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Museums Aotearoa Keep the Lights on Campaign

William Terite, Museums and galleries warn they may be forced to close amid funding woes, NewsHub, 12 March 2024

Watch video: A campaign, Keep the Lights On, comes amid rising costs and dwindling funding. Credits: Newshub.

Many of the country’s museums and galleries warn they may soon be forced to close or lay off staff due to rising costs and dwindling funding.

Museum directors gathered for crisis talks in Wellington on Tuesday and have launched a campaign aimed at keeping the lights on.

One of those directors at the meeting was New Zealand Portrait Gallery’s Jaenine Parkinson.

She runs the popular gallery in Wellington, which has attracted both locals and tourists for decades.

But Parkinson is now painting a grim picture of the gallery’s future.

“We don’t have assurance of our long-term future and we’re also eating that future,” Parkinson said.

She’s referring to the funding issues plaguing the gallery, a concern being felt by museums and galleries nationwide.

That’s despite the industry drawing in nearly 18 million visitors each year.

“When your neighbours are crumbling around you it’s a really good warning sign and this is a wake-up call,” Parkinson said.

Museums Aotearoa chief executive Adele Fitzpatrick also said it boils down to a lack of funding.

“The funding model varies greatly but mostly its councils who fund museums and galleries,” she said.

That money from local councils isn’t enough to keep up with rising operating costs, which is why the industry met in Wellington on Tuesday.

“We’re launching our Keep the Lights On campaign today because we’ve talked to over 100 of our members and museums and galleries, which are worried about their futures,” Fitzpatrick said.

The museum industry is also calling for support from central Government before it’s too late.

Fitzpatrick said they’re looking for a new funding model and encouraged central and local covernment to have a conversation with the industry, as the current model isn’t fit for purpose.

To try and make that point hit home, the museums and galleries will be switching their lights off on April 15 for the day.

See also: Kauri Museum director makes compelling economic argument for funding