BY: MADELINE SMOLARZ
The COVID-19 pandemic barrelled into 2020, leaving nearly every Canadian sector at a loss for what to do in order to survive. The museum field was no different. GOEMP Committee members themselves have experienced a range of impacts, like shifting to a work-from-home environment to being placed on emergency leave, and sometimes both, like myself. The GOEMP Committee gathered digitally on April 15th to try to answer the question that rang in all of our heads: “what can we do to help our EMP community?”
We released a blog post entitled “What Does It Mean To Be An EMP In A Crisis?” and the GOEMP COVID-19 survey in tandem on April 29th after much thought and work from the Communications Sub-Committee. We wanted to know more about who was affected, what they were experiencing, and what they needed from us so we could formulate an appropriate plan.
We already knew we had a strong community of EMPs in Ontario; well, you folks showed up and blew us away with your response to this survey. Over the three weeks that it was open, we received 122 responses. For some perspective, the GOEMP Facebook Group at the time of writing this post has 1,302 members, about 1,100 of whom are likely living and working in Ontario (shout out to all our non-Ontario members!). This means that we likely heard from about 11% of folks who know about us through Facebook. Not bad, right?
The data we received painted a clear picture of what EMPs in the province are going through. It also gave us insights into who our community is and how we can help. Some of our key findings were:
- 50% of respondents were in the first 3-8 years of their career (this means many of you are also very new to museums or are shifting into the second decade of your career – congratulations!)
- 55% of respondents anticipated earning less in 2020 due to COVID-19
- 40% of respondents had applied for financial assistance
- 73% of respondents looking for a job said their search has been very or extremely impacted by the pandemic
You can download the one-page report (PDF) with our key findings below.
A long report will come later; as you can imagine it will take more time for us to comb through all of the data.
I should note that because the survey was open for 3 weeks, respondents’ experiences may have changed as time progressed. For example, I know I ticked the box that said I was working from home, but by the time the survey closed, I only had two working days left until I was to be laid off from my employer. And that’s okay! We’re viewing the survey results as a “snapshot in time” for the responses we received.
We met as a Committee once more on June 2 to brainstorm how we could let you know we’ve heard you. After running through the results, the 10 of us determined that we will use a two-pronged approach: Professional Development and Advocacy. This means that the projects we’re pulling together to help, support, and raise up the Ontario EMP community in the coming months during – and hopefully, following – the COVID-19 pandemic will fall under one of those two categories. We’re currently honing in on a couple of big ideas that we can roll out as soon as possible, some of which may be recurring and some of which will be “one-offs” in style.
No matter what the future brings for Ontario’s museums, we want emerging museum professionals to know that we are here for them. We want to and we need to come together to continue to strengthen this wonderful community for the health of each of us as individuals, but also for the sector at large.
There is strength in solidarity. Thank you.