South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Blog: Claire Dixon reflects on her first six months as South West Fed Chair

It seems incredible to already be reflecting on my first six months in the role of Chair for the South West Fed. It has been a busy and rewarding time, meeting colleagues on the board and starting to think about moving the organisation forward to meet the needs of our wider cultural sector in the South West.


One exciting change is that from this year, we are going to be reducing our board meetings to half days, allowing us to use the other half of the day to meet with colleagues from across the sector in the South West. We will be looking for locations to meet and engage with different cultural projects and issues (you can email info@swfed.org.uk if you have ideas as to where we could go and teams we could engage with). These new sessions will enable high quality conversations, debates and shared learning across many organisations including Arts Council England, Museums Association, The National Archives, the South West Museum Development Programme, National Trust and South West Historic Environment Forum, to name just a few. I am thrilled that representatives from these groups are keen to work with us and look forward to being able to report back to our members on the content of these sessions.


It has also been a challenging few months and we have taken the difficult decision to move our 2019 conference from the Penryn campus to Plymouth University (more details will be announced shortly). This will ensure we are still honouring our commitment to move around the region but also to ensure accessibility to the event, for the whole of the South West region. We continue to have a great relationship with the University of Exeter and I was proud to sign our new Memorandum of Understanding just before Christmas.



Sean Fielding (Director of Innovation, Impact and Business, University of Exeter) and Claire Dixon (Chair, South West Fed) signing the MoU


I hope our members will engage with a new member survey that will be launched this year, which aims to help us find out more about what you value as members, and what the South West Fed could be doing better, in terms of serving our members and the wider cultural sector in the South West. This will feed into our Forward Plan and also help us to direct our limited resources more appropriately. Finally, I look forward to the next six months and taking part in my first South West Fed conference as Chair and I hope to meet many of our members at what will certainly be a highlight of my year.


Claire Dixon is the Chair of South West Fed. Claire is also Director of Museums at Bath Preservation Trust and Chair of Bath Museums Partnership. Previously, she has worked at the National Trust, Hampshire Museum Services (working alongside the British Museum and Mary Rose Trust), and The Tank Museum, where she was part of a major development project that led to the creation of a new museum.


Twitter: @c_l_dixon