Rising costs and funding shortfalls leave museums and galleries vulnerable
Rising costs are hitting New Zealand’s museum and gallery sector hard, with many struggling to maintain collections and pay staff following the loss of visitor revenue during the pandemic.
Museums Aotearoa, the peak body for the museum and gallery sector, says the current local government funding model does not reflect the contribution from the sector and puts undue pressure on ratepayers.
“The traditional way of quantifying value for museums and galleries – by visitor numbers – no longer makes sense,” says Museums Aotearoa CEO Adele Fitzpatrick.
“If we want to secure a future for museums and galleries, we must move away from the headcount at the door mentality.
“Today we are releasing research, produced by BERL, that reveals the hidden value of Aotearoa’s museum and galleries sector,” Museums Aotearoa CEO Adele Fitzpatrick says.
The report; “The value of museums and galleries in Aotearoa” commissioned by Museums Aotearoa and produced by BERL, found museums and galleries are responsible for caring for 45 million items with a total value of $3.6 billion.
“This research quantifies what has previously been unquantifiable – the true value of the museum and gallery sector and its contribution to Aotearoa,” says Adele Fitzpatrick.
BERL sets out the total value of the sector based on metrics that consider cultural value, social value and environmental value alongside economic value. That means holding up traditional measures of value like collection size and revenue alongside principles like access, education and public amenity to name a few.
“The way we fund museums and galleries needs to reflect the weight of responsibility we entrust to them – the care and curation of our most precious taonga. But it also needs to reflect the economic impact museums and galleries have through tourism, employment of over 5,400 people and a significant contribution to GDP.
“The research demonstrates galleries and museums are very much part of the economic engine,” Adele Fitzpatrick says.
“Any business with an asset base this size would be able to return significant profits. That is not the case for the gallery and museum sector, which delivers a critical public good.
“At a time when the cost of living is sky rocketing, it is so important that people have places they can visit that enrich them, places that educate, inspire and excite the next generation of New Zealanders.
“We are calling on Central and Local Government to create a sustainable funding model that recognises the job we give our museums and galleries and the many benefits they provide.”
Listen to Museums Aotearoa CE Adele Fitzpatrick on Morning Report, RNZ
Read André Chumko's article on Stuff
Read RNZ's article on our Research
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage provided support for this report through the Arts and Culture COVID Recovery Programme