This report about Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) awareness from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council in the United Kingdom attempts to better understand the needs of the existing and potential heritage audience.
The initial step was for the researcher & author (Esther Morrison) to consider the available published data on users and non-users of heritage (and cultural amenities) and to determine whether the age, scope and location of this data collection required
• any research to be duplicated (to update or to make more geographically relevant) or
• whether there was an absence of information and therefore research would need to be designed ‘from scratch’.
One of the noticeable current knowledge gaps was local and detailed information about the Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) community in relation to culture. Heritage Services needed to compile a profile of BME users and non users in terms of:
1. Socio-Economic Profile
2. Behavioural Profile
3. Attitudinal Profile
to provide a basis on which to build and develop user and non user intelligence and develop actions to reach community segments.
Combating social exclusion is one of the Government’s highest priorities and museums, galleries and archives have a significant role in helping to do this. They are often the focal point for cultural activity in the community, interpreting its whole history and heritage. These activities help to give people a clearer sense of their own identity and community membership.
Research in other major UK cities (primarily London and Birmingham) has shown that a high proportion of BME residents are negatively inclined or indifferent to local heritage and perceive museums as being too formal, exclusive and specialist to be relevant to their lives. By investigating barriers to use of SMBC’s heritage attractions within our own BME community, we hoped to identify areas where action is possible and to develop marketing and educational strategies to meet the needs of a greater proportion of the community than is currently benefiting from the service.
Vector Research Limited, who run Birmingham’s City Living Panel (which contains approximately 600 individuals from ethnic minority communities), were kind enough to provide copies of their Self Completion and Face to Face questionnaires which had been used in 2002 for a BME Segmentation Survey and to give permission for them to be modified for use by Stockport Heritage Services.