Digital volunteers set to make big impact for Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust

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Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust has been awarded £26,990 of National Lottery funding to launch a digital volunteering initiative and break down barriers to heritage.

Today’s funding is part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, which aims to raise digital skills and confidence across the whole UK heritage sector.

Seventeen projects have been awarded funding to create digital volunteering opportunities, supporting volunteers to develop and contribute their digital skills. Some opportunities will be offered online – removing barriers such as place, mobility, time commitments and confidence in returning to in-person activities due to the pandemic.

In turn, heritage organisations will gain the perspectives and skills of ‘at distance’ and on-site digital volunteers including many who may not have had the chance to volunteer before. The impact of the new volunteering opportunities and ways of working will be shared across the heritage sector.

Ros Kerslake, CEO at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting and sharing the UK’s heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players we are delighted to support these trailblazing projects, including the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust as they create exciting new digital volunteering opportunities, helping to break down barriers and inspire the sector to get even more people involved in the heritage they love.”

This NLHF funding will enable RPMT to recruit and train at least 50 new volunteers to bring new digital experiences to our museums. Working with academics from the University of Brighton and other local partners, we will train them in new skills such as narrative design, audio editing and interview techniques. In addition to learning new skills, these volunteers will help bring our museums to life with new approaches to storytelling.

The project will focus on creating two new visitor experiences. One will be a new audio guide for Preston Manor, supporting volunteers to explore the history of the Stanford family who once lived there, the servants who kept the home running, and its infamous reputation as Brighton’s most haunted house. In Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, our volunteers will support the expansion and enhancement of a One Minute storytelling app. Developed in collaboration with the IT University of Copenhagen, this ground-breaking app uses artificial intelligence to recognise exhibits from snapshots taken by visitors’ mobile phones, and present bite-sized stories about their hidden histories.

CEO of Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust Hedley Swain said: “The Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust is incredibly grateful to the National Heritage Lottery fund for giving us this opportunity. The last year has shown us how essential digital skills are and how important digital technology can be as a means of communicating culture and heritage. We also want to work far more closely with individuals and communities in Brighton & Hove and help improve digital skills and our two projects will make a major contribution to this”.

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