior leaders is drawn from a wide range of heritage organisations working across the UK:

Blackburn Youth Zone


Culture Coventry

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust

Museum of East Anglian Life

National Museums Northern Ireland

National Museums Scotland

People’s History Museum

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

National Archives

The National Mining Museum, Scotland

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre

Wessex Archaeology

Wildlife Trusts Wales

Course outline

Leading the Sector gives leaders in heritage organisations a cohort-based opportunity to:

  • explore the characteristics of digitally literate leadership in a small, friendly community of like-minded peers
  • apply learning, with support, to build their organisations’ digital maturity and capacity
  • understand what ‘digital’ means in a heritage context and where most value lies for their teams, organisation, communities, wider audiences and the heritage they work with
  • build personal digital literacy, skills and understanding 

The cohort of 16 leaders is being taken through a collaborative learning process, over ten months, that balances strategic and practical guidance and includes: 

  • Four virtual and in-person workshops across 10 months 
  • A structured mentoring process, helping leaders to apply learning in their settings
  • Being part of a friendly, supportive group of peers all facing similar challenges
  • The support of a highly experienced and supportive team of expert coaches. 

The course combines strategic and practical guidance and is rooted in a range of approaches developed over the last three years to inform and support digital transformation in the cultural sector, including One by OneLet’s Get Real and the Digital Culture Compass.

The course is led by Anra Kennedy, Partnerships Director at Culture24, with partners Golant Innovation/The Audience Agency and specialist advisors including Professor Ross Parry, University of Leicester and Dr Nick Winterbotham.

Support and resources

On September 1st 2021 we will be launching a range of free resources and case studies drawn from the programme in a free online seminar, booking is open now.

In September 2020 Anra Kennedy wrote Developing digital leadership in heritage, a blog post reporting on the common challenges that Leading the Sector course participants were facing and the experiments they began carrying out to make meaningful change happen.

Our colleagues at The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, of which our course is only one strand, offer a range of other digital skills support and opportunities. We’d recommend you sign up to their newsletter (https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/email-updates) to keep informed.

Culture24 also publishes a sector skills newsletter which we’ll use, along with our sector-facing Twitter accounts (@Culture24 and @AnraKennedy) to share resources and opportunities.

Finally, Culture24’s Digital Pathways resource bank on digital skills for museums and heritage organisations is slowly building. We will be adding more over the coming months, with an immediate focus on remote working and communication. These three resources might be of particular interest to you:

A guide to digital leadership:

A CALM approach to leadership in the digital age

Two case studies on developing digital leadership within museums:

Museum of London’s adoption of new digital practices and processes

National Army Museum’s adoption of new digital practices and processes