Update from the WA Collections Sector Working Group – The journey so far and the next steps

by | Jun 18, 2017 | CSWG, GLAM

What is the WACSWG? 

The Collections Sector Working Group (CSWG) held its first meeting on 19 July 2016.  The purpose of the Working Group is to respond to a series of structural and funding changes in the collections sector and consider how to meet the highest strategic priorities of the sector.  

Who is it?

The CSWG comprises membership from the WA Museum, State Library of WA, Art Gallery of WA, State Records Office, National Trust WA, Australian Society of Archivists, Museums and Galleries Australia WA, Art on the Move, Australian Library and Information Association and the WA Local Government Association, and represents all four collecting domains.
It is chaired by Alec Coles, CEO of the WA Museum at the request of the Director General of the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA).  Key management support is provided by Roz Lipscombe of the DCA.

What is it doing?

As a result of extensive consultation across all four collecting domains, the CSWG has identified three strategic priorities for development and for which it will seek support.  Not surprisingly, all three are interrelated.
Alec Coles, CEO, WA Museum, presenting to the WA State Heritage & History Conference 2017

Three Strategic Priorities

1. Digital platform for the collections sector

The need for a searchable digital platform for all WA collections is widely recognised and acknowledged: making collections discoverable, integrating information about our wider collections sector and its resources and making it more possible to share stories of local, state and national significance.  
The majority of WA collecting organisations have a substantial proportion of their collection manually catalogued or in an electronic database.  However, very few Western Australian collections are discoverable online and few community based collecting organisations have the means to run their own online database.
The CSWG has considered a range of digital platform options and made a unanimous decision in April to seek resources to adopt and roll out the Victorian developed Victorian Collections platform.  This will be re-purposed and re-branded as Australian Collections in Western Australia.  
A resource requirement assessment is underway to get the program underway.

2. Skills Development

The collections sector requires skills development for existing and new practitioners.  The highest priority is considered to be a program of flexible modules to deliver comprehensive basic skills, to complement existing tertiary training opportunities within WA, interstate and online.  The modules should have the potential to be delivered regionally.
Art On The Move (AOTM) and Museums Galleries WA (MGAWA) are partnering to deliver an integrated pilot training program in interpretation and exhibition development, which is aimed at being relevant to all four collecting domains.  This will be delivered in outer metropolitan and regional Western Australia, and made available online for everyone to access.  This project will get underway in the second half of 2017, with funding from the Department of Culture and the Arts.
The Western Australian Museum, with financial support from the DCA, is developing a series of instructional videos, which provide simple and practical information on a variety of collection care and conservation topics. 
These will be available from the beginning of July.
In addition, the collection conservation ‘bible’ Conservation and Care of Collections edited by David Gilroy and Ian Godfrey is being updated, expanded and made available on line. 
Pauline Joseph form Curtin University and the Society of Archivists is working with WA Museum staff to investigate the possibility of developing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) based on this and related content.

3. Audience Engagement

The intention of this strategy is to facilitate the development of links with new audiences to collections and to ensure that more people can access the rich resources available in their own community and other communities.  This strategy would build capacity to develop audiences in a small number of regions and organisations.
The CSWG has developed a coherent project model to deliver this strategy and is currently seeking funding to progress it.  Unfortunately an application to the Catalyst Fund was unsuccessful so alternative sources are under consideration.

What happens next?

CSWG members and consultees clearly articulated the need for greater communication across collecting domains to share information and opportunities more widely.

All members have committed to circulating their publications across the group and to be conscious of the broader collections sector in developing new initiatives.

As progress on the strategies is made, the CSWG members will circulate updates to their respective networks.

Slide deck as presented to the WA State Heritage & History Conference 2017 on May 11, 2017


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