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Echoes from the 2015 Ecsite Directors Forum

A warm welcome to #EcsiteDF2015 participants at Techmania, Pilsen, Czech Republic, 18-20 Nov 2015
Czech Minister of Culture Daniel Herman delivered a #EcsiteDF2015 keynote on industrial heritage for a prosperous futureJan Alfred Andersson from the Norsk Teknisk Museum urged #EcsiteDF2015 participants to be politically boldIntense discussions on the political role of science centres and museums at #EcsiteDF2015#EcsiteDF2015 participants enjoyed a tour of the Pilsner Urquell breweryChildren's choir at the #EcsiteDF2015 NocturnePlanetarium session at the #EcsiteDF2015 Nocturne

Hosted by the Techmania science centre in European Capital of Culture Pilsen, Czech Republic, the 2015 Ecsite Directors Forum brought together senior managers of Ecsite Full Members. Get a glimpse of 48 hours of networking, peer learning, keynotes and social events.

Pilsen, home town of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and car manufacturer Skoda, provided a meaningful backdrop to discuss the 2015 edition’s theme: “Industrial heritage and corporate social responsibility”.


Four insightful keynotes

Klára Šplíchalová, Executive Director of the Czech Donors Forum painted the picture of a CSR landscape where companies align their giving strategies with their business needs, also addressing a growing consumer demand for ethics. She urged cultural organisations to look for partners and not mere benefactors, and to explore other revenue sources like crowdsourcing and individual giving, also attractive in the eyes of potential corporate donors.  

Jiří Suchánek, CEO of Pilsen 2015, told the story of his city’s and region’s multi-stakeholder rebranding exercise. Pilsen 2015 doubled the average length of stays in town, mixing contemporary arts, popular celebrations, transnational collaborations with Bavaria and the opening of new multi-purpose creativity-boosting venues like Depo2015.

Danial Herman, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, outlined his vision of a prosperous future where industrial heritage and scientific culture play a crucial part. He highlighted the role of science centres and museums in preserving and promoting industrial heritage and cited Techmania’s historic connection and present partnership with Skoda as a best practice example. “Culture is food for your souls. We need it at all times, including difficult ones”, he concluded.

Drahomíra Mandíková, Member of the Board of Pilsner Urquell, gave the company’s perspective on CSR. Inspired by the UN’s Global Goals, Pilsner Urquell’s CSR policy is far from a “nice add-on”: it is fully integrated into its business strategy. Examples include up-front payments for barley and hop suppliers or an incentive scheme awarding water-saving employees bonuses. She offered youth employment as an area for possible collaborations between science engagement organisations and private companies, and urged attendees willing to partner up with businesses to start by understanding what the latter do.  


Three workshops and a new member service on the horizon

Paul Jennings from Xcentuate facilitated a first workshop on partnerships and collaborations. He urged participants to examine the reasons for their organisations to collaborate with others: for survival, higher gains, bigger impact… or even love? Senior Managers worked on the dos, don’ts and conditions of collaboration.

Ecsite Creativity Awards winner Norsk Teknisk Museum from Oslo, Norway, had been offered a session slot at the Directors Forum as part of their prize. Jan Alfred Andersson took the opportunity to challenge attendees to be politically bold. He shared the Norsk Teknisk Museum’s conviction that science centres and museums have a crucial role to play in addressing the challenges of our democracies put under pressure: “We can be safe havens for complex discussions”, he argued. Intense group discussions followed on the political role of our organisations, and participants offered “hot issues” for consideration by science centres and museums: equality in marriage, the one-health concept, our digital footprint, the refugee crisis…

The Directors Forum also gave Carlos Catalao from Ciência Viva, Lisbon, the opportunity to present a new member service developed by his team for Ecsite Full members: Ecsite Move. This online platform, going live in January 2016, will allow staff of participating organisations to book free visits to each other’s venues all around Europe.

On the last morning, the Ecsite team facilitated a workshop exploring possible futures for the Directors Forum. Participants ranked networking and peer learning as their top reasons for attending, and underlined the importance of the Directors Forum as a safe and trusted arena to share lessons learnt, a place to exchange ideas, information and broader perspectives. Consensual suggestions for change included a higher involvement of members in planning and delivering contents; fewer keynote speakers, bringing in refreshing outside perspectives; more workshops; and more opportunities to exchange with the Ecsite Board.


A rich social programme

Last but not least, attendees enjoyed a rich social programme. A welcome reception was held at the Pilsner Urquell brewery on Wednesday 18 November. Participants met the master brewer, enjoyed a tour of the brewery and tasted several beer vintages accompanied by a buffet of typical Czech food. 

19 November was “veggie Thursday”: to reduce the event’s environmental foot print, no meat or fish was served on that day, which gave the Techmania chef an opportunity to showcase his culinary creativity. Techmania orchestrated a dazzling Nocturne: dozens of dancers, acrobats, mimes, singers and other artists took participants on a mysterious journey through the science centre. After a seated dinner, Techmania showed its latest film production in the planetarium. A candle was lit in memory of Sally Duensing at the start of dinner and Ecsite President Michiel Buchel said a few words of tribute.   


  • #EcsiteDF2015
  • CSR
  • Techmania

Director's forum