M&G NSW | Engagement & Reach
Museums & Galleries of NSW runs a variety of programs focused on developing, supporting and celebrating the museums and galleries sector, and those who work in it. Our programs range from professional development and skills development; connecting organisations with industry leaders; events with artists and creative practitioners; and our annual IMAGinE Awards. We are committed to providing resources, tools, workshops, and training to the small to medium sector to aid with audience participation, professional development, community engagement and practical learning.
We are able to reach communities nationally in a meaningful way by pairing engagement and outreach opportunities with our Touring Exhibitions Program, for which we currently have 8 exhibitions on the road and 4 in the advanced development stage.
Part of M&G NSW's program always includes meaningful exhibitions, resources, and programs developed in regional areas being delivered to regional communities, people and places.
EMBEDDED COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS & PARTICIPATION
At M&G NSW, we have been modifying our measures of success for touring exhibitions by also considering embedded community connections that extend beyond the time-period of a tour. Examples of this kind of deep engagement and impact include:
- Facilitating regional and public institutions to acquire artworks presented in Void .
- Curator Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s commitment to travel to each location along the Suspended Moment tour to curate the exhibition in collaboration with the venue staff at a peer-to-peer level, taking the unique architecture and communities of each gallery into consideration. This has lead to The Glasshouse Regional Gallery in Port Macquarie partnering with Mudie Cunningham on another exhibition (still in development).
- Collaborating with Samstag Museum of Art in SA to train students at their affiliated University in the breathing techniques required to perform Mel O’Callaghan’s Respire, Respire. This meant that Samstag was able to have multiple performances and the students gained a new creative practice.
- Adding dedicated funding for each location on the OCCURRENT AFFAIR tour that can only be paid to First Nations collaborators in the delivery of public programming, as to promote engaged employment opportunities and remunerated experience for local First Nations professionals. This was in response to the feedback from the Void tour where First Nations installers were identified and engaged for each iteration, which led to new meaningful relationships being formed for many of the institutions.
- Extending the presentation for Just Not Australian at Caboolture Regional Art Gallery to include an expanded version of Eric Bridgeman’s contribution to the show as he is local to this community.
- Delivering specifically designed Mediation workshops to front-of-house, education, curatorial and volunteer staff along the Just Not Australian and the Mel O’Callaghan tours to explore this strategy in the context of specific exhibitions and to empower staff members.
Part of M&G NSW’s attraction to touring Anna Louise Richardson | The Good is the potential for embedded community connections. The exhibition will engage each and every venue with the community gathering component of the tour, as well as the extensive education and mediation offering. There is also the potential to connect Richardson with local artists, either in a co-mentorship capacity, or through the co-design of locally-led programming. Wagga Wagga Art Gallery have already begun a co-mentorship program with local artist Julia Roche who has similar conceptual themes in her artistic practice and will then exhibit alongside The Good at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery next year. The artists have met online and in-person in Wagga Wagga (images below). This will provide a template for regional artist-to-artist relationships that will be possible for venues to engage with along the tour.
EDUCATION, LEARNING & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
All M&G NSW touring exhibitions are accompanied by an Exhibition Information Pack, which includes artwork lists, promotional details, installation guides, marketing templates, and education & learning resources, among other useful details to assist with a successful exhibition. Recently these Packs have started to incorporate a Mediation handbook with information, links, further reading and suggestions to help support staff, volunteers and councils to relate to and speak about the show with confidence. Moving forward, we are making videos aimed at young people for each show to allow for non-facilitated public programming for galleries and museums with limited capacity to staff learning opportunities. These videos will feature the artist/s to allow their voice to always be present within these activities, even when delivered by staff, local artists, or off-site in classrooms.
Please see some recent examples of Education Resources and Mediation Handbooks below:
ENGAGING ART INITIATIVE, 2017 – 2019
Supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, the Engaging Art initiative focused on developing and engaging new audiences for touring exhibitions of contemporary visual art at regional galleries across Australia. Through our own research and via direct feedback from regional galleries, M&G NSW identified a need to work closely with venues to deliver their priorities in engagement – untapped audiences, First Nations people, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Australians and young people – these were essential targets for the strategic vision of galleries across the country, yet they often lack resources and experience to attract and maintain engagement with these groups.
M&G NSW understands the positive impact small to medium sized galleries have on local communities. They inspire their communities and visitors through art, stories and ideas – creating jobs, educational and volunteering opportunities for many ages, as well as community excitement and pride. One way we support them in doing this is through our touring exhibition program which provides the very best contemporary art to the regions affordably. We also recognise that supporting these galleries to engage with audiences through these exhibitions is vital. The Engaging Art Initiative worked directly with galleries and their unique communities to grow visitation, participation and engagement. Each venue developed their own unique pilot program tailored to audience development goals and priorities specific to their region and in doing so discovered new audiences, partnerships and models which can be rolled out in their future programming.
A wider audience visited the gallery, [the Engaging Art Initiative] achieved our goals, participants reported a deeper understanding of art and differing art forms, developed skills and knowledge, and had a sense of confidence, pride, self-efficacy and esteem…for those participants who hadn’t visited a gallery before, they felt more comfortable in the space and I feel confident they will visit again.— Wanneroo Library and Cultural Centre, WA
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION SYMPOSIUMS, since 2019
To launch the contemporary art tour Void, curated by Wiradjuri educator Emily McDaniel, M&G NSW, UTS Gallery and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) brought together educators from Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Geraldton, Bendigo, Newcastle, Murwillumbah and Mackay for the Void Education Symposium in Bathurst. They were also joined by volunteer guides and other gallery workers from the Central West NSW region. The symposium included a Welcome to Country from Wiradyuri Elders, a tour of the exhibition led by curator Emily McDaniel, an in-depth look at the learning resources developed to support the tour, and a reflective yarning circle. These activities focused on developing and promoting appropriate talking points, activities and curriculum connections around the themes of Void and the considerations of presenting artworks from one Country on another Country.
It was also a rare opportunity to meet the curator and professional staff involved in touring exhibitions of this calibre. The whole event was so well-planned and enjoyable. Thanks so much.— Void Education Symposium attendee
From the learnings of this symposium and the support of M&G NSW, engagement and outreach programming for Void (2019-2021) included smoking ceremonies, yarning circles, weaving workshops, local First National installers at each venue, and artist and curator talks. We are also preparing for the OCCURRENT AFFAIR Education Program to be launched in mid 2023 at NAS Gallery, National Art School and the Dennis Golding POWER – The Future is Here Education Program to be launched in late 2023.
Photographs by Vanessa Low, Museums & Galleries of NSW.
An exhibition curated by Emily McDaniel, in conjunction with UTS Gallery and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, presented nationally by Museums & Galleries of NSW. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program, and through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
CENTRE OF THE CENTRE TRAINING PROGRAM, 2021 – 2023
Key components of the Centre of the Centre contemporary artwork tour are the engagement tools and tailored support M&G NSW is facilitating at each venue. By artist Mel O’Callaghan, the show has its roots in scientific exploration, plunging the audience 4km below the surface in the Pacific Ocean to encounter lifeforms that amaze in their ability to be sustained in such an extreme environment. In partnership with the University of Queensland Art Museum and The University of Sydney Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program, M&G NSW has implemented an engagement model alongside this tour that incorporates a training aspect for the volunteers and education staff that connect with the greater community. This training model allows for longevity in public programming, as M&G NSW is sending specialists from UQ Art Museum to train and equip volunteer and staff members at each venue, from Townsville to Wodonga, with the knowledge and techniques to connect audiences with the content of this exhibition in a deep and meaningful way.
Mel O’Callaghan’s Centre of the Centre was curated and developed by Artspace and is touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW. Centre of the Centre is co-commissioned by Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers; Artspace, Sydney; and The University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body