Volunteers in West Midlands museums and galleries outnumber paid employees by more than 2:1

Forthcoming research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will highlight the abundance of volunteers working within local museums and galleries.

Given the increasing interest in the role of volunteering can play in keeping people ‘job ready’ during the recession, this finding may well attract interest from beyond the heritage sector.

Along with a detailed look at the profile of the workforce, Fast Forward 2008 will provide an update on a range of variables, including levels of visiting and average service standards (disability access, audience development, and so on) within West Midlands museums.

The 2008 publication will include an Excel workbook containing the raw data behind the findings. This move will no doubt be welcomed by researchers keen to understand trends in more detail.

Indeed, the publication of the complete dataset is something English Heritage has also trialled in their latest Heritage Counts publication, which has several accompanying datasets.

The move towards making cultural data available in this way is likely to make data more useful to more people. With a consistent evidence base, for example, local cultural providers may choose to refer to data in their business planning and monitoring activity.

Fast Forward 2008 is due to be published in January 2010 and will be available to download from the MLA website, where you’ll also find past Fast Forward publications (2002-2006).

For more information about the role of culture and volunteering in the region’s post-recession recovery, see the recent briefing from the West Midlands Cultural Observatory (Nov 2009) (pdf, 140kb).

Photo by houghtonabout

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