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AWMM gets 3% after 3 yrs without increase

Auckland Museum will get a 3% increase in its funding after a three-year freeze. (File photo), ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY.

Erin Johnson, Auckland Museum gets funding increase as council agrees first round of budget spending, Stuff, 2 May 2023

Auckland councillors have agreed on the first round of spending for the next financial year, even though the full budget won’t be agreed for another two months.

After three years with no funding increase, Auckland Museum will get a 3% increase to $33,260,000 for the 2023/2024 financial year.

However, that’s nearly $2m less than the museum asked for and less than half the rate of inflation.

At that level of funding, the museum is forecast to have a $7.76m deficit.

Museum chief executive, David Gaimster, told councillors at a meeting in late April that Covid-19 had severely limited the organisation’s ability to generate income.

The museum had reduced staff numbers and services, Gaimster said. But with council funding stalled since 2019, the museum was running deficits to deliver services and the situation had the potential to cause an “ongoing and structural deficit”.

Taking on significant debt was not appropriate, Gaimster said, “as unlike council, we don’t have assets we can use to provide adequate security”.

Gaimster assured councillors the museum was doing everything possible to maximise revenue generation – “We’re not just relying on the levy”.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum Act 1996 sets out how Auckland Council funds the museum with the annual levy required to be decided by April 30. Council’s overall budget won’t be adopted until June 29.

Protesters made their opposition to budget cuts clear to councillors at the Auckland Council governing body meeting on Thursday, April 27. ERIN JOHNSON/STUFF .

Councillors have also decided on funding for the Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat), which is covered by its own Act, and the eight regional cultural and safety organisations whose funding is dictated by the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008 (Arafa Act).

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown told councillors the funding decisions didn’t seem consistent to him “at a time when we are asking other people to do less”.

“We have witnessed a whole lot of people in here with a ‘no cuts’ sign this morning and here we are being asked to shell out a whole lot to sectors when we are cutting others,” Brown said.

“I feel most uncomfortable offering additional funds when we haven’t got the full budget.”

Councillors agreed on $18.5m for Motat, a decrease from the previous year.

The Arafa board receives $17.3m to fund Auckland Festival Trust, Auckland Philharmonic Trust, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Auckland Theatre Company, Drowning Prevention Auckland, NZ Opera, Stardome and Surf Life Saving Northern Region Inc. This includes $372,250 to fund the Arafa board.

Franklin ward councillor Andy Baker said he was troubled by the difference in funding for arts over organisations made up of volunteers and professionals who save lives.

Auckland Philharmonic Trust will receive the largest amount, $4.74m, which covers a transition to salaries for the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra’s players, while Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust receives the least at $450,000.

Earlier in April, Auckland mayor Wayne Brown wrote to councillors about his intention to make changes to the Acts that dictate Auckland Council’s funding of regional organisations.