Concerns over Auckland Council's $250,000 review of Auckland's cultural hot spots

Councillor Mike Lee is concerned about an upcoming Auckland Council cultural assets review.
CATRIN OWEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Councillor Mike Lee is concerned about an upcoming Auckland Council cultural assets review.

Auckland Council is spending $250,000 on a review to ensure Auckland's cultural centres grow together, but not everyone's convinced it will work.

Each year the council puts $61 million into Auckland's most important cultural institutions, including the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat), the New Zealand Maritime Museum and the Stardome.

Now, it's looking for greater coherence between the institutions, which are worth more than $1 billion combined, and it will do that through an independent review.

Auckland War Memorial Museum will be part of the review.
PHIL WALTERS/FAIRFAX NZ

Auckland War Memorial Museum will be part of the review.

Councillor Mike Lee said he was deeply concerned and council's track record of reviews was not reassuring.

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"Auckland Council, more than most, should appreciate that amalgamating different bodies into one big organisation does not guarantee efficiency or better service to the public," Lee said.

Every year the council puts $61 million into Auckland's most important cultural institutions, including the the Auckland ...
SUPPLIED

Every year the council puts $61 million into Auckland's most important cultural institutions, including the the Auckland Art Gallery.

He was especially concerned with the special legal status of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and said it might lead to what Auckland Libraries experienced through its recent Fit for the Future restructure.

Auckland Libraries' review, which reallocated resources to prepare for a digitally focused future, was outlined last month.

It led to 74 voluntary redundancies and forced 700 staff members to reapply for their jobs.

Environment and community committee chair Penny Hulse said the libraries restructure and cultural assets review were completely different. 

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She said the cultural assets review would open up possibilities like sharing tickets and premises, making it easier for people to go between the organisations.

It had been discussed since 2015 when council adopted the Auckland's Arts and culture Strategic Action Plan, which aimed to create a culturally rich and creative city, she said.

Hulse said it would make the council's relationship with the organisations clearer, because at the moment it was confusing with different laws controlling different institutions. 

"It's about strengthening them," Hulse said. 

In the meeting on Tuesday mayor Phil Goff said it didn't make sense to have a series of institutions working in the same sphere, yet working under different laws, different funding arrangements and different forms of reporting.

Auckland Museum director Dr David Gaimster said the museum had advocated for a framework that responded to Auckland's rapid growth in size and diversity. 

 "We are ready and willing to be an active participant in the review process," Gaimster said. 

The council's review is aiming to be done by the end of 2017.

 - Stuff

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