Co-Learning Labs 2021

Take part in Co-Learning Labs

If you would like to learn more about our Co-learning labs, want to host a lab yourself or propose a topic; please do not hesitate to get in touch

We are excited to present a new monthly BIE Network event that we are calling the Co-learning Lab. Co-learning labs are laboratories of around an hour hosted by one of our members who will decide on a topic and provide a ten-minutes input, which will be followed by an open, informal learning session. We strongly hope that this offer will allow for in-depth discussion and mutual learning on topics that BIE Networkers in different parts of the world care about, but might otherwise not have a chance to discuss in more detail. In order to make this event easy for you to remember, we are trying to block the last Thursday of each month at 3 pm CET – but surely there will be exceptions to this rule so please mark your calendars accordingly and please register timely not later than 3 days prior to the lab. The labs will be Zoom conferences and registered participants will receive the link prior to the respective lab.

August 26, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Public history, divided societies and trusting communities with their own truths

What is the role of museums and heritage institutions in contributing to, mediating and/or supporting communities in telling their own stories? When it comes to core curatorial business, museums and heritage institutions are not good at sharing. Often museums ask people to contribute their stories to exhibits and activities, but do not always create space for a true handing over of the reins, trusting people with their own truths. At worst, this can amount to a kind of cultural asset-stripping, where museums exploit communities for their stories and give nothing in return. 

It can be transformative for audiences to hear stories told in ways we recognise, and creates a sense not just of belonging, but of ownership. Museums carry a heavy and difficult legacy of institutional power. How can we create space without dictating how it will be filled? How can we make room for groups whose stories have been marginalised, suppressed and unheard? Drawing from examples of work in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and Ireland, this co-learning lab will explore the challenges of bringing communities into institutional spaces without offloading onto them the cultural labour of coming to terms with the flawed stories the sector has told in the past. What is the job of heritage/museum professionals in providing all audiences with the space and the tools to hear as well as be heard, and to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Host: Dr Dominique Bouchard is Head of Learning and Interpretation at English Heritage where she leads on interpretation, art commissioning, digital curatorial, learning, publishing, and national youth engagement across more than 420 historic buildings, monuments and sites. She received her doctorate from Oxford University in Classical Archaeology, she has spent 15 years leading exhibitions and learning programmes in museums globally. Dominique is an academic, curator and educator, with particular expertise in contested histories and divided societies, including Northern Ireland and Hong Kong, and her published work focuses on curatorial practice, interaction design, and community engagement in divided societies.

Please register

September 30, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Post-colonialism and federal arts funding bodies: An Australian case

Since the arrival of colonial-settlers in Australia over 200 years ago, Aboriginal peoples have been subjected to a policy of oppressive practices. While many oppressive practices are still in place, shifts took place from the 1970s. The emergence of contemporary Aboriginal arts in 1972 paralleled the establishment of the Australia Council for the Arts, the federal government’s arts funding and advisory body, and their Aboriginal Arts Board are two and pertinent to this topic. Both the Australia Council for the Arts and the Aboriginal Arts Board are examined in this presentation by analysing their annual reports over 47 years, from the first annual report in 1973 until the most recent one available in 2020. This presentation reveals whether the representation of Aboriginal arts and artists keeps pace with shifts in understanding by colonial-settler society, Australian arts funding and artistic leadership. It reveals the stories behind images in annual reports and what they tell us about regard for Aboriginal arts and artists in the Australian government’s major arts and cultural policy-making body.

Suggested reading:

Australia Council for Arts. (2017). Domestic Arts Tourism: Connecting the Country, viewed 18 February, 2020 <>.

Australia Council for Arts. (2015). Building Audiences: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts .

Australia Council for Arts. (2015). Arts Nation: An overview of Australian arts .

Rentschler, Lee & Subramaniam (2021) Calculative practices and socio-political tensions: A historical analysis of entertainment, arts and accounting in a government agency Accounting History 26(1), 80-101.


Ruth Rentschler is Professor of Arts & cultural Leadership in UniSA Business, University of South Australia. She is a management scholar in the context of arts and culture, with a history of research excellence demonstrated by her quality national and international grants, journal publications and leading of national and international research teams, while developing an international profile as a researcher. She is Deputy Chair of the board of Australian Dance Theatre. She has served on the boards of numerous arts organisations over time. She has received various honours and awards, such as Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Service to the Community, Best Doctoral Supervisor Award, Cutting Red Tape Award, and an Order of Australia for services to education, the arts and the community.

Please register

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