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Manchester Museum announces funding and plans for a new Social Justice Manager

Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester, has announced that it has received significant philanthropic support from Savannah Wisdom to create a new Social Justice Manager role and drive forward its work on family poverty, inclusion and social mobility over the next five years. 

The museum is widely regarded as a leading model of social responsibility within the cultural sector.  It is committed to understanding and meeting local needs and collaborating with others who are making a difference on the issues that are most important to local communities.

The newly created role demonstrates the museum’s steadfast commitment to becoming more inclusive, caring and imaginative. Many of the museum’s most local communities are socially fragmented, experience high levels of poor health and inequality, and are among those most heavily affected by the current and future impacts of the cost-of-living crisis. 11,000 children live in poverty within a two-mile radius of Manchester Museum. The museum’s ongoing work to embed social justice in its practices responds to this.

It launched a pilot programme for the cultural sector, Local Matters, in 2021 which advocates for a different response to addressing the needs of children and families living in poverty.  Led by Dr Carl Emery and Louisa Dawes from the University of Manchester, the programme addresses how poverty and disadvantage are understood and responded to within the museum and through its relationships and activities.

The University of Manchester has held a commitment to social responsibility as one if its core aims for over a decade and the museum says its pro-active approach to social justice and anti-poverty work is understood and supported as an integral part of what it means to be a socially responsible museum and university.

The museum is looking for someone who cares deeply about social justice to fill the new position. They will develop strategic partnerships with organisations, artists and communities, and work creatively to deliver and evaluate new programmes that will make a difference.

Esme Ward, Museum Director:

“Manchester Museum’s hello future transformation is nearing completion, and it has not only increased the museum’s capacity to showcase extraordinary collections, it has also led to new collaborations with the people of Greater Manchester. This is part of our ambition to become even more inclusive and caring for the communities we serve. We are proud of the work we have done but are also aware of how much more there is to do.

“At this defining moment in our future, we are committing to unparalleled collaboration with schools, third sector organisations, statutory organisations, individuals and communities: seeking to create new opportunity and inspiration; helping to raise aspiration and achievement; and providing the practical support that is most urgently needed.

We’re incredibly grateful for the generous support we have received from Savannah Wisdom to create this new role; it will help us to extend the museum’s impact far beyond the walls of the building and achieve lasting change.”

Shalni Arora, CEO of Savannah Wisdom:

“This role will help the museum position itself as a space for everyone and will welcome, inspire and give opportunities to those that would otherwise not have the chance.  We are delighted to be working with Manchester Museum on this social justice programme.”

Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility at the University of Manchester:

“By harnessing the museum’s distinctive position – as one of Manchester’s best-loved cultural venues, that collaborates with communities across the city-region, and is backed by cutting-edge research driven by The University of Manchester – this transformative gift will play a critical role in realising the museum’s potential as a leading hub for social justice in our city.”

Manchester Museum has been closed since August 2021 for a capital development and it will reopen to the public on 18 February 2023.