New Prospect Heritage Sector launched at AGM

1 March 2024

The Prospect Heritage Sector, which includes branches from some of the UK’s most high-profile cultural and heritage institutions, was launched at an AGM in New Prospect House on Thursday, 29 February.

The AGM saw the formal election of the sector president, Scott McKenzie-Cook (Science Museum Group) and the vice-president, Lewis Robinson (National Trust).

The sector will represent members in august cultural and heritage institutions including the British Museum; British Library; the Royal Academy; National Galleries of Scotland; Royal Botanic Gardens; Wales Heritage and the National Trust. They work across a range of diverse roles such as curatorial, conservation, archaeology and visitor services.

Paula Lamont, Prospect National Secretary for the new Heritage Sector, said: “Building on the success of the Heritage Group, the Heritage Sector of Prospect now connects over 10,000 members in museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. Its purpose is to strengthen ties among members and branches, aid communication, and increase the effectiveness of our campaigning and organising.”

She added: “By uniting heritage branches, we aim for a more impactful voice not only within the union and industrially but also with policymakers and external stakeholders. This is vital to securing the future of our heritage and heritage workers across the nations and regions and will pave the way for achieving improved careers, pay and terms and conditions for our members.”

One of the highlights of the meeting was a discussion with Mike Clancy, Prospect General Secretary, who spoke with the nearly 30 senior heritage reps in attendance on a variety of issues.

He began by giving a broad overview of the state of the union.

“I think the most brutal measure for unions is membership and, just after Heart Unions Week, our membership is approaching 158,000. That reflects a trend of the last five or six years where we’ve generally been growing.

“Therefore, in simplistic terms, we must be doing something right. That’s a tribute to the work of all our representatives on the ground. You are our ambassadors who support our day-to-day activities.”

“You are members of a union that’s capable of mixing up charm and menace. I say that trade union work is an important mix of those two things. We want to get along with employers who get along with us, who respect you as representatives and engage with us on the difficult issues of the day.

“Then, if we need to take tough decisions, to take them in a respectful and long-term, way. But, if you mess our members around, we will be an appalling enemy, collectively and individually. That’s my philosophy.”

Mike Clancy speaking at the Heritage Sector AGM 2024

Mike also spoke about the likelihood of a general election later this year and, although he stressed that Prospect is politically-independent, he did acknowledge that after such a long period of Conservative government there was “a lot of frustration, if not outright anger.”

For example, he pointed at the attacks on workers’ rights with the Minimum Service Levels Act; another attempt to reintroduce fees for employment tribunals and in the way that public services have been desperately underfunded, an issue that the heritage sector would understand all too well.

Although Prospect was not affiliated to Labour, Mike said that Prospect was part of the ‘conversation’ to help them rebalance and make positive changes to collective and individual employment rights – if they win the election, which “was not a done deal, despite the polls.”

Finally, on the election, Mike said, “As a thinking union on your behalf, we need your input to really consider what the priorities are and what we want to achieve… We’re a union that’s very well respected because of the expertise of our members.”

On the heritage sector specifically, Mike recalled:

“I cast my mind back to being out on pickup lines with several of you in 2019, and I still remember the stories that members told me. I don’t think much has changed in the sense that you continue to be highly qualified, committed individuals who are regularly underpaid and undervalued.

“This launch of the new Heritage Sector can magnify the voice of our members in heritage across the union and beyond. We want to ensure that you get the profile, resourcing and all the support that you need. We want Prospect to be known as the key union in heritage.”


From national museums to archaeological trusts, Prospect members are at the heart of our heritage sector.