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The Digital Literacy for Leadership Programme



The Digital Literacy for Leadership programme,funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and Art Fund, began in April 2022 and is supporting current and emerging museum leaders in Scotland to develop their digital confidence, understanding, and skills. 

The opportunities around digital culture can be huge and the challenges daunting. A thriving, successful museum needs digitally literate leaders and teams who recognise these opportunities and challenges and understand the ways in which digital technologies, content and culture can best serve their mission. This is more relevant now than it ever has been, but in a fast-changing, multi-layered environment, it can be hard to know where to start. 

The collaborative learning programme combines strategy, theory and expert insight with practical, actionable advice – helping individuals and you organisations to understand these challenges and make the most of the opportunities. 

The programme is designed and delivered by Anra Kennedy and Jane Finnis of Culture24, with the support of digital leadership specialists including Dr Lauren Vargas and Patrick Towell of The Audience Agency Group. This experienced team have run similar programmes for a wide range of arts and heritage professionals in the UK and internationally to great effect.  Including Leading the Sector, part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, Cultivator - Creative and Cultural Leadership Development Programme, and DEN Academy in the Netherlands. 

2022-23 Cohort 

There are up 30 places in the cohort, made up of 15 pairs of participants – leaders and changemakers – from 15 museums in Scotland. Two people from each museum participate together to provide the best chance of effectively embedding their learning and development in their organisation. 

At least one of the pair holds a leadership position: CEO, director, trustee or senior leader. The other half of will be someone who makes change happen and gets things done, someone who manages a particular strand of work, perhaps – an emerging leader. 

We know that ‘leaders’ come with a range of job titles, expertise, experience and digital confidence and we have welcomed that variety within this cohort. What’s most important is that everyone has a desire to drive change in their organisations.   

Our current cohort includes: 

  • Abbotsford Trust
  • Aberdeenshire Council – Archives, Gallery & Museum
  • Aberdeenshire Council – Museums service
  • Almond Valley Heritage Trust
  • Museums & Galleries Edinburgh
  • Dundee Contemporary Arts
  • Dundee Heritage Trust
  • The Hunterian, University of Glasgow
  • Maryhills Burgh Halls Trust 
  • National Museums Scotland 
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of St Andrews 
  • Whithorn Trust

What will be gained?

This is a cohort-based programme in which we will support participants to: 

  • understand what ‘digital’ means in a museum context and where most value lies for their teams, organisation, communities, wider audiences and the collections you work with
  • learn how to become a digitally literate leader in a small, inclusive and supportive community of practice, with peers facing similar challenges 
  • tailor their learning to apply in a chosen project at your museum, helping build their teams’ digital skills and their organisations’ digital maturity and capacity 
  • build their own digital literacy, skills and confidence, in the context of their leadership roles. 

‘I think the best thing about this programme is the presence in the background of a cadre of amazing practitioners who we get to tap into and who have the experience to guide us at arm’s length.’– Dr Giovanna Vitelli, Head of Collections and Curatorial, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow (participant in previous Culture24-led digital leadership programme). 

When, where, and time commitment 

Over ten months, beginning in late April 2022 (see specific dates below), participants will receive a mix of strategic and practical guidance, including: 

  • Three half-day online workshops focussing on understanding and applying digitally literate leadership 
  • Three digital skills-focussed workshops of two hours each, involving other colleagues from their museum if relevant 
  • Six individual 1 hour support sessions, tailored to their personal and organisational contexts, guiding them through a process of self-directed learning and digital capacity-building 
  • Being part of a friendly, supportive group of peers all facing similar challenges, connected via an online community space. 

In addition to attending the workshops and support sessions outlined above, participants will be required to spend time within their leadership role, learning, reflecting, connecting with peers and trying out new approaches. 

We will help participants plan this self-directed learning around their particular needs and priorities. 

  • Perhaps they will need to better understand their team’s digital skills and attitudes? 
  • Maybe they want to understand and improve the impact of their museum’s public-facing digital work? 
  • Or to improve the organisation’s collaborative work and efficiencies, using digital tools?
  • Perhaps they know that their museum needs to build its digital maturity, but they are not sure where to start? 

These 1-2-1 sessions can benefit individuals to clarify goals and talk through challenges in a supportive space. They are an opportunity to reflect and gain greater perspective on their own development. 

Whatever starting point the participants are at, the workshops and resources will help them figure out the changes they need to make and the team will then support them to try things out, putting theory into practice.   

We don’t want participants to think of this as ‘extra’ time on top of their day job – our experienced team will support them in planning and trying out approaches that serve their museum’s mission and purpose, align with current (and/or future) projects and most importantly, are realistic and achievable. This is about building digital leadership in useful ways, not burdening people with ‘homework’ for the sake of it. 

The workshops are integral to the process, and we expect our participants to commit to attending all workshops.

The six support sessions will take place at regular intervals between May 2022 and March 2023. They will be scheduled at times that suit participants, once the programme begins. 

Why is this of value for museums? And why now?

As the sector emerges from the pandemic, when for many museums, digital technologies, processes and services were centre stage as never before, now is the time for leaders to reframe and to take action. 

Each organisation is at a different stage in its digital development, their contexts and priorities differ, but the fundamentals of effective digital leadership apply to all museums. 

This programme will help leaders to become more informed, reflective, responsive, active and confident around digital, in order to help their organisations thrive and serve their strategic aims. It will support them to explore how they understand, value, manage, and use digital in the widest sense, across every aspect of their organisation’s activity.  

‘This process has been brilliant and thought provoking – engaging me in new areas of thought and practice – challenging some of my own fears and concerns – creating clarity around how I can make the biggest difference to PHM and the sector as a digital leader (in the way that I define that for me).’– Katy Ashton, Director, People’s History Museum, Manchester (participant in previous Culture24-led digital leadership programme). 

Contact us

If you'd like to find out more about the Digital Literacy for Leadership Programme, please contact Kelly Forbes. Digital Manager at MGS.

Kelly Forbes