Christchurch City Council peer reviews Art Gallery
23 November 2005
The Christchurch City Council has undertaken a peer review of the Christchurch Art Gallery which identifies the need to increase visitors to one of the city’s most admired buildings.
The Council’s General Manager Community Services, Stephen McArthur initiated the peer review after the Council identified earlier this year insufficient public use of and revenue from the Gallery.
Two experts in gallery management Ken Gorby, a Wellington consultant, and Tim Walker, director of the Dowse museum, carried out the review, the findings of which will be presented at a Council seminar on December 6. Staff have been advised of the review findings and are providing feedback.
The Council’s General Manager Community Services, Stephen McArthur says the review found that the Gallery, a landmark building which opened to great acclaim 30 months ago, still had much to celebrate including its well trained and professional staff and its very good budget.
“There has been a settling in period, but the review identifies falling visitor numbers with the exhibitions and public programmes not expressing anything new,” Mr McArthur says.
“The building is such a strong performer that it demands an equally strong, if not stronger performance from the visitor experience.”
Key recommendations from the review include committing to new audiences, building a new visitor experience and developing the brand.
Mr McArthur says a professional project manager will be appointed to drive the paradigm shift plan. The project manager will work alongside the gallery’s current management team. In the short term, new activity and programme development will be frozen, except for the actual programme that is offered in the galleries for the next six months to eight months. Market research will be carried out urgently to identify the needs of potential visitors.
“We need to expand our visitor base particularly through new product development. We want to develop a new personality for the Gallery which is inclusive dynamic, unexpected, interactive, fun, relaxed, cosmopolitan and moderately rebellious,” Mr McArthur says.
That the gallery has already begun diversifying its product is shown in its two latest exhibitions. New Zealand’s first exhibition of Korean contemporary art opened to the public last week, as did its display of legendary American photographer Ansel Adams' images of the natural world that reveal a lifetime devoted to capturing its changing beauty.
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