There have been several changes in museum Board membership around the country recently, some highly publicised and acrimonious. While change is often good, it can also signal or result from discontent or disfunction. In Los Angeles, there has been a huge amount of media coverage and vocal public opinion expressed about changes at MOCA. All four artist-Trustees who were on the Board – John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha – have now resigned in protest at the sacking of the chief curator and several others, and what they see as bad decision-making by the Board and new ‘businessman’ director. Among the coverage online are the LA Times on artists’ ginger group MOCA Mobilization, Robert Storr’s opinion in the Huffington Post, and their axing of a major international exhibition in The Art Newspaper.
News here continues of museums and galleries – and other buildings – closing because of earthquake risk, and not only those directly affected by the Canterbury quakes. As well as Christchurch Art Gallery, Akaroa Museum, parts of Canterbury Museum and the Portobello Aquarium, Greymouth’s Left Bank Gallery and History House are on notice. Nationally, the engineering assessments and closures are spreading, with the grandstand above Wellington’s Cricket Museum threatened, partial closure of the Sarjeant Gallery, and the Govett-Brewster looking at additional strengthening when it closes for its Len Lye Centre redevelopment in October. This issue of course affects a very wide range of public and private buildings, so is of concern for all. On a brighter note, we’re looking forward to the opening of the Otago Settlers Museum in December, and several more development projects are underway, including Mangawhai Museum and Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery due to open in 2013.
We have a great line-up for the museums and galleries session which is part of the Diversity Forum in Auckland on 20 August. Linnae Pohatu will facilitate a panel to explore perspectives on youth, Pacific Island, disabled and other audiences and communities in the museum/gallery context. This is a free opportunity to get together with colleagues and come away with some new ideas – and morning tea is provided. See details and sign up here.
Arts Wellington recently organised a forum to explain Boosted, the Arts Foundation’s new crowdfunding initiative. Those who were at the MA12 session where Simon Bowden introduced the concept will know that this is going to open new opportunities for growing long-term patronage. Unlike other crowdfunding websites, Boosted will not offer rewards to donors, ensuring that all donations are ‘charitable’ and therefore tax deductable. Boosted will also enable organisations (and artists and projects) to build their own database. The Arts Foundation Boosted website is calling for registrations of interest so that a range of projects can be developed before its launch in October.
We are always interested in what is happening in other countries, and what we can learn from them. The American Association of Museums’ Centre for the Future of Museums has released a fascinating report, Trendswatch 2012, which explores seven trends which they believe are highly significant to museums and their communities. One of these trends is the financial pressure at all levels of government which is affect tax breaks and non-profit sustainability for many museums. Another is creating community encounters by taking museum programmes outside the institution. While Trendswatch 2012 comes from a US perspective, many of these trends can be seen here, and the report includes links to further reading and examples.
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH) has released a discussion paper on Immunity from Seizure for Cultural Objects on Loan, which asks whether New Zealand should introduce legislation to protect cultural objects on loan from overseas against legal claims; and, if so, what form such legislation should take. The MA Board will be discussing immunity from seizure with MCH at its meeting on 28 August, and we expect to make a submission (due 24 September). We welcome your input, and will keep members informed as this important matter is discussed.
More public consultation is underway on financial reporting standards. As part of this, MA is looking into recurring related issues such as valuation and depreciation of heritage assets. We will keep you informed as this work develops between now and the end of the year. If any members have a particular interest in this area, please contact Phillipa.
We hope that all museum and gallery organisations will take part in our sector survey coming out in a few weeks. And we look forward to seeing many MA members and colleagues at the museum and galleries diversity session in Auckland on 20 August.
Nga mihi, Phillipa & Talei