Leading the Sector – Digital Skills for Heritage

Professional development in digital leadership for leaders of medium-to-large heritage organisations, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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Course outline | When and where | Who is it for? | How to apply | Who is delivering the course?  | PDF version of this page

Please note – applications for this course closed on March 16 2020.

Course outline

CEOs, senior executives and trustees of heritage organisations need digital leadership skills to steer thriving heritage organisations. Leaders need to be informed about the opportunities and challenges of digital if we are to build 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. 

This free professional development course, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, 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 up to 16 leaders will be taken through a collaborative learning process, over eight months, that balances strategic and practical guidance and includes: 

  • Two residential, two-day workshops
  • Two single-day workshops
  • 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 One, Let’s Get Real and the Digital Culture Compass.

The course is led by Culture24, with partners Golant Innovation/The Audience Agency and specialist advisors including Professor Ross Parry, University of Leicester and Dr Nick Winterbotham. Between us we have a wide range of cross-cutting skills, experience and knowledge of digital skills, literacies and capacity-building. 

Several guest experts drawn from within and beyond the heritage sector will also contribute to the course, bringing diverse and relatable perspectives and insights around their own digital leadership practice and development.   

More detail on the course leaders, partnership organisations and approaches underpinning the course is provided below. 

When, where and your time commitment

Between April 2020 and January 2021 our cohort will spend six days at workshops (dates below).

We’re looking for applicants who are already planning to spend at least 10% of their working time this year on capacity building and organisational transformation. Between workshops participants will need to dedicate time to implement learning from the course in their organisations, to connect with cohort peers, to reflect, to read, to discuss and to try things out. 

Don’t think of this as ‘extra’ time on top of a day job – our experienced team will support leaders in planning and trying out approaches that serve their organisation’s mission and purpose, align with current (and/or future) projects and most importantly, are realistic and achievable. This is about building digital leadership, not burdening people with ‘homework’ for the sake of it. 

The workshops are integral to the process so please note the dates. We can only accept applications from applicants who can commit to attend all four workshops

Workshop 1 (residential)Mid-morning 20 April to mid-afternoon 21 April 2020College Court, Leicester
Workshop 212 June 2020Venue tbc (depending upon cohort recruited)
Workshop 312 October 2020Venue tbc (depending upon cohort recruited)
Workshop 4 (residential)Mid-morning 1 December to mid-afternoon 2 December 2020College Court, Leicester

Please note that accommodation is provided free of charge at the two residential workshops but participants will need to arrange and pay for their own travel to and from all workshops.  

Who is it for?

This course is designed for up to 16 leaders – especially chief executives and senior executives  who report directly to chief executives. This course is aimed at the digital leadership needs of medium-to-large organisations, so we will only be accepting applications from leaders of heritage organisations with more than 10 contracted employees, based anywhere in the UK. 

If you are applying as a CEO or senior executive, you can also apply to attend with a trustee of your organisation. Because the course is quite operationally focused, we will not be accepting applications solely from trustees. 

This course is open to anyone with an interest in digital leadership: your organisation may already deliver sophisticated digital projects, or it may not. You personally may feel fairly digitally confident, or you may not. 

However, whilst we welcome people with some degree of digital experience, we will not be accepting applications from highly technical roles such as Directors of IT, Directors of Digital or other similar technical roles.

This programme is an unprecedented opportunity to create a community of senior heritage leaders, so we’re particularly keen to recruit people interested in genuinely making change happen within their organisations, their networks and ultimately across the wider heritage sector.

How to apply

Applications have now closed.

We will let all applicants know if they have been successful on or before 30 March 2020. 

If you have any questions about the course please feel free to contact Anra Kennedy, course leader on anra@culture24.org.uk.

Who is delivering the course?

This course is commissioned and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of ‘Digital Skills for Heritage,’ an advocacy initiative driving up digital capabilities across the heritage sector.

This cohort is being delivered by an expert team.

Culture24 is leading the course. We are a Brighton-based, independent charity that helps arts and heritage organisations connect meaningfully with audiences. We bring organisations together to do things they couldn’t do on their own, create shared opportunities and overcome shared problems together. More info at: https://weareculture24.org.uk

Culture24’s Partnerships Director, Anra Kennedy, is leading the programme with the support of Jane Finnis, CEO and Helen Lewandowski, Digital Programmes Coordinator. 

Our partners Golant Innovation/The Audience Agency are working with us to design and deliver all aspects of the course. Golant Innovation is an innovation agency working across the creative, digital, third and public sectors. Founded in 2005, it became the enterprise arm of The Audience Agency in 2018. More info at: https://www.theaudienceagency.org/golant-innovation 

Project colleagues include Patrick Towell, Innovation Director and Sophia Woodley, Design Manager at Golant Innovation and Katie Moffat, Head of Digital, The Audience Agency.

Our two project advisors will also be closely involved throughout the course, bringing invaluable insights and expertise. They are: 

Professor Ross Parry, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester and Principal Investigator, One by One.  More info at: https://le.ac.uk/museum-studies 

Dr Nick Winterbotham, North Wales-based consultant and Programme Director, Museums & Resilient Leadership. More info at: http://www.museumresilience.com 

In addition, several guest experts drawn from within and beyond the heritage sector will contribute to the course, bringing diverse and relatable perspectives and insights around their own digital leadership practice and development.  

Related initiatives informing the course

Our team members have all been closely involved in a range of heritage digital projects, leading several of them, and bring deep understanding of the latest thinking in this field.  These projects include:

One by One – a three-year Arts Humanities Research Council-funded collaborative project exploring and developing digital literacy in museums, led by University of Leicester. https://one-by-one.uk/ 

Let’s Get Real – an ongoing collaborative action research programme supporting arts and heritage people and organisations to become more relevant, resilient and responsive to digital cultural changes, led by Culture24. https://weareculture24.org.uk/lets-get-real/ 

Digital Culture Compass – an online toolkit to support arts, culture and heritage organisations to integrate digital technology into their work. It has two elements: a Charter that outlines digital best practices and a Tracker that allows organisations to assess their approach to digital technology and develop plans for future work. Developed by a consortium led by The Space. https://digitalculturecompass.org.uk

A Review of Resilience in the Heritage Sector – a targeted review of resilience across the UK heritage sector, again due to be published imminently. This included a review of the range of research and evidence available around the capacity-building needs of heritage organisations and gathered views of key stakeholders to contribute to the development of future policy. Carried out by Golant Innovation. 

Museums Resilient Leadership is a year long continuous professional development programme. Dr Winterbotham is one of the Directors. http://www.museumresilience.com/

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