Major grant for Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust to increase diversity and improve equality

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Three people looking at an item from the RPMT World Art Collection

From left Tshepo Skwambane, RPMT, Winani Thebele, National Museum of Botswana and Scobie Lekhutile, Khama III Memorial Museum Serowe, examine the Botswana collection at RPMT. Part of our Making African Connections project.

July 2021

For immediate release

The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust has formed an exciting new partnership with the James Henry Green Trust to increase diversity and improve equality in the organisation.

RPMT will receive the major grant of £390,000 from the James Henry Green Trust (JHGT) for the three-year Culture Change RPMT project.

The project commits the organisation to be a more socially engaged and progressive museum service building on work it has already begun with its World Art Collections.

A year after the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter campaign, the Trust aims to improve access to the museum to different communities, increase diversity within the workforce and use items in our collections from around the world to tell new stories with different voices.

CEO of RPMT Hedley Swain said: “Our new project Culture Change RPMT is an important opportunity at a key moment in our history to ensure we are equitable and socially engaged in everything we do and that we are truly working with and listening to all voices from the different communities we are here to serve. Following the BLM movement, we have been keen to take a long look at our organisation and challenge how we work.

“Our organisation stood in solidarity with the BLM campaigns following the death of George Floyd and we issued a statement which promised to make changes to RPMT and to how we tell the histories of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“In the past, working collaboratively with a range of partners and communities has been undertaken on a project-by-project basis, by different departments and individuals. Culture Change RPMT will, for the first time, draw together all our staff, our buildings and collections, our resources, our communities and strategic partners to promote holistic organisational change.

“In some cases this process will be difficult but we are completely committed to its delivery. We are incredibly grateful to the James Henry Green Trust and its trustees for supporting us in this way. It would be very difficult to undertake this work without them in partnership.”

Chair of the James Henry Green Trust Professor Michael Hitchcock said: “We fully support the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust in its laudable aims and objectives and have long held the view that Brighton Museum and Art Gallery has been a leader in creating change in the UK’s museum sector through its engagement with different cultures at home and abroad.

“The museum has a reputation for innovation and creativity and it is a great pleasure to be able to support this latest endeavour.”

At the core of the work will be the World Art Collections.  This collection contains more than 13,000 objects from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas and has been designated as a collection of national importance by Arts Council England.

The project has a series of aims which include:

  • the appointment of two new members of staff – a Diversity Manager and Additional Collections Curator.
  • the creation of a Culture Change RPMT oversight group to provide scrutiny and accountability.
  • undertaking a programme of organisation-wide training.
  • research  to connect with individuals, organisations, community groups and schools.
  • the forming of a Culture Change RPMT Staff Working Group.
  • research into the histories of our buildings and collections so that we can reflect on their legacies.
  • a review of interpretation labels and panels, as well as objects on display in our venues.
  • a review of policies and practices to ensure they reflect the RPMT commitment to an anti-racist and socially-just ethos.

The James Henry Green Trust are also considering an additional investment to contribute to the redevelopment of the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery building on the results of the Culture Change RPMT programme.

About Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust

RPMT is a charitable trust responsible for the management of the Royal Pavilion & Museum service in Brighton & Hove.

Formed in October 2020, the RPMT protects and preserves the venues and collections in the service while offering a vibrant and fascinating service to visitors from around the world.

The Trust is funded by Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charitable organisations and from public donations as well as income from admissions.

RPMT oversees the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Preston Manor, Hove Museum & Art Gallery and the Booth Museum of Natural History.

RPMT offers a wide range of exhibitions, displays and events through the year covering history, art and culture to appeal to all visitors.

About the World Art Collections

The World Art collection contains more than 13,000 objects from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas.

Many of these items were collected by British people in the period 1860-1940. Some of these people were travellers, some were missionaries; many were involved in some way in Britain’s colonial activities. For this reason, much of the World Art collection reflects places where Britain had a colonial presence, for example India and West Africa.

The World Art collection has been designated as a collection of national importance by Arts Council England.

The collection spans many time periods, from prehistory to the present day. It includes many kinds of objects: masks, sculpture, textiles, domestic tools, agricultural tools, hunting and fishing implements, religious artefacts and more.

Find out more about some of the work we have been doing recently on our blog Making African Connections.

About James Henry Green Trust

In 1992 James Henry Green’s collection of 1,600 photographs and over 200 textiles ‘…was given on long loan to Brighton Museum, with an annual endowment for its research and development; the intention was that over time it would form the core of a substantial body of research and extended collection’.

Since then, the trust has supported publications on the work of Green and provided scholarships for students, both British and Burmese, working on Burmese art and helped to fund displays and exhibitions on Burmese ethnography within the wider context of World Art.

Contact information for press and media

For further information, images or interviews please contact Caroline Sutton on caroline.sutton@rpmt.org.uk or 07802 542 867.

For urgent enquiries in my absence please contact marketing@rpmt.org.uk or 03000 290906.