A calm appears to have settled over the Auckland Art Gallery now that the new management structure appears kinder to existing staff (in the short term anyway). In general, restructurers push hard at the outset and then encourage attrition. This will probably be the way it goes here too with the new deputy director in a good position to make sure it happens.
More important is how far the Gallery allows itself to be pushed into taking up the new opportunities touched on by its new boss. You can almost hear the thoughts dancing in their heads, ‘hey, why don’t we….’
Convert the contemporary exhibition space on level 2 (the wooden pillars didn’t work for art anyway) into a function area. It has nice indoor/outdoor flow and catering facilities. It could have been made for it - probably was.
Downplay the role of sculpture as it limits the suitability of spaces for functions. Choi Jeong Hwa’s high hung Flower Chandelier shows the way forward.
Review opening hours to work out how to better serve the wedding trade.
Give more attention to children and their needs.
Take a more creative approach to box office.
Arrange more charge exhibitions and events and use multi-visit passes with benefits (discounts, clubs, the usual) to ease the pain.
Diversify retail options with co-branded pop-up stores to support exhibition themes.
Put marketers in charge of writing labels and wall texts (it worked at Te Papa and hardly anyone complained)
Charge for guided tours.
Work out a slate of special exhibitions – fashion is always a winner and a Louboutin is on offer.
Reduce the public opening hours of the library.
Triple photocopying charges.
Cut back staff travel.
Close at least one day of the week (Tuesday feels good)
Drag the chain on appointing a senior curator.
What would it take to stop this sort of stuff? We understand a group of artists and other art-interested people from Auckland have written to Robert Domm calling for the development of their ideal gallery. You can read their demands here.
Trouble is that the Auckland Art Gallery is coming under serious attack and ideals are not going to win the day this time. What’s needed is the same thing that is always needed at times like this, a band of committed people who want the sort of positive change that can only be achieved by active supporters, effective organisation, hard work and a goal.
Image: a rubber stamp