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February 23, 2018

NetworkGet to know ICOM: SAREC, support to the network

ICOM’s Standing Committee SAREC is in charge of supporting our members and our committees through grants. The allocation program not only helps individual members attend international meetings – it also supports activities from our committees that are in line with our common goals. We talked with Elke Kellner, managing director of ICOM Austria, about the experience applying for a special project grant.

The heart and soul of ICOM are its committees. To promote their activities, the organisation counts with the Strategic Allocation Review Committee (SAREC), one of the seven Standing Committees of ICOM. Its work is fundamental to ensure that the most significant initiatives proposed by the applicants are funded. To fulfill its mission, SAREC reviews the subvention applications submitted by ICOM’s International Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations, as well as the assessment of the special projects and travel grants.

In 2017, 74 ICOM members were able to assist international meetings thanks to the travel grants allocated by SAREC. A total of 16 special projects also received an allocation, touching on diverse subjects ranging from inclusivity, difficult issues and gender equality to the definition of museum, standards and education.

Elke Kellner, managing director of ICOM Austria, considers that “SAREC’s funds are crucial for projects that enhance international cooperation and know-how transfer”. Austria’s national committee, alongside ICOM Slovakia and ICOM Czech Republic, organised the conference Presumption to Responsibility. Museums and Contested History. Saying the Unspeakable in Museums, a special project that SAREC supported in 2017. “During the year of ICOM’s last General Conference in 2016, the theme Museums and Cultural Landscapes inspired us to seek closer connections with other ICOM committees all around Austria”, she explained. After initial talks with many other national committees, the plan for a joint conference with Slovakia and the Czech Republic started to take shape.

The project was in line with ICOM’s strategic plan aim of enhancing the organisation’s international profile. It also focused on how museums display and present difficult topics, controversial history or traumatic memories, in the same spirit as the theme of International Museum Day 2017. “We wanted to discuss the opportunity museums have to provide different perspectives and encourage visitors to think beyond the scope of their experiences, and how that defines the significant role museums play in our society”, Kellner added. Led by the chairs of the three national committees, the organising committee pledged notable sources to fund the conference. However, since the budget was limited, they applied to the SAREC special projects grant and obtained their support.

The goal was met: the conference, which took place in Brno (Czech Republic) between the 22nd and 24th of November last year, was a success, with more than 130 museum professionals and 40 speakers from diverse international backgrounds attending the event. For Kellner, “it’s essential that SAREC supports the efforts of active national committees in order to reach our common strategic goals.”

Learn more about SAREC and how ICOM supports the network here.