Raise Your Voice: National Public Galleries Summit, last week in Townsville, asked it’s delegates how the Global Financial Crisis can be turned into an opportunity to achieve sustainability, creativity and resilience.
Robyn Archer gave the keynote address titled Lightness Agility Resilience: clues for survival in the 21st century. The talk was based on an essay she wrote for Essentially Creative, issue 23 of the Griffith Review. She emphasised that this is the time for grants to be redirected from those arts agencies that have become inefficient due to long-term funding to new and dynamic projects.
The closing hypothetical discussed this concept of Resilience in terms of what ideas institutions could take home. The panel Manchester Council Director of Culture Virginia Tandy, head of the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of AucklandJonathan Mane-Wheoki and art critic John MacDonald, together with summit delegates, offered ideas on that could be taken back on a positive step forward.
The suggestions were:
* During a time when there are a multitude of niche interest groups rather than a general public, putting collections online allows specialised interest communities to form.
* Local councils should stop the restriction of social networking sites like Flickr and YouTube that are valuable tools for reaching new audiences.
* Institutions should look at what is in their collections rather than sourcing material from other organisations.
* Transfer part of a collection to another institution if they have better resources and staff to care for it.
* Promote stories about collections in how they have impacted on people’s lives. For example, Sir Norman Foster decided on his architecture career after finding a book on Frank Lloyd Wright in the library.
* Larger galleries and museums should help regional galleries attract corporate sponsorship so they can offer free admission to traveling exhibitions.
* Recognise that people give money to people not institutions.
* Use a collection creatively to attract donors.
* Network to compensate for a lack of resources.
* Engage with the local community by establishing what they are already interested in.
* Employ people from the local community for front of house roles so they will promote the area.
* Ensure there is career progression for staff.
* Administer ideas quickly and simply. Minimise reports, documentation and committees.
* Be positive.
The summit was a great success, particularly in terms of regional galleries and service providers, artists and curators sharing ideas and forging valuable relationships. Summits like these help build a supportive community of practice. Congratulations Museums and Galleries Services Queensland on putting on a well-run conference with such a warm and friendly atmosphere and thank you Frances Thomson, director of Perc Tucker Gallery, for being a wonderful host. Recordings of the talks will be available on the MGSQ website over the next few weeks. They also have social networking running on their Facebook page.