Art & Design

Feb 17, 2012

The superstar economics of gallery directors

The appointment of Michael Brand as the new director for the Art Gallery of NSW demonstrates that gallery directors have become international art stars in their own right.

Ben Eltham — <em>Crikey</em> arts commentator

Ben Eltham

Crikey arts commentator

6 comments

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6 thoughts on “The superstar economics of gallery directors

  1. Stephen

    If gallery directors are such global superstars these days, then why have the last two at NGA been so hopeless?

  2. jmendelssohn

    It is pretty clear that Ben Eltham doesn’t have a clue about the many different jobs undertaken by people in the arts – or the cost of real estate in Sydney.
    Professional positions in art galleries range from the relatively poorly paid specialists (conservators, curators and public program staff) to the relatively well paid people in marketing and public relations.
    The best directors (and Michael Brand is certainly one of these) combine the scholarship of a curator with astute diplomacy and fundraising. As well as negotiating budgets with premiers, support from big business and media, encouragement for artists, and being aware of the fate of every event that is likely to happen at their gallery; they need to spend a lot of time encouraging the rich and the wannabes to give ongoing financial support. This means that as well as hosting events at the gallery (and that big dining room at AGNSW gets a regular workout) they need to entertain at home. Sydney is now a city where an ordinary house in an unfashionable suburb costs over $900,000. I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that one of the reasons for the dramatic salary increase is the cost of local real estate and the expectation that Dr Brand will entertain potential donors at home.
    Michael Brand appointment has an international reputation for ethical scholarship and good governance, qualities that are not as common as they should be. Google the words “Michael Brand Getty ethics” and see why people are smiling again.

  3. Rob Dawson

    Maybe Eltham thinks Brand should get paid what the average artist gets paid. In which case why not appoint an average artist Ben? Would any of them actually do the job if asked? I doubt it. Glenn Stevens wouldn’t do it either. He likes planes.
    A stupid story.

  4. Nick Vickers

    Its about time that Australia caught up with the rest of the world by paying arts managers decent salaries. The great work that Edmund Capon did with the AGNSW is a credit to his dedication on a income. Over the past 30 years we have witnessed the creative arts develop into an industry. Pay the managers more and then, in this upside down world there will be a flow-on to creative generators – artists, writers etc., it amounts to a creative confidence.

  5. Nick Vickers

    Should read: The great work that Edmund Capon did with the AGNSW is a credit to his dedication on a modest income.

  6. blackdog

    This IS NOT a stupid story.

    If you want to sing the praises of the upper tiers on “modest incomes” hows about singing the praises of the artists living on sub basic living standards incomes?!

    The arts are supposed to be accessible to everyone, they are expressions of modern life, of emotions, dreams, relationships, conflicts, contrasts – once again it just gets hijacked by the motives of a few elite people hoarded up for their own benefit and then controlled by THEIR values, goals and standards. This is not what art is about – it’s no wonder people are so disillusioned, even our most basic expressions and joys are screwed by the BS of these elite people.

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