News Update

It seems that museums just can’t stay out of the news! While some of it is not so flattering, there is plenty of robust debate and some very positive media coverage over the last fortnight, online here (you need to be logged in to the members’ area to view).

The debate over a ‘national art gallery’ has been reopened with comments from new Chair of the Te Papa Board, Sir Wira Gardiner, supported by fellow Board member and long-time advocate for a separate art gallery, Chris Parkin. Journalists have had a field day sourcing comments on all sides of the debate from Hamish Keith, Luit Beiringa, Jenny Gibbs, Jenny Harper, Cam McCracken, Roger Blackley, Denis Adam, Rosemary McLeod, Mike Houlihan, Chris Finlayson, and even John Key. While most agree that the way the national art collection is displayed in Te Papa is not ideal, there is a wide range of opinions on the best way to address this. It is good to see informed discussion about matters which affect us all.

Other good news is the rise in discussion – and action – on philanthropy. Creative NZ has released a report on strengthening private sector support for the arts, The art of the possible, downloadable from their website here, and we expect the Minister’s Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce to report back early in the new year. The value of the removal of the cap on tax rebates for donations to charities was reinforced by last week’s announcement of a $500,000 donation to the Arts Foundation by retiring trustee Sir Eion Edgar.

We explored some of these initiatives in ‘Policy Matters!’ in the Museums Aotearoa Quarterly posted to members last week. Other articles report on conferences, Museums Aotearoa activities, profile museums and services, and a ‘favourite thing’ from Wellington City Archives. You can download the Museums Aotearoa Quarterly from the members’ area of our website.

International news shows that others are dealing with similar challenges. In Australia there has been an important legal decision overturning the Australian Tax Office contention that groups lobbying against government policy were not eligible for charity status – providing their campaigning is intended for public benefit, see here

In the UK the government funding cuts and their fallout continue. There has been further uproar over proposed deaccessioning to bail out struggling regional museums and galleries. The suggestion by TV art critic Brian Sewell that galleries should sell collection items was hotly denounced by the UK Museums Association. As the MA’s Maurice Davies said, “It is a bit like selling your house to pay for the hire purchase on your sofa.”

There is also much debate over how the Arts Council England will take on the functions of the Museums Libraries Archives Council (MLA) and its flagship Renaissance programme when the MLA is disbanded. The UK Museums Association has up to date news, and a cuts monitor here and there is an active twitter hashtag (#museumcuts) with people contributing feedback. If you’re on twitter, remember to follow us @museumsaotearoa

Many NZ museums and galleries will have been among the 483 applications for the NZ2011 Festival Lottery Fund seeking a total of over $76.8 million for 570 proposed events/activities, when the fund had only $9.48 available for distribution. Museums Aotearoa was advised last week that we are one of the 318 unsuccessful applications – hopefully some other museum projects will be among the lucky 165 applications supported.

Our next installment of News & Notices in a fortnight’s time will be the last for 2010. December is rushing past, and before the summer break we hope to open online registration for MA11, and have the 2011 edition of the Directory of New Zealand Museums & Galleries at the printer, if not back again. We are also finalising slight revisions to the Awards programme for next year and will be advising you about how to enter.

So we wish you good cheer as we roll on through a busy few weeks.

Ka kite,

Phillipa and Sophie

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