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Saturday, 24th February 2024


For immediate release: Monday 4 January 2010
Contact: Sunita Sharma, Media Relations Adviser at MLA on 020 7273 8299; email sunita.sharma@mla.gov.uk

Dr. Atul Shah of Diverse Ethics has been appointed to the Board of the MLA.

MLA Board leads from the top with diversity scheme

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has introduced a new Board secondment scheme to promote diversity among decision-makers; the measure supports its vision that access to culture and the arts is for everyone, of all ages and backgrounds.
The new scheme is designed to enable the MLA to benefit from the expertise inherent in a more diverse board, utilising the experience and knowledge of people from under-represented groups. The scheme also enables secondees to gain experience of the work of a Board, developing personal capacity and offering insights into fiduciary responsibilities and governance processes.
A wide field of applicants competed for the first two appointments. The first two successful candidates, Ms Subnum Hariff and Dr. Atul K. Shah, are set to join the MLA Board for one year from January 2010. Further appointments will be held every six months as the scheme rolls forward.

Andrew Motion, Chair of the MLA said, "It is vital that museums, libraries and archives are fully representative of their communities, not just as a matter of principle, but also to continue to widen participation in order to remain sustainable and relevant and attract and welcome a more diverse audience and workforce. Boards and trustees have a key role to play in achieving this objective.

"I would like to welcome our new members to the board - the MLA stands to greatly benefit from their fresh perspectives and experiences. Schemes like this can contribute in helping to diversify the membership of culture and arts boards. It will certainly strengthen the governance and leadership capacity of the MLA Board and will directly support the development of our Equality and Diversity strategy".

Dr. Atul Shah, says, "Many communities in Britain protect their heritage voluntarily through their own resourcefulness and creativity. However, there is an urgent need for professional support, and synergy with the MLA will make it win-win for both. It is also critical that young people from these communities, many of whom are very talented, seriously consider museums, libraries and archives as options for their career."

Subnum Hariff , said, "I am delighted to have been given this opportunity of a secondment to the MLA Board and look forward to contributing to the strategic vision and the work of the MLA over the next 12 months".

The MLA sets standards through Accreditation and Designation. It also operates major programmes such as Renaissance in the Regions and - for the cultural Olympics festival in 2012 - Stories of the World. Through these and a wide range of improvement interventions, the MLA supports the funding bodies for museums, libraries and archives. The objectives are for the sector to better represent individuals and communities across England; to support young people; and to celebrate cultural diversity through wider access to historic collections.

The MLA is also working alongside other cultural NDPBs (including for example ACE, English Heritage, British Council and BFI) to promote the need for effective equality and diversity policies in the cultural sector. MLA continues to support positive action schemes such as the Diversify programme; the Creative Apprenticeship scheme for museums; and the CILIP Encompass scheme. In addition, the MLA and The National Archives have recently published a joint strategy for archives, which also establishes goals for diversity among the workforce in record offices.

Roy Clare, MLA Chief Executive said; "The MLA is committed to promoting activities and measures that help make culture and the arts accessible to all. Our strategy is broad and ambitious, including goals to build a more diverse cultural workforce; to encourage organisations to reach new and non-traditional audiences through re-interpretation and re-presentation; and to develop new and more representative models of governance, leadership and funding."

The MLA is developing a wide-ranging Equality and Diversity strategy, including a Single Equalities Scheme, aimed at improving policy development and programme delivery across the cultural sector, with further announcements in 2010.


Notes to editor:

1. For further details about the scheme visit http://www.mla.gov.uk/about/who/board/board_secondments

2. The core Board, of around ten members, sets the strategic direction of the MLA, holds the Executive accountable for the delivery of agreed objectives, and helps champion the strategic aims of the MLA. It represents a demographic cross-section of the population and members are drawn from locations across England. The Board brings skills and expertise in a blend of areas, including: local government, higher education, learning and skills, the sector (museums, libraries and archives), charity governance, commercial, legal, and business practice, the City of London and programmes and services for the public.

3. Dr. Atul K. Shah is founder and chief executive of Diverse Ethics, a social enterprise with a website portal www.diverseethics.com to help organisations embrace diversity and experience the positive benefits of an inclusive workforce. He is author of ‘Celebrating Diversity' and ‘Social Cohesion' and has written and broadcast for a variety of media including the BBC.

4. Subnum Hariff has returned to Bolton Council after having completed a successful year on the prestigious Clore Leadership Programme where she worked on a secondment for Creativity Culture and Education and shadowed DCMS's Public Libraries Modernisation Review Team. As newly appointed Partnership and Access Manager for Bolton's Libraries, Museums, Archives and Arts (LMAA) and Cultural Lead for Bolton's Building Schools for the Future Programme, Subnum is working in partnership with the broad cultural sector to offer children, young people and communities, the opportunities to enrich their lives through culture and learning.


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