More changes at AGNSW. On the eve of the Archibald exhibition, staff at the Art Gallery of NSW are in shock. They were told by management on Tuesday that the gallery aimed to save $800,000 in its 2015-16 budget, mainly through voluntary redundancies. Morale at the gallery, which is seeking $450 million-plus recurrent funding for the new Sydney Modern building, is at an all-time low.
Volunteers too are up in arms. After being dismissed last year from their decades-long task of selling exhibition tickets, they learned yesterday that the membership desk at which they recruit support for the gallery has been exiled from the building. Instead outside private consultants will be hired to review the Art Gallery’s Society, the largest and most successful membership organisation of its kind in the country, on the grounds that “things must change”.
Changes under the rule of director Michael Brand, now three years into a five-year contract, appear to be all negative, say staff. While annual exhibition attendances in Sydney are lower than under former director Edmund Capon, in Melbourne the NGV is packing them in, with its blockbuster show from The Hermitage due to open at the end of this month. We asked the Art Gallery of NSW what was happening with the redundancies and the membership changes but have not yet heard back.