Last week, Arts and Business Scotland celebrated their 30th Annual Awards Show. With nominees including national museums, government bodies and multinational companies, we were surprised and thrilled to win the prestigious Enterprising Museum Award, sponsored by Museums Galleries Scotland.
The award was given to us in recognition of our Runrig Project. We’re a small museum, with proportionally small finances. While every penny we get is appreciated, entry fees, donations and the funding we receive from other bodies aren’t always enough to let us be as ambitious and innovative as we’d like. Necessity, it’s said, is the mother of invention, and it was our need for extra resources that led us to create the Runrig Project.
The Runrig Project
“Runrig”, used to describe the way that people in places like Auchindrain worked on the land, comes from the Gaelic “roinn-ruithe”. Translated literally, it means “the common run”, a way of life defined by everyone working together for the greater good – helping friends and neighbours, and receiving help back in return. The activities included under the Runrig Project’s umbrella are very varied. They include the work we do with the Community Jobs Scotland scheme, employing and training disadvantaged young people, and last year’s partnership with the Venture Trust (which you can read more about here). We work with unemployed local youngsters, providing them with training and valuable workplace experience, and every summer, students from universities across the UK and Europe complete projects with us. These are an opportunity to do real, important work, whether that’s developing the visitor experience at Auchindrain, organising events or researching the township’s history.
What links these activities, and brings them together in the Runrig Project, is that sense of working together, of give and take. The work that our students and volunteers do is hugely important in keeping the museum going. Equally, as those who’ve come to volunteer and work with us through the project would testify, they gain a lot from the experience. As well as gaining skills that can help them to move into further employment, the young people who come to us enjoy spending time in the supportive, collaborative environment of Auchindrain. Don’t just take our word for it – universities, schools and other organisations continue to recommend Auchindrain to students and young people looking for work (and life) experience.
Passing down skills for the next generation
The young people who have come to us as part of the Runrig Project have helped us bring the township back to life. In return, we hope that we’ve enriched their lives, demonstrating that museums are for everyone: young people, unemployed people, people with disabilities. Having the Runrig Project recognised by Arts and Business Scotland is an unexpected and much appreciated honour. We hope that we can continue with this now award-winning work for many years to come.