Mentorships Matter

Broken Hill Regional Gallery may be a small and geographically remote organisation but their dedication to individual professional development is making a big impact on the wellbeing and careers of its staff as well as on the operations of the museum and its institutional networks.

Museums & Galleries of NSW placement program alumni, Blake Griffiths and Jade Kerin spoke to us about their recent mentorships with the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) and shared some insights for anyone interested in applying for the program.

Blake, who undertook his mentorship in 2017, has recently been selected through the Emerging Arts Professionals Program to go to the Venice Biennale, saying “I can’t wait to extend the learning began through the M&G NSW placement at a state level, to one on an international scale. I am so excited.” He described the importance of professional development opportunities in his choice of employer as integral. “It is so important for me to work in a team where seeking experiences, funding and opportunities outside of our operational budget is encouraged and supported. The Broken Hill Regional art Gallery team are kicking goals in this area and huge improvements are being made to our physical facility, but back end planning and organisation.”

This is a view echoed by gallery and museum manager, Tara Callaghan, who actively encouraged and supported her staff throughout the application and placement process. We asked Tara about how she saw the role of professional development within the organisation. “Professional development in small to medium institutions is absolutely essential, especially when the institution is regionally positioned. The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery has been lucky enough to have two staff placed on mentorship programs at the Art Gallery of NSW. This experience has been invaluable not only for the learning that the staff have been able to bring back to Broken Hill, but also for the lasting relationship that has developed with such an important state institution.”

Both Blake and Jade were motivated by the opportunity to challenge themselves and gain a better understanding of the processes followed in a larger organisation. Blake saying he applied for the program to develop a better understanding of a larger institution’s approach to programming, planning and organising collection centred engagement. “I was interested in how this moved from the planning and conceptual phase to being implemented on the ground.”

Interestingly they both also mentioned how the experience gave them a greater appreciation for their own organisation. Jade shared that “There is limited resources and staffing available to us, but when I was able to see what we are able to achieve with what we have it in comparison – it made me really understand and appreciate the hard work put in by my team here.” While Blake pointed out “Working in a large institution for the placement also made me appreciate my current workplace where the effects of my own planning and sequencing can be directly measured and observed because I also facilitate the program.”

When asked about their experiences they both spoke about how the program challenged them. Blake mentioning being thrown some curve balls to facilitate programs and Jade explained that during the placement, there were a lot of times where she found herself in situations out of her normal comfort zone, but with the encouragement and support of the AGNSW, was able to really apply herself to these situations. “by the end of my placement I felt I had gained so much confidence in doings things I would never have even thought I would ever do….  My biggest goal while I was there was to push myself and take any opportunity I could… I really made sure I asked a lot of questions whenever I wanted to know more or when something really interested me – I had an attitude of there is no such thing as a silly question”

Blake Griffiths completed his mentorship with the Art Gallery of NSW Learning and Participation division in August 2017

Jade Kerin completed a tailored mentorship with the Art Gallery of NSW in October 2018 focusing on Marketing and Visitor Experiences

Fellowships, Mentorships and Volunteer Placement program
Applications close Monday 25 March 2019
This program provides travel and professional development opportunities for people who work or volunteer in the small-to-medium museum and gallery sector.

For more information about professional development opportunities from M&G NSW see our Professional Development Program.


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