This is a guest post from Carol Scott, editor of ‘Museums and Public Value: creating sustainable futures’. It was originally published on Carol’s website Carol Scott Associates.
I decided to begin this blog by focusing on a project which has been my passion for the last two years. In May this year, I published a book titled ‘Museums and Public Value: creating sustainable futures’. Contributing authors from the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand worked with me, sharing their expertise and insights on a range of subjects related to public value.
I wanted to do the book because it seemed to me that Mark Moore’s theory and model of Public Value speaks to our time and, particularly to the role of museums in creating positive social change.
Let’s start with some definitions.
‘Public Value’ is defined as activity undertaken in the general public interest and realised in the public sphere. For Moore, the creation of public value should focus on ‘unmet social needs’ – conditions to be ameliorated, problems to be solved and rights to be vindicated (Moore 2007). This directs us towards compelling social issues of race, class, cultural identity, equality and our relationship with the natural world.
And who is the public? The defining characteristic is that it refers to people in their role as citizens with an interest in issues affecting our common good.
Museums can create value that contributes to the common good. But value creation does not happen in a vacuum. Museums are part of a universe of relationships that have a stake in the value we create. Moore has developed a ‘strategic triangle’ (1995) that maps the relationship between three major players in the creation of public value.
(a) The first is what he calls the authorizing environment, policy makers, funders and stakeholders who have the power to grant or refuse approvals and to provide or withhold funding for work that we want to do;
(b) The second is the operational environment (in this case, the museum) – where the combined forces of mission, purpose, leadership, planning, human resources, collections and funding can be directed to create and deliver value and
(c) The third is the public, those citizens who are the recipients of the value museum create but who can also be co-producers in the creation of value.
Moore’s model of Public Value is not only helpful in mapping this universe of relationships. It is based on a set of principles that merit our attention:
- It appreciates that today’s public sector organisations work within a dynamic and changing environment
- It acknowledges that museums do not work in isolation. We are connected – to funders, stakeholders, policy makers and the public – and we owe each of them varying levels of accountability
- It focuses on the goals that we hold in common as citizens
- It recognises that the creation of public value is intentional and involves conscious decision-making
- It views our leaders as proactive stewards of public assets, capable of directing those assets purposefully to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.
In the next few weeks, you will meet some of my Museums and Public Value co-authors. They will be guest bloggers on a range of subjects that address issues of public value creation from the museum point of view. Watch this space!
About Carol Scott:
“My passion as a museum consultant is to see the value of museums recognized by important decision-makers and celebrated by the public.”
Carol A. Scott lives in London and works with museum leaders in the UK, Europe, North America and Australasia, using value as a core concept in planning, branding, audience engagement, measurement and funding. She is recognised internationally for her expertise in this area and is in demand as a conference presenter and thought leader. Her writing on museums and value has been published in Curator: The Museum Journal, Museum Management and Curatorship, Cultural Trends and the International Journal of Arts Management.
Contributing authors: Mark L. Weinberg; Kate Leeman; Randi Korn; Mary Ellen Munley; Mike Houlihan; Ben Garcia; David Spence; Tom Wareham; Caroline Bressey; June Bam-Hutchison; Annette Day; Lisa Conolly; Marsha L. Semmel; David O’Brien; Sharon Heal; Joanne Orr.