March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Papers: Linking Minority Communities Through The Web

Katie Streten, Channel 4, Tim Burnett, National Museum of Photography Film & Television, and Maud Hand, Channel 4, United Kingdom

The Museum world continues to grapple with the issue of engaging ethnic minority audiences and the hard to reach. The increasing reach and versatility of digital technologies can provide a way for museums to communicate with these communities and bring them into a more relaxed relationship, not only with the museum's on-line environment, but also with more traditional spaces.

Keywords: Ethnic minority, workshop, outreach, collections, Web technologies


One of the British national daily newspapers recently asked readers what it means to be British. Some of the emails are hilarious but this is one from a chap in Switzerland ...

Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV.

And the most British thing of all?

... Suspicion of anything foreign.

According to the 2001 Census, England’s population is more culturally diverse than ever. White Britons remain the largest single group by far, but 13% of England’s 50,000,000 population is made up of minority ethnic groups, with the biggest concentration of that in the Greater London area. In 2004, an estimated 223,000 more people migrated to the UK than migrated abroad, the highest since the present method of estimation began in 1991.

With such a diverse population, the engagement of ethnic minority communities with the national collections of our museums might seem to be a given through sheer force of numbers. However, low levels of engagement of ethnic minority cultures with national museums are well documented - ethnic minorities are less likely to engage with culture via museums than the dominant culture.

Tissier and Singh Nathoo (2004) clarify and confirm the situation: 594 respondents were interviewed at eight different street locations across London and asked to respond to questions about their engagement with local and national museums. Key statements included:

  • Museums and galleries are for school trips, history lessons and formal learning.
  • Museums are for the white middle classes.
  • Museums do not reflect or acknowledge BME groups.
  • Museums should highlight ways that different cultures have impacted on and been claimed by modern British society.
  • Museums have a role to play in promoting greater understanding of Britain's multicultural roots.

This is not a situation Museums are oblivious to.

There was a clear consensus amongst respondents that they are not attracting black and minority ethnic communities and that this is an issue that needs rectifying. (Denniston, Langham and Martin, 2003)

The Code of Ethics for Museum developed by the Museums Association states that museums should “recognise the diversity and complexity of society and uphold the principle of equal opportunities for all”. And there is, of course, a statutory duty for public authorities to promote race equality in the form of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, which extends the Race Relations Act of 1976 by prohibiting discrimination in all functions of public authorities.

However, the situation is improving. In the second of two surveys on the attitude, experience and engagement of England's population with arts and culture for the Office of National Statistics (Bridgwood, Fenn, Dust, Hutton, Skelton and Skinner, 2003), 7,667 people were interviewed, including white people, on their attendance and participation in cultural events and places in England. Just over a third of respondents had visited a museum or art gallery within the last year. For white people the percentage was 36%, but 44% of mixed ethnicity respondents and 32% of black or British black respondents had visited a museum or gallery.

Still, respondents who described themselves as Black African (10%) or Pakistani or Bangladeshi (8%) were most likely to say that concerns about feeling ‘uncomfortable or out of place’ prevented them attending arts and cultural events. (Bridgwood, Fenn, Dust, Hutton, Skelton and Skinner, 2003) Though there is no lack of will or intent in museums to engage with diverse cultures and open collections to them, there remains a negative perception of what is available through museums. Furthermore, there is a perceived lack of engagement by museums with these communities on their own terms and in their own spaces.

Too often museums are seen as culturally neutral, as providing the ‘true’, objective version of history. We need to be aware that we bring our own prejudices and judgments to the ways in which we interpret and present objects and the stories they tell.

Cultural heritage is not static, but dynamic; history informs the contemporary as new cultural forms, expressions and artefacts are created. (Denniston, Langham and Martin, 2003)

Key areas that enhance the likelihood of attendance at museums by ethnic minority communities are subject specific exhibitions, the contribution of incoming cultures to England, and life in the countries of origin. Local history is also of interest as a way of learning about and appreciating an area. Exhibitions or events on these themes are reported on favourably and seen as relevant. (Tissier and Singh Nathoo, 2004)

It is in this context that Channel 4 approached Culture Online with the idea for the ORIGINATION:INSITE project.

Project Outline

INSITE enables primarily ethnic minority users, throughout the country, to create Web sites that uncover and communicate their cultural heritage and the relationship it has to England. Whether inspired by the photography of Windrush from a national museum or a tea set that was used by their own grandparents, participants add their own stories and objects to those provided by museums, galleries, libraries and science centres.

Through free, local workshops, on-line resources and Web building tools, best practice in site design, structure and content has been and continues to be communicated to builders, increasing user familiarity with new technologies. These are made available via for the general public and education communities to enjoy or to engage with for two years from their creation. After this time, users will be able to purchase space at a discounted rate to continue their sites.

Museum and gallery content which communicates the rich cultural heritage of our country inspires people to be involved in the project and provides best practice site examples.

Culture Online is a commissioning and funding body set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2002. Its aims include, to

  • open up our cultural institutions to the wider community, to promote lifelong learning and social cohesion
  • extend the reach of new technologies and build IT skills
  • support wider and richer engagement and learning by all adults
  • promote good practice within the industry and within the public sector in regards to commissioning, process, usability and accessibility

The ORIGINATION:INSITE project is run by Channel 4 with various museum partners to demonstrate the contribution of incoming cultures to England.

Hard to Reach Participants

The “digital divide”, as defined in government studies, encompasses the use of ICT from word processing, computer use and access, to the use of Internet technologies. Ethnic minority groups access and use ICT in considerably lower proportions than white ethnic groups (Hoffman and Novak, 1999; Brent Council, 2001). So it might seem that basing an outreach programme around these technologies would be ineffective. However, part of the aim of the project was to extend access and develop ICT skills through a subject focus that would truly interest participants. The attraction for many participants was the free opportunity of using the Web as an effective personal tool.

Acknowledging the difficulties that many participants might face, we provided lists of access opportunities after the end of the workshops for participants to continue work on their sites.

Partner Museum - NMPFT

The project partnered with a variety of cultural centres around the country, but this paper focuses on the partnership with The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT). The NMPFT is the most visited national museum outside London, attracting approximately 750,000 visitors each year. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The decision to locate the Museum in Bradford was driven by the city's historic contribution to the development of cinema and film-making in the UK, and the desire to make the National Museum of Science & Industry collection accessible to a wider audience. The Museum's renowned collection includes more than 3,000,000 items of historical, social and cultural value, from the world's first negative to the earliest television footage. It also has Europe's first gallery dedicated to digital media and the only publicly accessible Cinerama cinema in the world.

Existing Outreach

The NMPFT’s existing outreach programme is managed by two part-time outreach workers. Story-telling has been effectively used to drive engagement with the museum’s collections. Projects such as People’s War, in conjunction with the BBC, focused on local reminiscence of WWII through audio and visual contributions. The INSITE project was seen as an offshoot of that, encouraging wider access to museum facilities and expertise, developing existing relationships within the community.

One key expansion offered by INSITE was the opportunity to open the collections to workshop participants and the on-line community. The primary collection used was The Daily Herald Archive, which contains a comprehensive visual documentation of the main immigrations to Britain in the 20th Century. Two on-line exhibitions were created by curators on the theme of incoming cultures to Britain:

Headquarters of the White Defence League, Photographer: Unknown

Fig.1: Headquarters of the White Defence League, Photographer: Unknown

Fig.2: Mixed marriage (Negro weds white girl), Photographer: A Tanner

Fig.2: Mixed marriage (Negro weds white girl), Photographer: A Tanner

A selection of images from the on-line exhibitions can be used by participants, royalty free, for the duration of their Web site’s existence. These are available not only to those who took part in the workshops nationwide, but also to those who create their sites on-line only. This is significant because it enables participants to take national history and apply it to their own, adding weight and authority to their stories. It also offers access to and understanding of editorial procedures around photographic representations of history, such as selective editing of images to tell different stories. The project allowed the digitization of valuable images, many of which can only be seen on request.

Project Methods

This section discusses recruiting from minority groups and overcoming barriers of communication, and reviews failures of existing models and the introduction of new methodologies.

Snapshot of Bradford

Analysis of the city’s ethnic mix by Bradford District Council ( found that minority ethnic groups make up 20% of the local population of working age: 34% of those fall in the 0-17 yrs age band, with only 6% in the 64yrs and over age band.

In Bradford, unemployment rates among Bangladeshi and Pakistani adults are up to three and a half times higher than among white residents. These are audiences typically defined as hard to reach and initially proved to be so.

Fig 3: View of Bradford

Fig 3: View of Bradford

Project Implementation

The first of four proposed sets of two-day workshops was scheduled to take place in Bradford’s NMPFT in mid-April 2005. By the middle of the previous week, there was only one person registered, despite a month’s promotion of the opportunity, primarily through the museum’s standard publicity distribution procedures.

The workshop had to be cancelled. This incurred expense for staffing and marketing. Through the efforts of the Workshop Project Manager, investigating the local situation and meeting with museum partners and local groups, various factors emerged to explain this:

  • Existing marketing strategies that serve the museum well with their core audience were not reaching the new audience.
  • Difficulties in establishing a working relationship with Community Outreach Officers wary of external projects or players entering their territory: they were reluctant to share contacts.
  • Some members of grass roots communities were suspicious of these national institutions instigating a project.
  • Disillusioned community groups who’d felt used but not included in previous museum initiatives were therefore reluctant to support anything being offered through the museum, however beneficial or relevant it might be to their particular needs.
  • Over-stretched community workers were too tied up in red-tape to be able to devote the time required to engage this audience.
  • There was insufficient pre-existing personal contact with key community leaders .

New Methodologies

To fulfil the project at all, old strategies were dropped and new methodologies developed, tailored to the communities we were trying to attract. Traditional routes to market remained important but were supplemented by the following to ensure success.

It’s what you know and who you know!

It is important that a key member of the outreach team has a fluid and diverse collection of contacts willing to be called on to spread the word. The Workshop Project Manager had previously done research at Bradford in the School of Peace Studies, trained members of the Bradford Community Radio Station and remained friends with the Station Manager. She also had personal contacts in Hebden Bridge, one of the neighbouring towns, home to an active, artistic and open-minded community. These three enabled us to move forward and increase uptake.

Find recruiters from within the local communities

“A flyer announcing an event carrying any kind of institutional logo, be it a museum or Channel 4, is an immediate turn-off for me. If it wasn’t for Bandele Iyapo encouraging me to come, I wouldn’t have bothered with it” Juan Gabriel Gutierrez, a musician who attended one of our Bristol workshops (creator of

In Bradford, we identified BCB, the community radio station ( and its manager, Mary Dowsin, as local recruiting champions. Not only had the Workshop Project Manager the run of the station’s facilities during her visit, but also the generosity of the staff in sharing local contacts ensured that after one 2-hour visit, she had 15 solid leads for key community leaders as well as invitations to assorted community meetings where she was able to present the project. Staff members distributed flyers, displayed posters and broadcast 4 interviews about the project across their schedules. It was thanks to networks at BCB that we found our external venue, The Shipley New Start Centre, for our fifth Bradford workshop.

Penny wise - pound foolish!

An adequate budget is essential. The personnel time required to make contacts, call individuals, follow up and research is expensive but essential in relationship building: 50% more time was required than was originally forecast. Only this commitment secured the involvement of participants.

It also is important to budget for community led contributions at the initial stages. National museums would benefit more directly from the knowledge of BME communities, were they able to contribute to the maintenance and support of their activities, creating a lasting legacy of connection.

Positive discrimination, but what about the less privileged?

Diversify, a scheme run by the Museums Association ( positively discriminates by affording training and employment opportunities to members from BME communities, currently comprising only 4.4% of museums’ workforce. One such employee, Aysha Afridi, was part of our team at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery ( whose personal connections contributed to the successful recruitment in Wolverhampton.

Ultimately the museums’ workforce will not be diverse in the UK unless the people they employ are from diverse backgrounds. The MA should work alongside outreach and social inclusion schemes to encourage young people from under-privileged BME communities to consider the museum as a potential career path. By starting at grassroots level the MA may be able to increase the number of ethnically diverse staff within British museums and in turn increase the diversity of museum exhibition and collections work. (Afridi, 2005)

Engage community groups and clubs

Making a personal visit to meet with the community group and club leaders is the best approach - be it the 7th Day Adventist Church or the Polish or Estonian club - where you will meet people directly and give them a feel for what you’re doing. There’s a view held that minority ethnic groups are extremely hard to reach. This is not the view of the project. They’re very visible in a city like Bradford … 5 minutes walking up the main street and you’ll pass an Internet café or a community resource centre full of Africans, Eastern Europeans, Australians and Asians.

Act on what you say you’ll do

Minority groups have been promised the earth in the past and will lose interest if you don’t act on what you say you’ll do.

Encourage Preparation and Planning

The following methodology for ensuring participation was essential to ensure effective preparation and participation.

  • Require a written application by e-mail or post - a challenge but essential to the smooth delivery of the workshop. Participants had to first submit an application, either by e-mail or snail mail, outlining their idea, in order to take part.
  • Discuss the idea by telephone - the Workshop Project Manager then telephoned applicants to discuss appropriateness of ideas and if necessary, arrange e-mail exchanges
  • Post or e-mail preparatory guidelines to participants
  • Get a Letter of Commitment signed by participants to encourage their commitment to the course.

(See Appendix I - PDF - for examples.)

Stories, pictures, flyers and other media take time to source and prepare. The aim of the project was for users to dig out raw or developed resources for use on the project. Those Web sites that functioned best were the most researched. Encouragement through guidelines and personal contact helped participants.

However, hours spent planning and preparing participants in advance can seem wasted if the participant cancels or simply fails to show on the day. This happened across the board in our workshops. Over-subscribing the courses might be a way to deal with this - if you have the capacity to host everyone should they all turn up!

Teaching And Training Methodologies


Four of the five workshops run with the NMPFT took place at the museum’s own computer lab. The 5th additional workshop took place at Shipley New Start Centre, a local government owned training facility 5 miles from Bradford city centre.

NMPFT facilities

The museum's computer facilities consisted of two adjoining rooms in the educational suite. The main computer facility had 20 PC workstations on the museum’s share network with high bandwidth connection to the Internet (approximately 2mb, with 1 to 1 contention), 2 workstations with optical scanners, one with advanced image and audio editing software. For demonstration purposes, the room was also fitted with a projector and screen. Each workstation had Internet Explorer, Flash Player, Microsoft Office and Photoshop Elements.

Fig 4: Workshop group in NMPFT Educational suite

Fig 4: Workshop group in NMPFT Educational suite

The adjoining breakout space was equipped with a projector and screen and flexible seating. Between the two rooms, tea and coffee facilities were also available.

Fig 5: Workshop group in the breakout space

Fig 5: Workshop group in the breakout space

Having a projector screen area away from the computers meant that demonstrations and presentations could be made with the attendees’ full attention. During demonstrations in the main computer room, it was more difficult to maintain attendees’ attention, as they would be distracted by the workstations. Initially, workstations were set up in a ‘classroom’ style in rows so the attendees were all facing the same direction. However, in the final workshop the arrangement was changed so that the workstations lined the walls of the room. This meant that during demonstrations, attendees would turn to face the workshop leaders, maintaining their attention. Workshop leaders could monitor the progress over the shoulders of the user and offer assistance.

Shipley New Start Centre facilities

Facilities for the final workshop were similar in number; however, the computer room was split in two (with 11 workstations each), separated by the breakout space with refreshment facilities. No computer room was big enough to fit all the attendees in comfortably for periods longer than 20 minutes. This meant that work review sessions involving the whole group had to take place in an alternative room, which unfortunately lacked any reasonable computer facilities.

Fig 6: Workshop at the Shipley New Start Centre

Fig 6: Workshop at the Shipley New Start Centre

The Web Site Building Tools

The site building application for the workshops’ element of the project was an on-line Web building tool called SiteMakerTM produced by MoonfruitTM and developed using Macromedia FlashTM.

The advantage of an on-line tool is that no software is required to continue working on the Web site outside the workshop and it is very user friendly. The only application required to be installed locally is Flash PlayerTM. Using SiteMakerTM meant that no hand coding of HTML was required and participants could concentrate on story-telling. The application is also available wherever the Web is accessed, overcoming issues around home computer ownership.

The project ensured that accessibility modifications were made to the tool to enable it to produce sites that can be read using the JAWS screenreader. We also used an html-based build tool called ZyWeb. This is also accessed via the Web, but enables visually impaired users to create sites, something that cannot be done using Moonfruit.


Using a familiar, Windows-based environment, SiteMakerTM allows drag and drop functionality on features such as text, audio and graphics. The site structure is dynamic, with a simple to use visual method of controlling page linking and navigational flow.

Fig 7: Sitemaker site building environment, a typical properties box used to control the characteristics of individual items on the page

Fig 7: Sitemaker site building environment, a typical properties box used to control the characteristics of individual items on the page

The application uses a layering method with a masterpage, allowing the user to have one page style across the site, update-table in one click. Each individual page retains a degree of individuality, with various templates such as gallery pages and text pages.

Particularly useful aspects of the application are the resource files with images, animations and audio. Users can also upload files to their Web file space, accessible through the site. This can accommodate document files for download, such as Word or PDF, Image files such as JPEG and GIF and audio/video files such as MP3, Windows Media Video or QuickTime.

Users can style their site however they wish, with template-based colour schemes and more advanced colour and font-picking tools.

Differing Teaching Methods

As with any group of learners there are different needs and therefore different teaching methodologies.

Two key leaders delivered the workshops. The Workshop Project Manager, Maud Hand, has a journalistic background. She publicised and recruited participants and in the workshop assisted the attendees in developing and producing content. Tim Burnett from the NMPFT is an experienced Web designer and IT technician. He assisted users with particular technical issues and handled design/functionality questions. With these skills the two workshop leaders were able to move through the group and aid progress. As well as the permanent workshop leaders, a representative for Sitemaker attended on the first day of each workshop to demonstrate the application. Assistants on work experience, recruited from earlier INSITE workshops, proved invaluable.

The overall approach was informal and personal with the following specific methodologies employed.

Overcoming Barriers to Communication

First, an open, encouraging approach was required. Communication doesn’t just rest with the ability to speak foreign languages. It is only one of many considerations, including baffling in-house jargon of professionals delivering the project; accents - local and foreign; manner and demeanour - the pace at which a museum or media producer operates is in contrast to that of a retired 78 year old Estonian woman who has never used a computer in her life, such as Lia Ottan ( or a teenager obsessed with IT like Luke ( There are also cultural and religious variations which impact on the way participants engage, from their ease with asking for help or contributing in a group, to their particular dietary needs. Taking time to uncover these meant participants felt relaxed and therefore happier to concentrate.

Computer Literacy

Adult attendees from different educational and cultural backgrounds were bound to come with a variety of computer experience. Each workshop had to quickly bring each attendee up to a useful level of confidence with the technology, allowing them to make the most of the workshop time to produce a high quality Web site. It was also important that attendees develop independence in order to continue site development after the workshops.

Low Computer Literacy

All attendees had some experience of computer use; even Connie Galilee, the 91-year- lady, ( had used computers before and could type. No teaching of the basic operation of a mouse or keyboard was required. However, even those with basic computer literacy had never uploaded content to the Internet. Explanation of the following was required:

  • Icons and their meaning
  • File management
  • Internet uploading, downloading and addressing

The accompanying workshop notes, of which there were three, included a comprehensive glossary of terms. (See Appendix II - PDF.)

Moderate to High Computer Literacy

Even attendees with a high level of competence encountered difficulties. They were able to solve basic problems, but as they become more familiar with the software, they began to look at more advanced features or employed technologies utilized elsewhere on the Internet. Moderate to high competency users with ambition and high expectations of the software could be just as demanding of the workshop leaders’ time as those with limited computer experience.

Learning difficulties and interpretation

Attendees with learning difficulties need a different approach from those who just lack experience. One attendee had poor literacy skills and an inability to progress without assistance (as a result of a lack of concentration, common with learning difficulties). The method used to assist this user was to provide intensive, one-to-one assistance. Another was deaf, and so two interpreters were employed for the day to assist him.

Fig 8: Signing at the Shipley workshop

Fig 8: Signing at the Shipley workshop

The language used to explain particular tasks also needed revising. When explaining an activity to the whole class, a follow-up explanation was made to those with lower abilities or learning difficulties to ensure they understand what was required. Yet good sites were produced from this group, not least which included BME groups with learning difficulties among its users. Users with moderate to high computer literacy also required a follow-up demonstration to make them aware of more advanced features not covered.

Workshop Structure

The workshops provided training on the following:-

  • Using Sitemaker
  • Structuring content
  • Writing
  • Image capture/scanning
  • Use of video/audio
  • Linking
  • Accessibility
  • Design
  • Legal issues - Defamation and libel.

It was essential to clarify Copyright of both museum images and participants' work. Partners provided 20 royalty free images, available to all project participants through the Sitemaker and ZyWeb tools. This is a substantial investment but protected by the walled-garden build environments set up by our technology partners. Sites are hosted on technology partners’ servers but promoted and linked to from Channel 4 and the museum partners take no IP in any of the sites. This gives participants peace of mind and freedom to use their own images and stories.

Structure of Sessions

Sessions were structured as follows:

  • Personal introduction from all attendees and staff
  • Illustrated explanation of the project as a whole with context for Channel 4 and the NMPFT’s involvement and Culture Online sponsorship.
  • Sitemaker demonstration on large screen
  • Writing for Web and legal issues, accessibility
  • Hands on practical building with personal attention and occasional demonstrations
  • Daily summaries of intention and progress

Both days were punctuated with refreshment and interaction.

As the workshops went on, the teaching style became more refined. In the final workshop the groups split after the introductory session. Whilst one group learned how to use the application, the other was taken through writing for the Web, planning site structure and the various legal issues which attendees need to be aware of, such as copyright clearance etc. Splitting the groups proved an effective means of communicating.

Results: The Sites

In all, 83 sites were created from the 5 workshops with a range of subject matter from a community and history site about nearby Sowerby to the stories of the Polish and Estonian immigrations and communities in Bradford. There were 105 attendees from the eldest, 91-year-old Connie Galilee to the youngest, 18 year old Megan Blunn ( In all five workshops, representatives from most communities attended: Asians - Pakistani, Hindi, Malaysian, Chinese; European, Eastern European, African, West Indian, Middle Eastern, South American, and Bradford born and bred.

(See Appendix III - PDF - for comprehensive list of sites.)

Fig 9: Serbian history in Bradford

Fig 9: Serbian history in Bradford

Fig 10: Jamaican living in Bradford

Fig 10: Jamaican living in Bradford

Project Legacy

The Legacy of the project is measured in three ways

  • continued relationship of participants with project
  • communicating learnings
  • enabling change.

Continuing Relationships

With participants’ permission, each group was circulated a contact list, including the urls of the Web sites created. Participants were encouraged to remain in contact in order to support each other to complete their websites as well as scoping further inter-community projects. John Poltorak, ( helped Connie Galilee, our nonagenarian, and joined her University of the Third Age. Workshop participants linked to Bradford Community Radio used the radio station as a follow up meeting point.

Where possible, the Workshop Project Manager linked participants from disparate workshops who shared similar interest, both within the Bradford area and around England. This worked effectively for the Polish community with Poles in Wolverhampton sharing ideas with those in Bradford.

Participants were encouraged to use the software help service as well as to e-mail the Workshop Project Manager with queries. Every effort was made to respond to such queries immediately, both by e-mail and telephone where necessary.

Project partners learned about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective operations and laid the foundations for future collaborations. Barriers were broken down as local community out-reach workers began to trust the project partners on the strength of the resultant work and positive feedback from participants. This was tracked and documented.

Bringing Workshops Out Of The Museum And Into The Community

The opportunity to run the fifth workshop in the Shipley Community Centre not only assisted people living near the centre but also forged a fresh relationship between the centre and NMPFT and Channel 4 respectively. It encouraged participants, normally alienated from the museum, to learn about its services and meet some of its staff in less intimidating environment.

Extending Opportunities For Workshop Participants

From the outset, participants keen to develop careers in Web training and the media were given work experience through the project, assisting on the workshops. They were notified of other relevant opportunities, particularly on IDEASFACTORY, Channel 4’s initiative for supporting young people wanting to pursue a career in the creative industries.

After the workshop, using the NMPFT facilities, these aspirants worked on an individual basis with elderly participants to help them complete their sites, as was the case with Dan Wong ( supporting 80-year-old Estonian, Klaus Ratnik and 91-year-old Connie Galilee.

The position of ORIGINATION: INSITE Project Assistant was advertised via the project, and Bradford participant, Naveed Akram, ( was appointed.

Keeping A Coherent Data Base Of Contacts

To facilitate and sustain continuing relationships, a coherent database of contacts was kept of workshop participants, project stakeholders and assorted other contacts. The completion of a pre- and post-workshop evaluation ( provided data of all workshop participants and is stored in a Filemaker Pro database (

Since then, project partners have successfully drawn from these contacts to help them develop other projects.

Communicating Learnings

The ORIGINATION:INSITE site will be available from indefinitely, allowing access to the sites created by the project, including museums' sites, and will continue to be promoted by the Channel on-air and on-site as valuable and intriguing content.

Sites that close after the two-year free period will be removed rather than frozen.

The project will deliver a legacy document that will be available for download and possibly also be sent to anyone who requests a copy on cd in pdf format. The document will cover:

  • project planning
  • technology
  • recruitment and outreach
  • structuring your workshop
  • content and delivery

It is designed to enable museums, art galleries or other community service providers to deliver their own workshops to this kind of community on this kind of topic area. In addition, the project team will be visiting conferences and be available for consultation on the process. Both presentations and documentation will cover the whole project, not simply the relationship with the NMPFT and our experiences in Bradford.

Enabling Change

Through the requirements of the project for accessibility, the two technology partners have changed their software. Though they were required to achieve this under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the project provided guidance and funds to achieve this to a high level.

The NMPFT strengthened links with local communities, and many of the participants who had never been to the museum were given unique access and a personal contact. The celebratory party hosted by the project in the museum at the end of the workshop series symbolized this. Entertainment from among the project participants included hip hop dancers, soul singers and ragtime piano. “I’ve never seen such a diverse group of people attend any one event in the museum before. We need more of this!” (Tim Burnett, NMPFT Web designer)

Significantly, at the time of the party, (October 2005), Bradford had once again experienced racial unrest with rioting in the inner city. As a result, one participant, so inspired by the project, phoned up the local paper, The Telegraph and Argus, to advise its journalists they’d do well to “attend the Channel 4 ORIGINATION: INSITE event at the NMPFT if they wanted to see genuine engagement and cooperation between Bradford’s diverse communities.”


Museums, galleries and archives have a role to play in helping to exploit the new technologies to generate social cohesion, community involvement and participation, and to aid lifelong learning. They can do this by providing content and access to ICT and encouraging their buildings to be used as neutral meeting places. (DCMS, 2000)

For this project, 105 people came into the museum; 68 were from ethnic minorities, and 83 sites were created. In addition to national press coverage, the project was featured on local radio, community radio, and in the local newspaper, as well as being presented to a wide variety of community groups.

The collaboration among the partners of the INSITE project in Bradford enabled all of these things and extends the opportunities for ethnic minority communities in England to tell their stories and themselves reflect upon the contributions of their respective cultures to making England the gloriously diverse culture it is today. In this way, national collections reach a wider audience, and the wider audience can engage pro-actively with museums in a subject area they are self-confessedly interested in - all through the use of Web technologies.


Afridi, A. (2005). The Same Old Song. Museums Journal, November 2005. November 2005.

Bridgwood, A., C. Fenn, K. Dust, L. Hutton, A. Skelton and M. Skinner(2003).Focus on cultural diversity: the arts in England attendance, participation and attitudes. consulted 4 January 2006.

DCMS (2000). Centres for Social Change: Museums, Galleries and Archives for All. consulted 27 January 2006.

Denniston, H. E. Langham and E. Martin (2003. Holding up the mirror: Addressing cultural diversity in London's museums. London: London Museums Agency. consulted 17 December 2005.

Foley, P., X. Alfonso and S. Ghani(2002). The digital divide in a world city: A literature review and recommendations for research and strategy development to address the digital divide in London. London: Greater London Authority. consulted 12 January 2006.

Hoffman, D.and P. Novak (1999). The Growing Digital Divide: Implications for an Open Research. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. consulted 17 December 2005.

Tissier, D. and S. Singh Nathoo ( 2004). Black and Minority Ethnic Engagement with London's Museums: Telling it like it is: Nonuser Research. London: StUF. consulted 26 January 2006.

Cite as:

Streten K., Burnett, T., and Hand, M., Linking Minority Communities Through The Web, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2006: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 1, 2006 at