Irish Museums Association publishes Strategic Plan 2018-2021 (Development)

Posted: Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Irish Museums Association (IMA) has published its Strategic Plan 2018-2021, which will frame the vision and direction of the Association over the next three years and will be complemented by annual implementation plans.

The Strategic Plan 2018-2021 builds on the success of previous strategies and reflects the changing environment of the museum landscape. It clarifies the association's mission, vision and values while outlining a series of aims that will advocate for our members and strengthen the museum sector in Ireland.

As evidenced by the all-Ireland Survey of Irish Museums 2016, we have seen tremendous progress in how our museums function and engage with the communities they serve. The coming years will bring further significant developments as there is an increased emphasis on museums to demonstrate their value to society.

In a period of almost unprecedented and rapid change - socially, technologically, politically and culturally - museums are adapting to meet the requirements of the modern world. The remit of the museum is becoming broader and we are seeing increased demand for leadership and intellectual rigor in a landscape where these values are being questioned. It has become necessary for museums to redefine their remits, their functions, and their strategies. Inclusivity, diversity, civic responsibility, participation; these are all principles that are at the forefront of contemporary museum practice and which museums are guided by. Museums are valued as places of inspiration and of knowledge. They mirror society and become instruments of change, development and of progress. They use their place as ‘safe spaces for unsafe dialogue' to become institutions that foster social cohesion and peace.

However, our museums can sometimes struggle to maintain a strategic perspective when faced with day-to-day operational and financial challenges. While the economic climate has improved in recent years, many museums across Ireland are still facing straitened circumstances, placing their collections and programmes at risk. This brings with it necessary discussions around access, storage, sustainable collecting, staff capacity, ethics, and maintaining our research and knowledge base. The IMA welcomes the Creative Ireland programme and forthcoming publication by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht of Culture 2025 and the Heritage Council's National Heritage Plan in 2018. These key policy documents will provide the groundwork for the development of a museums policy for the Republic of Ireland, to complement the Northern Ireland Museums Policy and to further assist the growth and development of the museum sector.

We believe in the positive impact of museums on society, providing a place for learning, contemplation and discourse and their contribution to a healthy society. The success of Ireland 2016 is testimony to the vibrancy and creativity of our sector but we perhaps have not been as successful as other sectors in promoting our worth. As we enter the latter years of the Decade of Centenaries and the potential impact of the exit of Northern Ireland from the European Union, the challenge remains to become more successful advocates for the strength of museums in presenting our shared history and identity while fostering the effective cultural links that currently exist. It is in this uncertain climate that we have framed the vision and direction of the Association for the next three years.

The Strategic Plan 2018-2021 intends to strengthen the association's role as an independent key player in the cultural sector in Ireland. It commits the association to providing equal benefits to museums across the Island, ensuring the breadth and range of museums and museum practice is represented within and by the association.

Additionally, it commits the association to continue to promote the exchange of knowledge and support through collaborative practice, and enable the debate of current issues. It aims to inform and promote dialogue with stakeholders on current museum practice and developments, and enhance engagement with these.

The Strategic Plan 2018-2021 is informed by our members and the numerous collection-based organisations we collaborate with across Ireland - ranging from small community-led centres to National Cultural Institutions. It intends to meet the needs of these stakeholders, supporting and promoting the value of museums to society. It will provide guidance to the association, our members and the wider community of the priorities for the museum sector. It will be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is a ‘living' document and updated as necessary throughout the period it covers.

The success of the Strategic Plan 2018 - 2021 will be determined by the investment of our members and wider stakeholders who support the programme and activities of the Irish Museums Association.

The Strategic Plan 2018-2021 was circulated for consultation and open submissions were invited during the period September - November 2017.

Click here to download this publication.