Chief Executive Report 2018-12-13
WMUK Board Meeting December 2018 - Chief Executive’s Report
I returned to work in November and am currently working part time (usually three days a week) until January, when I’ll be full time again. I’ve enjoyed my first five weeks back but am still getting up to speed on various things so please bear with me!
Programmes and Activities
The Quarterly Performance Report up to the end of October demonstrates the charity’s significant progress towards our targets at this point in the financial year, most of which have already been met or exceeded. Some of the highlights of the narrative report include:
- Ada Lovelace Day in October provided an opportunity to bring into focus our work on gender, with events focused on women in science in partnership with Digital Science.com, GirlsCode (in Liverpool and Milton Keynes) and others, plus a Women of Skye editathon organised through SLIC which was covered by BBC News.
- Technology has been the focus of recent work on the Welsh Wikipedia, with projects including the collaboration with the Dictionary of Welsh Biography over a new interface powered by Wikidata, and work with the Welsh National Terminology Portal at Bangor University, on which thousands of images from Wikimedia Commons now appear following our previous work with Llen Natur.
- Other Welsh initiatives worth mentioning include the National Library of Wales project ‘The sum of all Welsh literature’, which aims to create a Wikidata item for every piece of Welsh literature in the Library’s catalogues (around 350,000 items); and the ‘Wicibroject Cyfoes’ infobox project.
- Through our Scottish Co-ordinator, we are working with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations on a new Essential Digital Literacy Framework. We are also building a relationship with Historic Environment Scotland, which funds many of our current and potential partners in the nation.
- Our work with universities continues, with new partnerships emerging with Coventry, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, St Andrews, Stirling, UCL and Winchester.
- Wiki Loves Monuments proved to be an excellent opportunity to galvanise our communities, enabling us to make connections with many new and existing partners as well as engage established and new Wikimedia contributors.
- During this quarter the work undertaken to refresh and improve our volunteer engagement started to bear fruit, with productive connections made between new volunteers and partners including Halsway Manor, Waddesdon Manor and Watercolour World. We will be exploring this model of working further in 2019.
We are now developing plans for 2019 - 20 and exploring potential new partnerships, as well as committing to various projects. These include:
- Scoping a project with the Horniman Museum focused on their world ethnography and music collections, which have Designated status
- Developing plans for a Wikibase project with the online archive of artists’ publishing, Banner Repeater, who are seeking funding from Arts Council England
- Undertaking discussions with the National Gallery regarding how best they can integrate Wikimedia into their digital, curatorial and outreach practice
- Supporting ContentMine’s proposal to the Wikimedia Foundation for funding to mine the LGBT corpus, in a project called DiveTech
- Agreeing, in principle, to be the fiscal sponsor for John Cummings’s residency at UNESCO in Paris, which is currently being funded by the Wikimedia Foundation
Staff and Board Update
During the third quarter of the year both staff on maternity leave returned, with Karla Marte taking back over from Agnes Bruszik as Programme Evaluation Assistant in August, and my return to work on 31st October, taking over from Sandy Balfour. As well as saying goodbye and thank you to Agnes and Sandy, in November we also saw the departure of Hannah Evans, who was covering Richard Nevell’s sabbatical with English Heritage, as she secured the role as youth outreach co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth.
Daria and I met with Richard following Hannah’s departure to seek clarity on the likelihood of his return to Wikimedia UK. I have asked him to let us know by Monday 10th December so will update the board on this at the meeting. In the meantime I have offered Sara Thomas, our part time Programme Co-ordinator in Scotland, additional days from January to March to help cover some of this role; with specific and time critical pieces of work including the Wikimedia in Education publication in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, the Volunteers Survey, and the Digital Literacy Survey.
External Relations and Advocacy
John continues to focus his work on our online communications, with significant reach through social media, particularly Twitter and Facebook. As usual our extended staff team, including Wikimedians in Residence, had a presence at various conferences and events, as described in the quarterly programmes report.
At a personal level, I very much enjoyed talking to 140 Commonwealth Scholars about technology, globalisation and inequality at their largest annual event, held in Westminster Hall in November. Commonwealth Scholars are all studying at Masters level or higher in prestigious universities around the UK, so it was a great audience to speak to alongside the Global Convenor for the Fight Inequality Alliance. On my first day back at work(!) I submitted a paper to take part in the National Trust and the University of Oxford’s joint conference Women & Power: Redressing the Balance next March, and have just discovered that this has been accepted. I’ll be talking as part of a session on ‘Accessing Women’s History: Overcoming barriers and increasing visibility’. I’m also very pleased to have been invited to give a keynote speech at next year’s CILIP Scotland annual conference, taking place in Dundee in June 2019.
The main focus of our advocacy work continued to be the EU Copyright Reform, as part of which we wrote to all 73 MEPs ahead of the key votes this autumn. Despite a disappointing result, we continue to follow the debate on this and will contribute as directed by the EU Advocacy Director. In November, I hosted a meeting in Wikimedia UK’s office with other open knowledge organisations and activists including Open Rights Group and Mozilla among others. We discussed Article 13, administrative blocking, internet safety and Brexit. A further meeting will be held in January to move forward on some of the joint advocacy activities discussed.
Daria and Stuart attended the Glam Wiki Conference in Israel, while a number of staff attended the Wikimedians in Residence summit, organised by Wikimedia UK and held in Edinburgh, with international delegates in addition to UK-based residents.