letter to the editor 20.7.16

http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/82093057/southland-museum-and-art-gallery-rate-increase-to-cover-100000-increased-operational-costs

It is unclear from the recent article titled “Southland Museum & Art Gallery rate increase to cover $100,000 increased operational costs” what the management/governance conditions were that allowed the Museum’s operational budget to blow out by $100,000 but this should be of concern to council and ratepayers. Using a $100,000 overspend to make a case for more public funding seems extraordinary. The proposed expenditure on two more curators for an institution which serves such a small population is also extraordinary in the New Zealand museum sector. While it is reasonable and necessary to address the cataloguing of the collection, this is a project that should be confined to a particular duration rather than pitched as part of the Museum’s ongoing and usual operations. National funding is available and should be sought to assist in this process. Consideration should also be given to funding a collection review which would address the long-term sustainability of the collection. Throwing more money at a problem is rarely a solution when discussions associated with the overall sustainability of the museum are not being progressed. It would be foolhardy to proceed with such expenditure until there is some certainty with regard to the future of the museum e.g. whether it will continue to serve the wider Southland district rather than Invercargill city for example. This requires the commitment of both councils to analyse the current provision for arts and cultural services throughout Southland and to take a leadership role in charting a way forward.