Unlocking change



Culture& works in partnership with arts and heritage organisations to develop programmes that promote diversity by opening up the UK arts and heritage sectors to new talent and audiences – particularly people with experience of systemic injustice.

If it wasn’t for this award I would not be doing this Masters, and I am very grateful for it. I think it has been beneficial for me to start the Masters relatively soon after my BA, so that returning to studying didn’t feel too difficult, which has been reflected in my strong results in the assignments so far. Having the opportunity to be a part of the Culture& cohort is amazing. A highlight throughout my studies has definitely been attending the symposium. It felt really empowering to be in a room with others working in museums and galleries who are committed to changing the sector for the better. I am excited to pair up with one of the cultural partners for the Project in Practice - these connections would not be possible without being a part of the Culture& cohort.

New Museum School Advanced Programme Student

An early pioneer of multicultural arts practice and world music, Culture& rebranded in 2016 to refocus their work more clearly on workforce development and public programmes such as their New Museum School, which provided flexible training to young people from diverse backgrounds.

As well as opening up access to careers in the arts and heritage sectors, Culture& work to understand and address the specific barriers to career progression that many people with experience of racial inequity, and people who are economically disadvantaged face. Building on their experience, they launched the New Museum School Advanced Programme in partnership with the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies in 2021. As well as offering a gold-standard postgraduate offer, it also aims to harness the arts and heritage sector in driving a movement of inclusive transformation.

The partnership with Culture& and the support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has enabled us to make a step change in Research Centre for Museums and Galleries' (RCMG) ongoing efforts to transform the sector. The unique collaboration brings together the leading-edge expertise and insights of Culture& and RCMG with a group of highly engaged and talented future leaders and a suite of museums that share an active commitment to foster and be part of wider inclusive transformation. With some 20+ cultural partners committed to change and a highly skilled and committed new generation of socially engaged culture professionals, the New Museum School Advanced Programme is already evidencing its potential to drive and embed wider ethical change in the sector.

Professor Suzanne MacLeod and Professor Richard Sandell, Co-Directors, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester

Connection to Esmée's strategy

Long-term outcomes
  • A representative cultural workforce.
  • A new and diverse generation of cultural leaders are equipped to influence the world around them.

Culture& has an impressive track record, with 80% of their trainees securing full-time employment in the arts and heritage sector within 6 months. However, many still struggle to progress and get stuck in junior to middle management positions. We funded Culture& to address this ‘glass ceiling’ in career progression for people with experience of racial inequity or economic disadvantage; an issue caused by a combination of inaccessible advanced qualifications and discriminatory recruitment practices within the sector.

Will Steadman, Funding Manager, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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