Annual General Meeting 2015

26th October 2015, 12.30-13.00, British Museum

Apologies

Johanna, Michael, Danny, Marianne

Minutes of the last AGM

Minutes

Natural History Museum, 7 November 2014

Mia proposed they be accepted and Dafydd seconded.

Committee Reports

Chair’s Report (Mia)

Chair’s Welcome

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who helped make today happen, and by asking the MCG Committee Members [link] who are here today to stand up, so that you can chat to them, ideally even thank them, during the day. For those who don’t know us, the Museums Computer Group is a practitioner-lead group who work to connect, support and inspire anyone working in museum technology. (There are lots of ways to get involved – we’re electing new committee members at our AGM at lunchtime, and we will also be asking for people to host next year’s event at their museum or help organise a regional event.)

I’d particularly like to thank Ina and Jen, who coordinated the event, and the Programme Committee members who reviewed presentation proposals sent in.

And of course I’d like to thank the speakers and session chairs, the British Museum, Matt Caines at the Guardian, and in advance I’d like to thank all the tweets, bloggers and photographers who’ll help spread this event beyond the walls of this room.

Which brings me to the theme of the event, ‘Bridging Gaps, Making Connections’. We’ve been running UK Museums on the Web since 2001; last year our theme was ‘museums beyond the web’ in recognition that barriers between ‘web teams’ and ‘web projects’ and the rest of the organisation were breaking down. But it’s also apparent that the gap between tiny, small, and even medium-sized museums and the largest, best-funded museums meant that digital expertise and knowledge had not reached the entire sector. The cuts and burnout mean that old museum hands have left, and some who replace them need time to translate their experience in other sectors into museums. Our critics and audiences are confused about what to expect, and museums are simultaneously criticised for investing too much in technologies that disrupt the traditional gallery and for being ‘dull and dusty’. Work is duplicated across museums, libraries, archives and other cultural organisations; academic and commercial projects sometimes seem to ignore the wealth of experience in the sector.

So today is about bridging those gaps, and about making new connections. (I’ve made my own steps by joining the British Library.) We have a fabulous line-up representing the wealth and diversity of experience in museum technologies.
Take lots of notes to share with your colleagues. Use your time here to find people to collaborate with. Tweet widely. Let people with questions know they can post them on the MCG discussion list and connect with thousands of people working with museums and technology. Now, more than ever, an event like this isn’t about technology; it’s about connecting and inspiring people.

AGM Chair’s report

The MCG’s goal is to act at many levels of the sector in order to connect, support and inspire our members. We often focus on events, but we’re also working to strengthen connections at more senior levels, with funders and decision makers, and with other museum organisations.

However, this was another challenging year, with committee members very pushed between work and personal commitments to find time for projects outside of our two main events. Moving to Association CIO status (discussed later) is a good prompt to consider how we work – perhaps we should look to involve others in projects and in organising events, without asking them to take on a three year commitment.

Last year’s survey and other conversations show that there’s a need for ‘more training opportunities and support for all aspects of technology in museums’. We know there’s a need for more specialised training and professional development (from responses to the survey we ran after UKMW14, discussions on the MCG list and other feedback), but we are not resourced to deliver it, and struggle to find time even to advise on it. (e.g. writing successful tenders)

All that said, we have made significant steps in creating relationships with other organisations. I met with Tony Harris and Jane Knowles, the chairs of AHFAP, the UK museum photography group, and the UK Registrars Group, to compare notes on running museum groups. We experimented with running a ‘digital surgery’ at the Association of Independent Museums conference, and learnt a lot about the complexities of making decisions about digital projects in small museums. We’ve also been talking to the Army Museums and Arts Council England. If you’d like to help with any of this, please get in touch.

As you’ll hear, we organised two very successful events last year. Our events usually reach 200-300 people a year, although a lot more through tweets and blog posts; social media accounts reach a couple of thousand. Our events are generally very positively evaluated, and they are valuable in themselves, but with so many events these days, and almost every museum conference at least acknowledging the impact of digital technologies (even if they are still learning how to cope with it), we always have to ask if the benefit is worth the huge amount of work it takes to put on events. I think there is a place for our events, but we need to acknowledge the limited resources we have and plan accordingly. We’d like to partner with people and organisations to run more local events – get in touch!

One of our goals is creating space for new voices. We do that by having a range of presentation formats and including our commitment to encouraging new voices in communications around our calls for papers. We’re doing well at events, but one challenge I’d like to put to everyone this year is to do the same on the discussion list and social media. It’s up to all of us to make it more welcoming, to make sure every new poster gets a response and hopefully an answer to their question. We’ve proactively managed the list behind the scenes but it’s time to ask everyone to help with that work. [Survey suggestion – tell people what they can do as well as what they shouldn’t e.g. do post questions, positive suggestions. ‘Your newbie question will help others wondering the same thing’; small museum month or similar themed discussions? Best professional development tips? Find ways to spread the mailing list more widely e.g. post topics to FB as well as twitter?]

Our application for Association CIO status voted on last year is continuing. Thanks to committee members, especially Ivan, for work on it; also to Tony Harris, Wendy Sudbury and Annette Haworth for their comments or encouragement.

Events

Survey from UKMW14. Event was rated positively by 96% of attendees. Welcoming, inclusive, inspiring, interesting, invaluable networking with enthusiastic and informed attendees, variety and diversity of speakers and presentation formats, affordable, lack of commercial agenda, camaraderie, ‘the mixture of bigger picture reflection and practical case studies’ that ‘drove home the idea that even small and low-funded services could achieve great things’. Our invitation to keynotes to look back and reflect on the recent histories of cultural heritage technologies might have lead one respondent to call it ‘old news’, while others loved them – you can’t win them all! Some feedback – about more directly translating experience of huge museums and academia to approaches for under-funded museums – fed into today’s theme.

Balancing acts – people have to be able to justify coming but we should also pack less in as people’s brains get full. (Start later, finish earlier; maybe two papers per session? Tell speakers to skip things like the history of their museum – just enough context #) Feedback almost evenly split between ‘smaller, more focused events’ and ‘a bigger event on a more general museum technology theme’. Suggests partnerships the way forward? e.g. Collections Trust’s work with people new to digital linked with ours?

Treasurer’s Report (Ivan)

Annual Accounts 2014

The final accounts of the Museums Computer Group as at 31 December 2014 are submitted for the Meeting’s approval.

As per last year, they were produced by Michael Bushell of Lee, Dicketts & Co, Chartered Certified Accountants, Business & Tax Advisers, Kent.

The accounts show a balance of £12,088 at the year-end; up from £9,397 in 2013.

The major outgoings were the two events, MGM14 in Bristol and UK Museums on the Web 2014 conference held at the Natural History Museum, London.

The Income and Expenditure account shows that in 2014 the Museums Computer Group had an income of £18,050, an expenditure of £5,359, and a surplus of £2,691.

The Balance Sheet shows that at the end of 2014 the Museums Computer Group had assets totalling £12,088. This total exceeds what is necessary to cover basic up-front costs for conference events, therefore it is important that this surplus is well-managed and spent for the benefit of the members.

Corporation Tax and Liability

A potential issue with MCG’s liability for corporation tax, and liability of committee members for debts and contractual obligations was identified and brought to the committee’s attention at the 2014 AGM.

Any retrospective liability for corporation tax is small as will only apply to income from non-members, sponsors and bank account interest.

At the 2014 AGM it was agreed that the committee would investigate converting to a CIO (Charitable incorporated organisation), and complete the necessary paperwork for such an application.

This paperwork is now ready in the form of an extended constitution description and is presented at the 2015 AGM.

Secretary’s Report (Kath)

Membership report – AGM 2015

90 new individual members have registered in the past 12 months, and 2 new corporate members. This brings total individual membership to 292 and corporate members to 10.
MCG events remain a key way to attract new members: 11 new members joined when buying their ticket for the Spring Event in Cambridge, and 23 new members joined for the UKMW14. However, almost two thirds of new members joined outside of these periods, showing that it is not just events that attract people to join.
These new members come from across over 64 different organisations, including 4 organisations outside of the UK. Organisations represented include:
• 27 museums, heritage, galleries and libraries
• 16 universities
• 15 trusts, councils, consultants and representative organisations
• 8 businesses
• 2 archives
Job titles are more varied than in previous years, with only 9 job titles containing the word ‘digital’ (32 in 2014), compared to 6 with the word ‘collections’ in (7 in 2014). This Wordle demonstrates how digital is not the predominant key word in MCG members’ job titles. This might show a shift to digital being introduced more widely into other roles. Also clear is the range of professional levels being represented within our members.

Events Report

UKMW14 : Museums Beyond the Web took place on 7 November 2014 at the Natural History Museum and sold-out with 218 people attending. Blogs, tweets and photographs from the event are archived on the Museums Computer Group website http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/2015/08/31/ukmw14-round

We ran our spring event, ‘Innovation’: the Emperor’s new clothes?, on 14 May at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in Cambridge. 45 people attended the event, including 23 MCG members.

Blogs, tweets and photographs from the event can be found on the Museums Computer Group website http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/2015/05/14/mcginnovation-as-it-happened/

CIO Status

Agreed last AGM to go ahead and become a charitable incorporated organisation (more formal structure but retains the power of the members).

Paperwork ready to go.

Committee members will become trustees and must follow the six trustee duties.

Ivan to approach each committee member individually and ask if they are happy to proceed.

Ivan can share full application if wanted.

Committee Elections

The following committee members are standing for re-election following the completion of their first term:

  • Andrew Lewis
  • Mariann Hardey
  • Michael Guthrie

One vacancy, two nominations and welcomed to the committee:

  • Brian Moss
  • Sarah Middle

Thanks and goodbye to Danny in particular, and to the MCG committee members.

MCG Committee 2015

Chair

Mia Ridge (2014 -2017)

Ordinary and Seconded Members

Dafydd James: to 2017

Andrew Lewis: to 2018

Mariann Hardey: to 2018

Michael Guthrie: to 2018

Jojanna Perez Strand: to 2016

Sarah Middle: to 2018

Brian Moss: to 2018

Rebecca Atkinson: to 2017

Martin Bazley: to 2017

Ina Pruegel: to 2017

Jessica Suess: to 2017

Jennifer Ross: to 2017

Rosie Clarke: to 2017

Treasurer

Ivan Teage (2014 – 2017)

Secretary

Katherine Biggs (2014 – 2017)