Posts Tagged 'UK museum cuts'

News Update 26 July 2011

Last week I visited Christchurch for the first time since January – and since the most devastating earthquakes. Walking around the barriers around unstable buildings and outside the central city cordon, I was just one of a number of onlookers. Some like me were seeing things for the first time, others were locals, all trying to get a sense of the scale of the disaster and what is happening in the recovery efforts. It was very sad to see so much damage, shops and businesses, museums and galleries closed to the public, and the city so quiet.

However, there are encouraging signs of new energy and momentum. Despite continuing aftershocks, teams of people are repairing, planning and rebuilding all over the city. Cafes are re-opening, parking fees reinstated, and there was even a busker outside Canterbury Museum playing to the trickle of workers and tourists walking past. His recorder music – ranging from ‘La vie en Rose’ to ‘Favourite Things’ – was hauntingly appropriate in the grey winter afternoon.

Canterbury Museum – fenced in (July 2011)

While many museums and galleries are still closed lots is happening. Canterbury Museum is planning to re-open on 1 September. They are working hard on sorting out collections, installing exhibitions and dusting off the galleries to welcome the public back with several new shows.

Christchurch Art Gallery will have to wait until the council and CERA staff move out, an unstable neighbouring apartment block is demolished and various repairs are made to the building, all of which is likely to take until the end of the year. In the mean time they are very busy with collection work and off-site projects. CAG staff post regular news updates online, and their ‘Bunker Notes’ blog is both whimsical and informative http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/news/

current ‘exhibitions’ at Christchurch Art Gallery (July 2011)

The second annual museum sector Remuneration Survey is now underway. Strategic Pay’s survey team has been contacting museums and galleries to invite you to particpate – which also qualifies you for a discount on the price of the report. Following feedback from 2010, some minor adjustments were made to the list of museum-specific positions. Strategic Pay will also be liaising with local councils where appropriate, as all councils now subscribe to their biannual Local Government Survey. The first museum sector survey provided excellent data as well as an overview of remuneration practices in the sector. With more participants and cumulative data, this will become an even more useful tool for museums and for our advocacy on behalf of the sector – I encourage every museum and gallery to take part. You can contact Strategic Pay on 09 303 3045 or surveys@strategicpay.co.nz

While UK textile historian Annabel Westman was here for the MA11 conference earlier this year, she recorded an interview with Radio NZ. It was broadcast on The Arts on Sunday on 24 July, and you can listen to it here.

In the UK, the latest round of funding cuts is biting deeply. The Museums Association has conducted a survey, The Impact Of Cuts On UK Museums, which reveals that one-fifth of UK museums have had cuts of 25% or more. Of those:

•over 60% have cut back their public events
•half have reduced opening hours
•over 85% have cut staff
The MA also reports that over 40% of local authority museums have cut paid staff by 10% or more in the last year. The report can be downloaded here.

I hope to see many of you at the museums and galleries session which is part of the Diversity Forum in Hamilton on 22 August. This promises to be an inspiring and interactive forum exploring diversity in programming and audiences, with a focus on engaging youth. It is also an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with colleagues from other museums and galleries. You can download the flyer and registration information here.

Nga mihi,

Phillipa

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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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