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Thursday, July 25, 2024

New Opportunities from the Harris:
Call Out for Critical Friend and Project Advisory Group Members

Harris Your Place is the ambitious project redefining the city of Preston, reinventing the Harris as a 21st-century community, cultural and learning space. Scheduled to re-open in 2024, the Harris stays focused on delivering services to the local community.

Following the Harris’ Community Empowerment Guidelines, two new opportunities have emerged to apply to become a part of a Critical Friend and Programme Advisory Group.

With a yearning to be authentic in representing the diversity that is within Preston, the Harris want their community to have a voice, to be involved in the decisions that affect them and most importantly, to know they are being listened to.

Critical Friend: A group or organisation from the Preston community, voluntary or faith sector, to create a supportive group, preferably two to eight individuals from the same group/organisation who can ask difficult questions using critical thinking to judge a situation that needs improvement.


The Harris would like to be accountable to the critical friend as they embark on a journey to be more community focused. In return, applicants will be offered access to training programmes, research trips, personal development and the chance to learn new skills.

Programme Advisory Group: The Harris is looking to form a group of six to eight Programme Advisors who can make suggestions, bring a positive outlook and fresh perspective, ask difficult questions, using their local knowledge and experience to help shape new exhibitions and events that are relevant to the people of Preston.

The group will help select new exhibitions and have a say in what exhibitions, activities and events they would like to see at the Harris. The group will work together on ideas for public events which appeal to the Preston community and share positive, creative ideas and suggestions.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure Services at Preston City Council said:

“We need help shaping the future of the Harris to ensure we are reflecting the voices of local communities as we move through this exciting period of transformation. 

Local communities are of utmost importance to us, their participation and opinions are valued and considered throughout all the work we do. This approach represents a new way of working for museums adopting a collaborative and co-curated approach to our programme decisions to ensure the Harris genuinely meets the needs of visitors and communities. Working in this way will ensure the Harris programme and offer reflects the diversity of our visitors and communities and ensures the Harris remains relevant and cherished.

These two brilliant opportunities will work towards driving a community-led approach where individuals can present their views on how they would like to see change.”

The Harris is interested in facilitating important conversations by listening to the community and talking openly with them to affect change. Both groups should be formed from a mixture of people representing different backgrounds and communities. There is a particular interest in hearing from young people, people from different employment backgrounds, people with young families, local creatives and learners, people from underrepresented backgrounds and people who are acting as local community representatives.

Applicants do not need to have any previous experience to apply for either opportunity as the Harris will support any access needs required. The closing date for both opportunities is Monday 13 March 2023. More information about the critical friend and project advisory group, plus how to register your interest and the application process can be found on the Harris website.

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