The economic plight of the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville was not lost on Arts Minister Chris Finlayson during a recent visit.
Mr Finlayson, who is also the Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, was surprised when told the ongoing operation of the gallery was not financed to some extent by Matamata-Piako District Council.
‘‘Facilities like this are usually supported by their local authorities,’’ he said. ‘‘They are an important part of any town’s infrastructure.’’
The minister wants to create a contestable fund nationally for the operation of amenities including art galleries and museums.
‘‘I am a great believer in funding being a third [central government], a third [local government], a third [the organisation involved],’’ said Mr Finlayson.
Wallace Gallery Trust chair Tom Barratt said the Thames St gallery cost about $137,000 a year to run, with more than $70,000 raised themselves in the past 12 months.
‘‘It’s hard work,’’ said Mr Barratt.
‘‘We really do run on the smell of an oily rag.’’
The gallery houses the Wallace Collection, New Zealand’s largest private art collection, owned by Wallace Corporation (Waitoa) head Sir James Wallace.
Run by director Leah Murdhphy, 26 volunteers are also involved in the day-to-day running of the gallery.
Trust members told Mr Finlayson that the Wallace Gallery also missed out on funding from Creative Communities as the gallery was not deemed to be in the Waikato.
The minister said he would follow this matter up via Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch.
Mr Barratt said the gallery lifted the profile of Morrinsville.
‘‘It is a very good space,’’ said Mr Finlayson.
He stopped in at the Wallace Gallery after visiting the Huntly Coalfields Mudhseum, before attending a private function at CooperAitken Chartered Accountants in Morrinsville.
- Piako Post