It’s acquittal time again and in crunching our numbers we have discovered some noteworthy arguments for the benefit of operational investment by funders, such as the Australia Council, in the small to medium sector.
As the debate continues, our own findings are a testament to the opportunities multi-year, operational investment provides for an organisation, such as Museums & Galleries of NSW (M&G NSW).
It allows us to leverage private and public support for the programs and activities we run and for what we do, helping the museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres of NSW create exciting and inspiring experiences for visitors and strong, thriving local communities.
The past five years of critical operational support has enabled M&G NSW to deliver a high quality and well-resourced touring exhibition program of contemporary art to regional and public NSW and Australian galleries – a program of ground-breaking contemporary visual art, craft, new media, design and social history exhibitions that has been seen by over 875,000 people across the country. During this time we have toured 24 exhibitions to 76 separate galleries, art centres, museums and contemporary art organisations Australia wide, stopping 131 times and increasing our reach to Western Australia, South Australia and Far North Queensland. We toured the work of 341 living artists, who were all paid fees at or above industry standards for the loan of 575 works of art.
Funding has also allowed us to deliver associated activities, opportunities and resources for the NSW and Australian gallery sector such as high quality publications, education and interpretative material as well as developing skills, connecting staff with others in the industry, providing funding and pointing visitors their way. 61,636 students engaged in educational programs associated with education resources provided and 1,893 workshops, talks, tours and other events were held in conjunction with our exhibitions for people of all ages.
More significantly, core operational support has allowed us to increase our fundraising, injecting over $1million into new projects, programs and activities for the benefit of the NSW and Australian gallery sector. These include exhibition project grants for the tour of artist led projects or major surveys such as In-Habit: Project Another Country, Justene Williams: The Curtain Breathed Deeply, Soft Core and the forthcoming David Griggs: BETWEEN NATURE AND SIN. And funding for the Dobell Exhibition Grant for creative exhibition development in the regions, the Artist or Curator Residency program for Australian regional galleries, and the National Touring Initiative, which, in partnership with our NETS Australia colleagues, saw the development of the highly successful online National Exhibition Register for touring exhibitions of all shapes and sizes and the ongoing national tour of thePeople Like Us exhibition.
In developing and delivering these projects we have been honoured to work with the partners of such calibre– the artists, curators and producing and presenting organisations whose commitment to developing their exhibitions for tour, despite the considerable additional workload and burden this often entails, has been unflagging. We are deeply thankful for their generosity of time and spirit. Also to our partners and supporters who have believed in our ability to deliver quality programs of benefit to our sector colleagues, whose positive impact on local communities is immense – creating jobs, educational and volunteering opportunities for many ages and community excitement and pride. We thank them for their trust and foresight.
Touring regional galleries until 2019 by Museums & Galleries of NSW, Moving Histories // Future Projections is to be applauded for making available to regional audiences a challenging and heterogeneous selection of works. - Chari Larsson, Artlink Magazine, March 2017
Our challenge for the future is to maintain and indeed strengthen these outputs in an unstable funding climate. We remain hopeful that recent announcements on the return of funds from the now defunct Catalyst program to the Australia Council will in the short to medium term be applied to the benefit of the small to medium arts sector.