Back in January we last published on Jimmy’s Corner writing that it was time for change in 2018. Six months have passed and in that time we have held a major event in Liverpool, pushed for change through placard exhibitions on the streets of London and now we have launched a new programme – Catalyst.
During that time there has also been a renewed push on government within the homelessness sector recently with commemoration events around the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and a swathe of new research publications from the main providers. Whether it’s Shelter’s Big Conversation on Social Housing or Crisis’ Everybody In, there is growing sense of urgency because the situation is getting worse year on year.
We at the Museum of Homelessness recognise our unique position in terms of reaching the public – Since our launch at Tate Modern in April 2017 we’ve presented work in key museums and galleries from Gallery of Modern Art Glasgow to Tate Liverpool all with the intention of influencing wider public perceptions and communicating a more humane message about the complexities that cause homelessness. We’ve connected with more than 5,000 visitors in a meaningful way. Because everything we do is created in different ways by people who’ve faced the issues, our visitors have an emotional and memorable experience.
At a recent event in Liverpool one visitor remarked that art can cross borders, he was referring to something we at the museum know well – people want to do something about it but poverty discourse in the media and simplistic messaging stops them. There are just not enough forums for proper discussion about homelessness and it is this kind of opinion that has influenced how we think about campaigning.
People often don’t associate museums with campaigning; often they are seen as neutral places that should merely reflect the past. Yet since the first museum was founded in Lambeth in the 1630s, museums have educated people and shaped public opinion. It is also true that that many histories, including that of homelessness have been largely ignored by museums. We want to change that.
This is where our new project catalyst comes in. Supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation,
Catalyst is the first museum creative campaign training programme and is now open for applications. The programme is aimed at people who have experienced housing inequality or homelessness. This includes people who are social housing tenants, have migrated to the UK or have been housed in temporary accommodation. People are not expected to share their experiences as part of the programme, rather to channel them as a driver to make wider change happen.
Beginning in September, trainees will learn about things like radical histories, storytelling, influencing and museum practice, drawing on our archive which shows how today’s sector has been shaped by people standing up to make change. The programme also includes paid freelance opportunities to work with Museum of Homelessness to deliver a change making project. We know that placing experience of homelessness at the heart of what the museum does is the key to creating messages that really change people’s perceptions and Catalyst will build on this important work whilst inequality continues to sharpen in our society.
Applications for Catalyst open now and you can find out more here Applications close on 23 July.
For a quick link to the application form click here.
This article was written by Matt and Jess Turtle, co-founders and Core Group Members, Museum of Homelessness
A version of this blog has also been posted on the Homeless Link blog.