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Interview with Natasha Clegg, Acting Head of Projects

Interview with Natasha Clegg, Acting Head of Projects

Young woman wearing a red dress standing outside York Minster cathedral on a sunny day

The team at Culture Syndicates bring a wide range of strengths, interests and experiences to their role. In the second of this blog series about our team, Natasha explains what drives her work at CS. 

What was your background before joining Culture Syndicates?

I came to Culture Syndicates almost four years ago now. I joined as a Heritage Assistant, having completed an undergraduate degree in History. History was my passion and I was particularly interested in overseas expansion during the Early Modern period.

Because of my love for History, I was interested in a career in museums but had little clue as to how difficult it was to break into the sector. Although I had been volunteering at some local cultural organisations, I was struggling to support this activity financially and was glad to find some paid work that I could enjoy and that would help me get that all-important experience.

Before working at Culture Syndicates what was the most unusual or interesting job you have ever had?

Nothing particularly interesting at all! I worked in the café at a National Trust site, which was nice purely for the fact of the beautiful surroundings and the friendly, varied team of people that I worked with. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, thankfully) I’ve never done anything unusual for work.

What is your role at Culture Syndicates? – and what aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

My current role is Acting Head of Projects and I was previously Projects Officer. In my role I am responsible for leading heritage projects of all kinds – from evaluation, to audience development, to strategy and planning. I also line manage our team of Heritage Assistants.

My favourite part of the role is getting to work with such a wide range of people. Working on such different projects and with such a varied team of people has enabled me to learn so much and to learn about myself in the process. I’ve really found a passion for helping people learn and grow through my role and I now know that any future role I have will need to have people at its heart.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My go-to in a morning is checking my emails for project updates, interesting news and opportunities. I subscribe to a lot of sector specific newsletters which means my inbox is usually full of new emails.

Since we shifted to home working, my day usually consists of Zoom meetings with time in between for project admin work.

What projects are you currently working on for Culture Syndicates?

At the moment I am leading Culture Syndicates’ Culture Recovery Fund project, kindly supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. I’m really excited to be working on this project, which has enabled us to work with an amazing bunch of consultants to review our organisational structure and business plan. One of the highlights of this project has been attending an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workshop with my colleagues. The workshop was led by Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry (both full of knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for EDI in the cultural sector) and really enabled us to come together as a team to think deeply about what equality means to us and what inclusion should look like at Culture Syndicates.

I am also working on a range of projects with clients, including: the Wordsworth Trust, St Peter’s Church, the Charterhouse and Mrs Smith’s Cottage. These projects are engagement and evaluation based and involve work that I really enjoy, such as interviewing project participants to find out the story of change within a project.

What is on your wish list for the next few years with Culture Syndicates?

I hope that Culture Syndicates continues to support the sector in new ways. The sector and its workforce will look significantly different post-Covid and I think there will be more challenges facing sector entrants and emerging professionals. We therefore have to adapt and ensure that the support we are offering meets the needs of those we work with.

What are your hopes for our industry?

My ultimate hope for the museum and heritage sector is that we continue the momentum of removing barriers at entry-level. I’ve been so pleased to see more organisations offering apprenticeships, paid internships and traineeships as a paid route into our sector.

I think that there is significantly more work to be done at a pipeline level to position museums as an attractive career for people from a wide range of backgrounds. However, the sector needs to ensure that it is an attractive career prospect by rewarding its staff fairly, offering clear progression routes, and of course representing a wide range of people in its interpretation and programming. There are so many complexities and nuances to this topic, but my hope is that we build upon the inroads made so far so that our workplaces look a lot different over the next few decades.

By Natasha Clegg, Acting Head of Projects, and Ruth Gray, Heritage Assistant

Read more of our musings on our news page.

1 Comment
  • David J Hunter
    Posted at 11:52 am, 1st April 2021

    Hello Natasha. I can relate to your comments about how difficult it is to break into the employment market in the museums field. In the 60s there was no such thing as on line forums for museums and many people never got the opportunity to see things outside their home district. This made it even more difficult to find out about other collections at places where you might be interested in working as well as seeing them for general interest or studying.
    I think the internet is invaluable for enabling people to make connections with others who are interested in historical or artistic collections and it has made living through the Covid lock down a lot less tedious than it would have been otherwise.
    You may be aware that the City of Nottingham, where I live, is belatedly starting to develop Nottingham Castle as an exhibition and cultural hub and turn the ugly streets that surround it into a landscaped pedestrian area in the city centre. A lot of the city heritage has been destroyed by re-development, often replaced by inferior substitutes and Broadmarsh sopping centre is an example which is now being demolished. There’s lots of frantic debate going on about what should happen to the site but there may be less pressure to simply build another shooping centre since there is less demand for department store space following Covid and demands for more open space may at long last be heeded. If your schedule allows it, you might care to have a look at some of the proposed development plans as well as the network of caves under the city, gradually being excavated and sometimes restored – there’s a long history attached to these.
    There’s also a Cultural Quarter which might interest you; this is ans area of studios and retail outlets for creative work as well as a regular market and newsletter which would probably interest you.
    Best Wishes,
    David Hunter.

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