We’re taking part

ICOM UK 2020 Working Internationally Conference: Soft Power in Turbulent Times

12 Mar 2020, 11:00AM - 5:00PM
Leeds Art Gallery
Booking details:
Registrations Close 5 March

Leeds Art Gallery The Headrow Leeds LS1 3AA

ICOM UK: 2020 Working Internationally Conference: Soft Power in Turbulent Times

Creative Europe Desk UK are attending this conference in Leeds, please get in touch if you'd like to arrange a meeting.

The UK lost its #1 ranking in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. Why? Brexit and the internal turbulence that has dominated headlines and shifted time and energy away from international diplomacy. According to the authors of the index, the UK clung to the #2 spot due to its high performance in the ‘engagement, culture, education, and digital’ categories, which made up for a lacklustre performance in the government and enterprise categories.

As Brexit rumbles on, the 2020 Working Internationally conference will examine the role museums and galleries can play in supporting UK soft power. The 2017 report Britain’s Global Future: Harnessing the soft power capital of UK institutions made a powerful case for the role of museums in promoting the nation’s cultural values and contributing to its economy. Recognizing the international significance of culture, the Mendoza Review looked at how museums might support soft power and the British Council published research in 2018 that showed that what people love about a country are not products of governments but of people and institutions like museums.

The conference will examine the variety of ways in which museums and galleries create and influence soft power. We will hear from a range of representatives from museums and galleries, government agencies and NGOs to understand the interplay between policy, business and culture in the shaping of diplomacy. The conference will also explore the relationship between soft power and museum sector issues such as decolonization and digital engagement.

The Working Internationally Conference is organised by ICOM UK and NMDC with support from the British Council.


10:30 - 11:00 Registration, refreshments, networking

11:00 - 11:10 Welcome and Introduction

11:10 - 11:55 Session 1: Setting the Scene

Session Chair: Kathryn Simpson, NMDC

Helen Jones, Director of Global Engagement and Strategy, Science Museum Group (SMG)

Kate Arthurs, Director, Arts, British Council

Lone Britt Christensen, Cultural Attache, Embassy of Denmark in the UK

Andrew Mackay, Director, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery

11:55 - 12:40 Session 2: Restitution and Decolonisation through the lens of soft power

Tonya Nelson, Chair of ICOM UK in conversation with Terry Simioti Nyambe, Assistant Curator of Ichthyology, Livingstone Museum, Zambia and ICOM Executive Board.

12:40 - 13:55 Lunch and networking

13:25 - 13:55 ICOM UK Annual General Meeting

13:55 - 14:30 Session 3: Digital soft power

Session Chair: Arran Rees, ICOM UK

Dr Natalia Grincheva, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Melbourne and author of Global Trends in Museum Diplomacy and Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age.

14:30 - 15:15 Session 4: Soft power in the next decade

Session Chair: Catherine McDermott, ICOM UK

Nick Marchand, Head of International, V&A

Paul Brummell, Head of Soft Power and External Affairs Department, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)

15:15 - 15:35 Break, refreshments, networking

15:35 - 16:10 Session 5: Soft power in action

Cat Lumb, Producer: Jallianwala Bagh 1919: Punjab Under Siege | Secondary and Post-16 Co-ordinator (Humanities/Arts), Manchester Museum

Dr Sarah Worden, Senior Curator African Collections, National Museums Scotland

16:10 - 16:40 Session 6: Where do we go from here?

Session Chair and Speakers as per Session 1.

16:40 - 16:45 Thank you and close of conference