at our March evening meet up we met to pool our resources - networks we recommend for peer-to-peer advice and support. We came up with two lists. The first one is networks that many of us can?/should?/may? join, the second is networks for freelancers only, as they can have specific needs:
1. 'sometimes I want to talk to other learning, engagement, and interpretation people'
Here is where the Scottish Learning Group comes in, as we bring together people from different sectors and settings. We run workshops, mini learning journeys and evening meet ups. To find out when our next events are: join us (via a pop up form), keep an eye out on our events page and @ScottishLearn feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
We recommend the following but note that many of them come with a yearly cost, in which case we listed individual costs only, so do look on their websites for concession, organisational memberships etc. Prices current as of March 23, 2019. (The Scottish Learning Group doesn't have costs - it's free to join and attend...just saying).
Visitor Studies Group (VSG) 'brings together a diverse community of visitor studies professionals working in a range of sectors'. Cost: £40/year for individuals. Twitter @visitorstudies We enjoy the active and interesting email group for members.
BIG STEM Communicators Group 'is the skills sharing network for individuals involved in the communication of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects'. Cost: £30 (note this can be included as part of your attendance fee of their yearly BIG event). Their next BIG event is July 17-19 in Edinburgh. It looks amazing!!!! Twitter: @BIGchats We enjoy their email list (very current and topical, especially if you run sessions), a newsletter and excellent resources (e.g. child protection) in the online Members area.
Association Heritage Interpretation (AHI) 'aims to promote excellence in the practice and provision of interpretation and to gain wider recognition of interpretation as a professional activity'. Cost for Associate Membership £62. Twitter: @AHI_Social We enjoy: thier yearly big event and their email list.
Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) 'the membership organisation for the best visitor attractions in Scotland'. Cost - none - it's not open to individuals. Twitter: @ASVAtweets We enjoy: thier website for news on the sector and jobs' listings.
ScotPEN 'is a meeting point for everyone with an interest in public engagement in Scotland'. We enjoy: the closed Facebook Group for answering and posting questions, finding out about research behind engagement.
Engage Scotland 'represents the Scottish body of Engage members, responding to training and networking needs within gallery education with a Scottish focus'. They are the go-to for learning and engagement in galleries in Scotland. Cost: £45 Twitter: @engagescotland We enjoy meeting with the Scottish coordinator and Engage members.
Creative Scotland and Education Scotland are supporting local authorities across Scotland to create Creativity Learning Networks (CLNs). Find yours via the Creativity Portal (and have a click about on there - it is awesome!)
Scottish Peer Education Network (SPEN) is worth joining for the personal support from Elaine, the newsletter and yearly events around peer education projects, specifically projects around facilitating young people to do peer education.
Group for Education in Museums (GEM) 'GEM is for everyone interested in learning through museums and heritage'. It has a resources portal and a fab email list that you can access for free, as well as member benefits like a lovely journal, case studies and regional groups. Cost: £54/individual Twitter: @GEM_Heritage
Scottish Museum Federation for sharing knowledge and information across GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives and museums). We enjoy their yearly big conference - this year's is soon: The Moral Museum - April 17th 2019 Cost for yearly membership is: £12 Twitter: @ScottishMuseums
Museums Galleries Scotland ' is the National Development Body for the Scottish museums sector.' Network-wise there is the Strategic Learning Platform. We enjoy: their Strategic Learning Platform events. Twitter: @MuseumsGalScot
2. 'sometimes I want to talk to other freelancers about freelancing'
The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE - said 'ip-see') is 'the home of freelancers and the self-employed' and is where you go for practical questions about things like taxes, and to get support. They filter out all the noise to bring the information you need to know as a freelancer (e.g. intellectual copyright). Twitter: @teamIPSE
Museum Freelance Network (MN) 'A volunteer-run network set up to support and champion freelancers and consultants working with museums, galleries, archives, libraries, and heritage sites.' MN came up a lot in our discussions as a great place to start. They have a fantastic LinkedIn group and Twitter feed. Twitter: @museumfreelance
Thinking outside the box here: could you set up your own network for freelancers? Club with your contacts that you know are good? Maybe work together in a Maker Space or incubator/hot desk? Check out how Scottish Storytelling Centre has set up booking a storyteller - could you do something like this for freelancers in your area? Also check out the young freelancer programme at the London Transport Museum.
-Becca is Learning Wayfinder of the Scottish Learning Group and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org