Last week I was in Auckland for a workshop convened by Creative NZ as the first step in a review of the visual arts and craft/object artform categories. Around 30 people, including curators, directors, artists, educators and promoters, spent two days looking at what and how Creative NZ supports in craft/object and visual arts. We talked about how that fits into the wider ‘ecology’ of support for the arts, and what challenges, changes and priorities need to be considered over the next five years. CNZ staff will now distill all that discussion into draft reports which will be published online in early June. I encourage you to take the opportunity to provide feedback when the draft reports come out, as this will then inform the final reports and recommendations to the Arts Council in July.
While in Auckland I only managed to fit in one museum visit – to Auckland Art Gallery. I found My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia to be very interesting. I really enjoyed seeing the wide range of visitors to this touring exhibition from QAGOMA, including both children and adults having fun with Gordon Hookey’s Kangaroo Crew. This is an interactive for the 21st century, with hands-on activities as well as a series of retro-flavoured video game consoles, all based on a salutary tale of The Sacred Hill. There has been good media reporting and information coming out about the many other intriguing exhibitions and programmes around the country during the school holidays and around ANZAC weekend. I hope they were all as engaging and well-attended as My Country.
Also in Auckland, Lopdell House Gallery is rebranding. When the new gallery alongside the refurbished Lopdell House opens in the spring, it will be called Te Uru, or Te Hau a uru, referring to the west wind that ‘brings change, sets direction and influences the city of Auckland’.
Back in Wellington, the news is full of Mike Houlihan’s appointment as Special Adviser on Military Heritage at MCH. As Mike will not be returning to Te Papa, Arapata Hakiwai will take over as Acting CE while ‘an international search for a new Chief Executive is undertaken’.
One of our ongoing activities is research. This year’s National Visitor Survey is now complete, and participants can access their own and national data. We are preparing a visual similar to last year and it is interesting to see that the data is very similar. In June, a Victoria University museum studies student will be doing more research as a course placement. Lillian Bayly-McCredie will be looking into governance structures and how they impact on museums and galleries. Later in the year we will be reviewing and repeating the sector survey.
Statistics NZ is progressively releasing data from the 2013 census, such as Quickstats about culture and identity. As well as providing access to data tables for the serious analyst, they are producing really nice graphics which make it easy to understand. A new infographic on major ethnic groups shows 74% European, which is very close to the ethnicity of NZ-resident visitors in this year’s National Visitor Survey. Maori and Pacific Island visitor numbers however, are lower in our survey than the general population. On the 27th May another culture and identity module comes out which will be the first chance to access detailed ethnicity, birthplace, language, religion, and iwi data down to subnational levels. Check out who your potential local audience is and see how it matches up to your visitor data – who is coming and who is missing out? To find out how you can use this data, Statistics NZ is running a series of free public seminars around the country from late May to late June.
International Museums day is the 18th May with the theme ‘Museum Collections Make Connections’. MA will be sending out a press release to promote the sector and many museums around the country have special plans to mark the occasion. Our EMP group here in Wellington are even planning their first ‘Museum Hack’ tour to celebrate. Check out the ICOM webpage to find out what museums around the world are doing and the ICOM NZ webpage for a great list of ways your museum can get involved.
Phillipa and Talei