Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This way up

The new director of the City Gallery in Wellington Elizabeth Caldwell certainly has her work cut out for her. The latest annual report from the Wellington Museums Trust shows that in the last year attendances at the City Gallery took another slide continuing a trend over the last four years. 

Attendance figures peaked in the 2007-2008 year at 203,919 but are now down to 143,000 lifting the subsidy per visitor to $16.79. And as if that's not enough the approval rating for the City Gallery is also on a decline. This year’s report has it at 86 percent with general awareness of the Gallery by the Wellington public down to 79 percent, a six percent drop on last year. 

In this context then it's got to be full marks to the Museums Trust for announcing in its annual report that it has decided not to impose a door charge. 

The City Gallery's struggles appear to be with exciting, fresh programming that builds a repeat audience. A surfeit of sculpture shows, eccentric combos (think Rob McLeod with Rohan Wealleans) and an overall lack of direction have undermined the Gallery's standing. Something that will make a real difference is the appointment of a senior curator. It's getting on for a year since the last one (Kate Montgomery) left the building so it's hard to understand why this job hasn't been filled by now. There's always the suspicion that delays in appointments help trim budgets but saving money isn’t going to save the day. 

You can get a copy of the Wellington Museums Trust’s 2011-2012 Annual Report here

Images: Left, Rohan Wealleans and right Rob McLeod at the City Gallery