At the end of July, the longest-standing member of the SHARE team, Simon Floyd, left to pursue his great passion; the theatre. Simon was a mainstay of SHARE from 2009. He played a key role in developing the now well-established SHARE ethos, whereby all contributions are freely offered and equally valued. This has enabled SHARE to nurture a Museum Development programme second-to-none. He was also the inspiration behind the famous owl logo!
Before he left, Simon wrote a short piece on the ethos and achievements of SHARE:
“The SHARE Museum Development Programme has proved that skills-sharing can benefit museums of every size. We work hard to incorporate offers of expertise and resources from museums of all different types. Bishops Stortford museum offered their collections photography expertise, which evolved into a highly successful training course; the National Horse Racing Museum ran a course in business skills; and our networks continue to grow and develop with the goodwill of museum-based coordinators – especially in learning, heritage engineering and costume & textiles. The networks have contributed not only to their own knowledge but to that of the wider museums sector. The deliberate informality of SHARE has been a strength, helping us to deliver successful partnerships involving the biggest museums (including the British Museum) to the smallest volunteer-run organisation.
“SHARE has not only been busy, it’s been cost-effective. By looking for the support we need in our own backyard we have rarely had to pay for trainers, external facilitators or venues. With central coordination and a real willingness from participating museums, SHARE has proved that a lot can be done for not very much.
“Museums across the region now recognise the benefits of offering SHARE support to their own organisations. They see that by sharing time, skills and expertise, staff and volunteers can develop their practice and knowledge. By contributing to the development of others they learn to value both their own contribution and that of their museum.
“We value all contributions equally – experience, knowledge, resources, even attendance at an event. In challenging times it takes a leap of faith to believe this, but the principle survives: it’s good to share, and everybody is stronger for it.
“Here are a few of the things we’ve learned along the way:
- To give is to receive – if there is not a win for the contributor, it’s not SHARE.
- Making and maintaining relationships takes most of the energy, but it is the most important thing.
- Get people with similar interests together and, if you help them with small amounts of money and central support, good things will always happen.
- Trust the instincts of those who do the job, and be ready to take risks.
- Be collaborative and listen – try to meet needs with practical solutions.
- Stay informal, people are much more comfortable talking about their ‘experience’ than their ‘expertise’.
- Find a brand that unites people behind an idea – our owl and strapline (‘a network of know how’) work because they are inclusive, simple and encourage participation.
“One thing is certain – we all have something to give and something to gain. Long may we explore what this wealth of knowledge and experience enables us to do.”