In November, I was fortunate to attend the NCCPE Engage conference (29 – 30 November 2016) at the Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel. Sessions included ‘Raising the Bar’ which saw Associate Professor Paul Manners (UWE and Director of the National Centre for Public Engagement) and Sophie Duncan (Deputy Director of the National Centre for Public Engagement) award the first ever Engage Gold Watermark Accreditation to the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary, University of London. Community Liaison Officer, Mike Noble and myself also participated in a highly relevant workshop on the lessons learned from Connected Communities projects, which was led by Katherine Dunleavy (University of Bristol). Other sessions that I participated in included a session on ‘Public Engagement as Method in the Arts and Humanities’ as well as talks on academic and museum partnerships led by Carolyn Sargentson (University of Sussex) and museum representatives of The University of Oxford.
The conference concluded with an address by Professor Chris Husbands (Vice-Chancellor, Sheffield Hallam University and Chair of the Teaching Excellence Framework) on ‘Where Next for Public Engagement?’ This was followed by a question and answer session with Kim Aumann (Co-founder and former Director, Amaze), Laura Gander-Howe (Director Children, Young People and Learning, Arts Council England) and Imran Khan (Head of Public Engagement, Wellcome). A recurring theme throughout this discussion was how do universities, museums and heritage organisations address the social and educational issues of representation and access to cultural resources highlighted by the ‘Brexit divide’.
Professor John Beckett also attended and participated in conference workshops.