The North East Emerging Museum Professionals Group

18342281_419289128447568_8057625872647443527_nThe North East Emerging Museum Professionals Group (NEEMPG) is a new networking group set up to help those in the early stages of their museum, art gallery and heritage career.

Hannah Mather, who graduated from Newcastle University in 2016 with an MA in Museum Studies, launched the group in April and here she tells us all about NEEMPG, its aims and hopes for the future.

What is NEEMPG and why did you set it up?

It’s a networking group aimed not just at early stage professionals. We’re providing a fun and enthusiastic environment for members by welcoming new ideas and allowing them to comfortably ask questions, give honest advice and receive support. By building relationships with other professionals we can learn from one another, more established professionals can share their experience while those just starting out bring fresh ideas to the sector.

The group has very diverse members, ranging from dedicated volunteers to students all of which have a common interest in museums, history and heritage.

We’re about encouraging professional development but also representing and unifying the diverse roles within the sector. The Group is also keen to reach out to the numerous volunteers in this sector, who may be helping at museums and want to extend their networks and build their knowledge. We are celebrating the huge contribution that volunteers make to the museums sector and the benefits of being involved.

Sharing advice and good practice is essential for early career professionals, and the forum allows us to do just that. It’s great to be able to engage with people in this way, helping to open doors and to help each other.

How does NEEMPG work?

It’s very social media based at the moment, through Facebook and Twitter. One of the group’s key aims is to encourage participation in professional development opportunities, so we’ve been using the platforms to post or retweet about placements, jobs, exhibitions and the like, particularly those in the North East.

As well as the social media profile, we will be organising events too, meet-ups and socials, going to exhibitions as a group – so there is the real chance to meet and build networks.

How have things gone so far?

It’s been very popular. The interesting has been amazing, we have exceeded 100 members on both Facebook and Twitter in just a few weeks which is very encouraging. Members are inter-acting with each other, sharing opportunities and good practice. It’s great to be able to engage with people in this way, particularly opening doors and sharing knowledge.
Are there similar groups around the country?

Yes, NEEMPG is part of a growing network of EMP groups in the UK. There are currently two other EMP groups which we are working closely with, one in the West Midlands and another in London. I see this group which is based in the North East as an opportunity to celebrate what is being achieved in this region and not only do we wish to help professionals here but also to engage and build relationships with other groups and professionals around the country.

 What’s next for NEEMPG?

As for the future, we want the group to be very much about unity. Currently, we are North-East based, but we will be build our engagement and connections with the existing groups around the country. That will allow us to grow and to organise bigger events and meet up. It would be great to be part of a nation-wide network of early professionals working and volunteering in the museums sector. We are also currently working on exciting outreach which will allow us to connect with other areas both nationally and eventually internationally.

To find out more about NEEMPG join the Facebook group at  and Like the Facebook page

You can also follow the group on Twitter @NEEMPG


MCH Seminar Series: Nostalgia: a ‘connective tissue’ for heritage and/or an aide to late capitalism?



Image credit: Nostalgia Shelf Eugene Kim

Wednesday 21 June, 1-3pm, Armstrong Building, 2.90

Nostalgia: a ‘connective tissue’ for heritage and/or an aide to late capitalism?

Prof Alastair Bonnett (Geography, Newcastle University)

Philippa Carter (PhD Researcher, Geography, Newcastle University)

Dr Sarah de Nardi (Geography, Durham University)


Prof Alastair Bonnett: ‘The nostalgic commodity: hyper-capitalism and yearning’

Late capitalism sustains the seemingly contradictory impulses to uproot the world and to commoditise memory into nostalgic products and experiences. This paper looks at how this paradox has been approached in Eve Chiapello and Luc Boltanski’s The New Spirit of Capitalism and suggests that capitalism and nostalgia may have closer and more creative ties that previously theorised.

Philippa Carter: ‘Encountering nostalgia in the Land of Oak and Iron’

My PhD project explores the ways in which landscapes are valued as heritage by communities and across generations. Taking the Derwent Valley, North East England as a case study and working in collaboration with the Land of Oak and Iron Landscape Partnership project the research will explore the ways in which people understand and engage with their local landscapes and how this is mediated by their family relationships and collective memories. Focusing on the ways in which memories of the industrial landscape are employed and deployed, transformed and translated within and between local communities, the project will particularly consider the ways in which nostalgia can play an active role in the construction of memory and heritage. In this talk I will consider some of the initial encounters I have experienced within the Land of Oak and Iron, and what the feelings of nostalgia expressed within these situations can reveal about how individuals and groups negotiate the past as part of constructing a shared heritage.

Dr Sarah de Nardi: ‘Mapping more-than-nostalgia: framing heritage co-production and heritage futures through community mapping’

Is nostalgia an affect? Or is it a performative mechanism enacted by heritage professionals and publics together, in order to get the ‘mood’ right? Like heritage co-production, nostalgia may work as a connective tissue between heritage publics, practitioners and heritage objects through materiality and imagination. In this talk, I argue that the process of co-producing, of making and negotiating heritage values, relies on more than verbal clues and sensory experiences that exceed the discursive and representational. I explore these clues through community-led memory mapping. Co-curated memory mapping may bring together the imaginative, the creative and the unspoken in a story that ‘illustrates’ present and future passions, dreams and statements as well as (or more than) simple nostalgia for a past.


The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book


SACS working paper series – SACS-o

Launch of SACS working paper series – SACS-o

We are pleased to announce the launch of the School of Arts and Cultures first online Working Papers series – SACS-o (ISSN 2399-8725). The series received funding for its establishment from the School’s Research Committee and we are pleased to acknowledge that support here.

The SACS-o Working Papers series is an online, academic series which publishes research papers and shorter works-in-progress by emerging and established scholars working in the broad domains of media, culture and heritage, based at Newcastle University or one of its collaborating partner institutions. The series publishes novel findings which are immediately open access, making content easily and freely available which we hope will increase audience, visibility, citations and impact.

The first paper, UK General Election 2015: Dealing with Austerity, is authored by Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (both Northumbria University). You can read the article here Current issue. This is the first in a linked set of papers to be published by a group of colleagues from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities who worked together on a series of sub-projects focused on the UK General Election 2015.

We have two more papers in the publications pipeline and are seeking new contributions, so please consider publishing in the series. We would also be grateful if you would forward this email and spread the news about the series to other colleagues who might be interested in contributing papers.  The guidelines for submission can be found here Submission and guidelines.

We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, please email Tobias Bürger (

Karen Ross and Tobias Bürger



MCH Seminar Series: ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Investigating the Power of the Poppy and the Significance of the Centenary



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Photo credit: Joanne Sayner


We are delighted to announce details of the next event in the MCH seminar series:

‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Investigating the Power of the Poppy and the Significance of the Centenary

Speakers: Dr Jenny Kidd (Cardiff University) and Dr Joanne Sayner (Newcastle University)
Chair: Prof Rhiannon Mason (Newcastle University)
Date and time: 17th May, 3 – 5pm
Location: Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, Room 2.90
Format: Co-presented paper followed by discussion

Free, all welcome


On 4 August 2014 the now iconic poppy exhibition ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ opened at the Tower of London. Memorably dismissed as ‘Fake, trite and inward-looking – a UKIP-style memorial’ by Jonathan Jones in The Guardian (28 October 2014), it was nevertheless estimated that five million people visited it in the four months it was onsite. Accompanying this installation was an education programme developed by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) called ‘Why Remember?’. This programme in turn originated in an Arts and Humanities Research Council network called ‘The Significance of the Centenary’, which was co-organised by the authors of this paper and the Education and Learning Manager of HRP. It was based on three questions ‘Why should we remember?’, ‘Why are 100 years significant?’ and ‘How would you remember?’. The programme ran online (, was part of HRP’s on- and off-site learning programmes, was the basis for visitor research done during the opening week of the installation, and is now being used to address audiences as two set pieces from the poppy installation travel around the UK. More than 2000 responses have been gathered to date. It is the 1488 visitor responses collated at the Tower and online as part of Historic Royal Palaces learning programmes between August 2014 and April 2015 that are the subject of this paper.

Discourse and content analysis of the data provides us with some answers to the questions: who participated (in terms of age, gender and nationality); why they thought they were there; what forms of remembering they considered to be important; what links they made to other events past and present; and to what extent their answers evoked and/or reflected an emotional response. We investigate the extent to which remembrance was performed differently by males and females, online and offline, and we draw conclusions about the effect of age and nationality. We focus particularly on the ways in which people talked about the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and the relationship this symbol had to the centenary as marker and event. We explore how the visitors used the participation in the survey as a form of commemoration and suggest that, based on these responses, it is too simplistic to dismiss the installation as a nationalistic and ‘toothless’ war memorial (Jones 2014).

Jenny Kidd is Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. She researches across the fields of digital, heritage and museum studies, with a particular interest in questions of representation and power. Jenny recently published Representation (Routledge 2015) and Museums in the New Mediascape (Ashgate 2014). Dr Jenny Kidd,,‎, @jenkidd

Joanne Sayner is Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University. She publishes on the politics of remembering in the UK and contemporary Germany, with a particular focus on gender, media and life writing. Her most recent book was Reframing Antifascism: Memory, Genre and the Life Writings of Greta Kuckhoff (Palgrave 2013). Dr Joanne Sayner,

Both Jenny and Joanne are Co-Investigators for the AHRC WWI Voices of War and Peace Engagement Centre ( with responsibility for the thematic area ‘Commemoration’.

Media Now: Emotion, Affect and Mythologies

mch-final-poster_march15th_highres-page-001We are delighted to welcome:

Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University)

Dr Darren Kelsey (Media, Culture and Heritage, Newcastle University)

Chair: Dr Florian Zollmann (Newcastle University)

Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University) – ‘Anger as a Political Emotion in Media Discourses: Trump, Brexit and Beyond’

Wednesday, March 15, 3pm – 5pm in Armstrong Building 2.90

This presentation looks at the role of anger as a political emotion, in the context of recent political events. Anger has historically been viewed as a “dangerous” emotion in public life, associated with uncontrollable aggression and violence. Yet social movement scholars have discerned a mobilising potential in anger: Through sharing the experience of being angry about particular forms of injustice, citizens and activists are collectively empowered to take action.

The presentation explores how news media represent anger in a variety of different contexts, including routine protest coverage, the EU Referendum campaign, and the US Presidential election campaign of Donald Trump. The presentation suggests that anger is frequently constructed as an explanatory framework for understanding grievances, but also as a rhetorical and strategic tool for mobilising support amongst disenfranchised groups. Anger stems from collective and publicly articulated grievances, usually against larger injustices that no individual can address on their own. Ultimately, anger is always-already political, for better or worse.

Dr Darren Kelsey (Media, Culture and Heritage, Newcastle University) – ‘“You’re not laughing now, are you?” Farage, Brexit and the Hero’s Journey: a case study of affective mythology’

This paper is concerned with affective mythology and right wing populism in media coverage of Nigel Farage. It considers how archetypal traits of mythological Heroism appeared in the Mail Online through Farage’s image as a man of the people who distinguished himself from the political establishment. Through Campbell’s (1949) monomyth we see a distinct trait of this archetypal convention: The Hero’s Journey. Farage was constructed as a man on a mission, fighting against the odds, overcoming trials and tribulations to “take back control” from the EU. Hero mythology functioned to suppress ideological and historical complexities that contradicted Farage’s populist image. This analysis then extends to consider the affective-discursive loops operating through reader comments on the Mail Online website. This enables us to look more closely at responses to news stories and the contributions of readers that reflect the affective qualities of the monomyth. Through this attention to a powerful albeit familiar archetype, the ideological tensions of British national identity and EU politics are analysed in light of the referendum.

The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book

17 areas of development for public relations in 2017

wadds1Ahead of his latest lecture to PR students on Friday, February 10, our Visiting Professor Stephen Waddington explores some of the developments that students can expect to see in public relations in 2017. Each issue is the start of bigger conversation about the future of practice.



  1. The robots are coming

We’re starting to feel the impact of machines in at least three areas of public relations: content production; content distribution and publication; and workflow. Artificial intelligence is a growing issue in public relations.

  1. Algorithms and bubbles

Algorithms are commonplace for searching and organising how information is displayed. But be careful as they create bubbles that insulate us from contrary opinion. We need to work hard to break out of algorithmic bubbles.

  1. Over reliance on data

If you’re working on a campaign for 2017 use tools to establish a hypothesis and then put them down and go into the real world to talk, and more importantly listen to your publics.

  1. Rethink content formats

Most press releases aren’t written for the press. Instead they’ll be posted on a corporate website and carved up into a multitude of formats for customer emails and tweets. If press releases are your primary means of communication it’s time for a rethink.


  1. Internet shifts to video formats

2016 has seen innovation in virtual reality. Live video could be equally disruptive. It’s a powerful form of first person storytelling. Both Facebook and Periscope have invested in tools for video producers.

  1. Paying to play with influencers

Each new form of media from Snapchat to YouTube, and Instagram to Twitter, has given rise to a new breed of influencers. They provide a means of building trust with specific communities through third party storytelling.

  1. Representing the publics we serve

Public relations is a female-led industry yet there is a significant pay gap between in favour of men. Meanwhile 91 per cent of practitioners are white and 89 per cent identify as British. We need to better represent the publics that we serve.

  1. Social media monopolies

In the UK Google accounts for more than 85% of internet searches. Facebook has a strong and growing platform of services including Instagram and WhatsApp. Meanwhile Google+ has fallen by the wayside. LinkedIn, now owned by Microsoft, is pursuing an advocacy, content and learning strategy.

  1. Social media in the enterprise

The application of social media technologies internally within an organisation have shown early promise but adoption rates are low. Behaviour, culture and technology are all issues. Facebook’s Workplace offers a potential solution.

  1. Internet voice disintermediation

Amazon Echo and Google Home are internet connected devices which summon up services from the internet based on voice commands. They are set to bring about another wave of internet disintermediation.

  1. Corporate speak

Much corporate marketing remains focused on the organisation rather than the intended public. More enlightened organisations are using new media as a means of conversation.

12 Living your values: take back control and make America great again

Whatever your view of the EU Referendum or the US Election campaigns, they were both built on a solid message. Every campaign needs a clear purpose that can be summarised in a few words. Publics are looking for a point of view.

  1. Trump cycle replaces the news cycle

The Trump campaign during the US election turned the exploitation of the media into an art form. This wasn’t about news cycles, they’re long dead, but the Trump cycle. Opponents struggled to counter as Trump moved onto the next story.

  1. Integrated Measurement Framework

The Integrated Measurement Framework guides practitioners through a series of seven steps to create a measurement approach for a campaign. AMEC’s job for 2017 is to make its framework a standard in practice throughout the profession.

  15 Social capital: a community life force

Social capital isn’t something you’ll find on a profit and loss statement but it’ll be increasingly important for organisations seeking to build trust with their publics. Brands have an opportunity to help bring people together.

   16 Community of practice

A close working relationship between academia and practice is a hallmark of any professional discipline. In public relations this relationship is limited. We need to learn from the body of knowledge that academic colleagues are investigating and apply it to our day jobs.

   17 Are you any good?

How do you train in a profession where the skills you learn are likely to be outdated before you complete the qualification or training programme? Continuous professional development (CPD) integrated with your personal development is the only solution.

This post is based on a longer article and deck about public relations in 2017 that Stephen posted on his personal blog.

About Stephen Waddington

Stephen is a Visiting Professor in Practice at Newcastle University supporting the university and students through teaching and mentoring.

He is also is Partner and Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum helping clients and colleagues to do the best job possible engaging with the public.


Museums, health and wellbeing: reflections on impacts and methods



Friday, January 27, 3-5pm, Armstrong Building, 2.90

Museums, health and wellbeing: reflections on impacts and methods 

Presenters: Prof Andrew Newman, Dr Bruce Davenport (both Newcastle University), Dr Nuala Morse (The University of Manchester/UCL Culture) and Zoë Brown (Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives)

Chair: Bethany Rex (Newcastle University)

Nuala Morse*, Zoë Brown*, Linda Thomson (UCL Culture), Wendy Gallagher (Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester), Helen Chatterjee (UCL Division of Biosciences and UCL Culture): “Museum-focused activities in person-centred dementia care:  Research methodologies with hospital patients”

*presenting authors

The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book

This study investigates the efficacy of museum-focused activities in supporting dementia care, in acute medical wards and inpatient dementia services. There is currently increased interest in using non-pharmacological interventions to target behavioural symptoms of moderate and late stage dementia such as aggression, anxiety and wandering. Museum-focused activities are proposed as a means of providing relief from these symptoms and meaningful creative activities. The study developed a methodology to assess the effect of the activities ‘in the moment’ and their short-term effect. It has been recognised that interventions with small but meaningful short-term effect are important in supporting dementia care (Pinquart et al, 2006).

Participants (n=<14) took part in weekly museum-focused activities for 6 weeks (Sept 2016-Jan 2017). Mixed methods were used comprising session observation, pre and post-session assessment of occupational therapist rated mood, social interaction and agitation (before session, 2 hours and 24 hours after session) and interviews with staff at the programme end. This work-in-progress presentation will describe the challenges of developing fit-for-purpose and gentle methodologies for researching the impact of museum-focused activities for people with dementia.

Andrew Newman: “The connectivity and social capital of people in later life with dementia: a qualitative analysis of data collected from Dementia and Imagination.”

This paper explores the connectivity and social capital (through which the value of relationships can be understood) of people in later life living with dementia. This is achieved through the analysis of qualitative data collected from a UK national research project entitled Dementia and Imagination which was funded by the ESRC and the AHRC. This involved people in later life with dementia, of various types and severity, undertaking visual arts enrichment activities at three sites in the UK.

The importance of social networks for the wellbeing of older people is well established in the literature for example, Gray (2009), Cornwall (2009), Grundy and Sloggett (2003), Pinquart and Sorensen (2000) and Litwin and Shiovitz, (2006) amongst others. However, despite associations between being embedded in social capital rich networks and reduced incidence of dementia being identified (Fratigioni et al. 2000), we know little about the lived experience of connectivity for those living with the condition.

There was a reported reduction in the size of networks and changes in the balance of the sorts of relationships they represented and the resources they provided access to in comparison to when respondents were cognitively or/and physically healthier. It was evident that some were lacking in opportunities for emotional relationships that they could contribute to as well as receive support from. This situation was more noticeable for those in care homes, with generally more advanced dementia (and sometimes frailty). The visual arts enrichment activity provided an opportunity to reconnect with others and to provide and receive emotional support.  As is noted by Ferlander (2007) emotional support has ‘positive impacts upon health, especially mental health, mainly via psychological mechanisms, such as personal control and stress reduction’ (p. 123).

Bruce Davenport: “Creative activities for people with dementia: expressions of personal identity and the practices of care in residential care settings.”

As part of the Dementia & Imagination project, programmes of 6, weekly creative workshops were delivered with people with dementia in 3 different settings in 3 parts of the UK: people living in care-homes (in the north-east of England), people in assessment centres and out-patient wards in hospitals (in the Midlands) and people living in private accommodation (in North Wales). This paper focuses on the workshops delivered in care-home and hospital settings.

The workshops in care homes involved people with dementia, the carers who worked in the care-homes and, more rarely, family members. In the hospital settings, the people with dementia were accompanied by nursing staff and, occasionally, by family members. The impact of the workshops were assessed using a variety of methods; this paper focuses on the data from qualitative interviews with participants and carers, artists’ diaries, open questions about participants’ experiences. The qualitative interviews were carried out before the workshops began, immediately after the end of the programme and 3 months later. The open questions were asked during a data gathering session immediately after the end of the programme.

The creative workshops focused on sensory stimulation and responding to each participants’ interests and expressive abilities. Nonetheless, the workshops evoked moments of reminiscence, social interaction and other expressions of personal identity. Models of quality care such as relationship-centred care, and person-centred care, recommend that carers develop an understanding of residents and patients in care and hospital settings. Whilst the value of reminiscence remains a topic for debate, the data from the interviews indicates that these moments fed into the carers’ understandings of the participants and their interactions with them. This implies a range of secondary pathways to impact from the workshops, through changes to carers and family members, rather than the direct impact of participation for the people with dementia.

The same models of care also advocate opportunities for residents to experience personal autonomy and experience being valued by others. The data indicate that the practices used by the artists were consonant with these models. The qualitative interview data indicates that the skills that the artists’ brought to the workshops were variously recognised, critiqued and resisted by the care and nursing staff.

The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book