I talk a lot about empathy in my work. It’s really easy to get into a myopic rut when you’re under pressure – repeating what you believe works or will get your manager’s approval, creating content to please your peers not your visitors, working within academic norms. But it’s really important to try to see things through other people’s eyes. Here are three ways to make your cultural content fresher and more empathetic.

  1. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re planning your experience. How would it feel to be represented in the way you’ve represented them? Is there a chance it might feel diminishing? I’m a middle-class white woman from the midlands – if I only ever saw people like me in special exhibitions, created in consultation with middle-class white women from the midlands, would I feel like I had as much right to occupy cultural space as anyone else?
  2. When you’re planning how to turn your research into a story, how can you give a voice to the voiceless? Are you coming at it from the point of view of those who have always held power? How did it feel not to be one of those people? Where are their stories?
  3. Write clearly, vividly and succinctly. Write to sell your ideas to someone with no prior knowledge – inspire them, move them, surprise them, energise them. Never bore them!

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