Are museums doing enough to address the socio-economic diversity of their workforce? At the 2018 Museums Association conference in Belfast, I worked with other members of Museum as Muck to devise and produce an intervention asking conference delegates to examine their own class privilege, and ask themselves what they could do to further diversity agendas when it comes to class.
Supermuckers took the form of a supermarket or convenience store where each item on the shelves represented the barriers working class people face when entering the cultural sector, drawn from the real-life experiences of network members. We used these prompts to get people talking about class, which is often a hidden aspect of workforce diversity, especially when people who do make it into the middle-class world of museums feel pressure to code switch to fit in with the dominant culture. We also created a ‘jobs board’, using the measure of parental occupation to encourage people to think about their own class position in relation to social mobility and their path in museums. Finally, we asked participants to pledge an action, whether it was starting conversations at their own workplaces about class, donating to the wonderful Arts Emergency or, for those in positions of power in their organisations, addressing how they can break down socio-economic barriers through their hiring practices.
Museum as Muck is a network for working class people who identify as working class. Follow @MuseumAsMuck on twitter for updates. If you work or volunteer in museums and identify as working class, join the closed Facebook group.