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No lights out at Art Gallery and Museum

No lights out at Art Gallery and Museum

Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum will not take part in a national campaign highlighting the cash shortfall in the sector.

Museums and galleries across the country will turn off their external lights on April 15 to highlight that many are struggling financially, and may not even survive the decade.

Owned and operated by Ashburton District Council, the Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum is not impacted and has decided not to participate in the lights out part of the campaign.

This despite being a member of Museums Aotearoa. people and facilities group manager Sarah Mosley said.

“We acknowledge that the cultural sector as a whole is under intense financial pressure across Aotearoa New Zealand and we greatly sympathise with those galleries and museum facilities reliant on grant funding,” said people and facilities group manager Sarah Mosley.

Ashburton’s gallery and museum is funded by rates and financial contributions from council investments, including a budget of $100,000 for capital expenditure funded by depreciation, Mosley said.

“The art gallery and museum will continue to manage their operational costs within the budget provided by the council.

“It receives some support from the Ashburton Art Gallery Inc Society and the Ashburton Museum and Historical Society towards the care and development of its collections.

“Further sponsorship and funding is sought for specific projects such as the Zonta Ashburton Women’s Art Award.”

Visitors can also donate, she said.

The national ‘Keep the Lights On for Museums and Galleries’ campaign is aimed at shedding light on long-term uncertainty.

In Ashburton, the council has confidence in the longevity of the community facility as it has included significant capital investment in the draft long-term plan - $60,000 for a reception and shop relocation in 2024/25 and a $3m reconfiguration of the museum from 2028-29.

“The Art Gallery and Museum is a community facility that directly contributes to council’s community outcome to provide a district of great spaces and places.”

New lights

A recent council decision was to approve the $570,000 purchase of new exhibition lighting for the Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum with funds to come from the arts and culture reserve fund.

The fund, closed around 2015, contains $580,000 so the purchase does not impact rates.

The staff recommended that the renewal purchase happen to reduce the risk of price increases, indicated to be 10% every 6-12 months, from the supplier – with over 250 of the lights in the facility.

Councillor Tony Todd supported the purchase of ‘‘horrendously expensive” while councillor Richard Wilson voted against it because “we should be purchasing them when we need them”.

By Jonathan Leask