What was it about?
In January we were delighted to learn that Helen had gained a place on the Mindsets + Missions Learning Programme as an individual representing a community organisation- Wolves Play Cafe!
Mindsets + Missions is a new learning and grants programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation, which supports museums and science centres to engage underrepresented groups with knowledge, research and innovation.
The whole team were excited to have the opportunity to engage with larger organisations including museums and science centres from across the U.K.
What did it involve?
The programme was well-facilitated, beginning with an in-person programme launch day in Leeds. During the day we worked in groups with activities and discussions to find common ground, common goals and common challenges to our goals. The activities included a range of practical and participatory tasks, one of which took us outside for half an hour in the snowy blast that crossed the UK in early March!
Back inside...all dry and warm!...the discussions were in groups small enough to allow everyone the chance to have a voice in the conversations. It was so encouraging to be working alongside people from larger organisations that found similar challenges and barriers to achieving their goals as smaller organisations. We found that we shared similar aims and goals in the desire to help ensure museums, science centres and research projects of the future to be relevant, important to and accessible to the widest possible audiences.
The next week, and for three weeks, the programme was taken online with twice weekly 90 minute sessions. Each session included a presentation by people who had developed innovative and successful ways to engage, encourage and truly listen to their present and new audiences not only in the U.K. but from right across the World. These were fascinating and informative presentations, inspiring ideas for the programme participants’ discussions which followed each presentation.
The conversations carried on after the sessions through a specially devised digital platform where all the participants were invited to share their good practices, relevant information and areas of expertise.
What happens next?
Towards the end of the month-long programme innovative ideas, new networks and partnerships were beginning to evolve and the members of the cohort were invited to apply for funding of up to £75k to deliver projects for the second phase of the programme.
The projects can be as innovative, ground-breaking and experimental as participants’ ideas, dreams and ambitions allow, exploring new ways of bringing science, research and community engagement in these areas to the widest possible audiences, especially those from under-represented groups across the whole of the U.K.
As this is the pilot programme to developing new approaches to traditional research pathways, at present Wolves Play Café are not planning to apply to lead a project for the next phase of the programme, but as a trailblazing start, we hope that by being part of these new networks we can take part in future projects as leaders and/or participants. We also plan to use the ideas, inspiration and information gained by taking part in the pilot programme to enhance our own approaches to audience collaboration, engagement and gathering the views of individual voices to improve our own practice and offers.
Who are UK Research and Innovation?
Mindsets + Missions is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It is a key part of UKRI’s mission to break down the barriers between research, innovation and society. UKRI is providing a total of £750k for this programme, delivered by a partnership of the Museums Association, The Liminal Space and the Association for Science and Discovery Centres.