Elma Glasgow, the founder and co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk, has just won a national award for her work to connect communities to museums. Here, she explains how the Power of Stories touring exhibition is acting as a catalyst for breakthrough social impact
Ever since her teens, Elma Glasgow has been passionate about anti-racism and equality. So, for the Black social entrepreneur to be named a ‘Radical Changemaker’ for Power of Stories, the touring exhibition of Black Panther costumes, is a beyond her wildest dreams. The founder and co-director of Aspire Black Suffolk has just won the national award at the Museums Association annual conference in Edinburgh, for her work to connect communities with museums.
After being shortlisted alongside Zandra Yeaman for the Hunterian’s Curating Discomfort exhibition and Diana Foster for the People’s Museum in Camden, judges award the 2022 Museums Change Lives ‘Radical Changemaker’ award to Elma for her community engagement work with Suffolk museums.
The judges said: ‘Elma brought together over 30 partners to create and deliver Power of Stories – an ambitious touring exhibition and events programme celebrating African and Caribbean heritages in Suffolk. Elma’s drive to celebrate Black heritage in Suffolk has created opportunities for thousands of people to connect, understand, and explore previously exclude histories. Seeing the need for museums to change, Elma founded ‘Aspire Black Suffolk’, a community interest company which supports museums to connect and collaborate with local Black communities.’
After being nominated by Eleanor Root, Collections and Learning Curator at Colchester + Ipswich Museum Service, Elma’s award recognises and celebrates outstanding practice by UK museums delivering social impact. They promote the best examples of work by museums and individuals that support communities and engage with contemporary issues.
Elma won a framed certificate, award and a cash prize of £500 on the night. She says: ‘I’m so humbled but thrilled to win the award, especially as the other women in the shortlist are so amazing. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I’d be earning a living from work I’ve been passionate about since my teens: anti-racism and equality. Let alone winning a top award for it! I sincerely hope this national recognition will help Aspire Black Suffolk grow its positive social impact by working with more organisations in the arts, culture, heritage, schools, universities and with clients in other sectors.
She adds: ‘I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me, Aspire Black Suffolk and Power of Stories on this journey. To name a few: Arts Council England, Aspire’s co-directors, Association for Suffolk Museums, Britten Pears Arts/ Red House, Ipswich Museums, Marvel Studios, Suffolk County Council, the Food Museum and, of course, the Black community and our allies.’
Featured image: Elma Glasgow receiving the Radical Changemaker Award (© Museums Association)