Grant investment in museum staff

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History on show...Taking part in a tour of the Maruawai Centre during the launch of the Tu Tonu Regional Museums Project are (clockwise from left) pro ject manager Kimberley Stephenson, Otago Museum conservation manager Nyssa Mildwaters, Oraka- Aparima Runaka iwi representative Shona Fordyce and Gore Dis trict Council arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The Tu Tonu Regional Museums Project funded by a $315,000 government grant will invest in Otago-Southland arts and heritage staff and volunteers.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatu Taonga’s Te Tahua Whakakaha Cultural Sector Capability Fund provided the grant.

The project was launched at a hui at Gore’s Maruawai Centre on Monday.

About 50 staff and volunteers from 20 organisations south of Dunedin took part in the hui.

A second meeting will be held in Dunedin today at the Otago Museum.

Regional museums project manager Kimberley Stephenson said the 15-month project was unlike others in that the money would not be spent on buildings.

“It’s about investing in the people who actually work in the heritage and arts sector so it’s giving them free training opportunities, helping them with their development goals for their organisations – mostly in-kind support.”

Arts and heritage facilities had a role in supporting community wellbeing which was especially important at this time, she said.

“I think that is what the ministry have recognised with the funding.”

The project’s name refers to the phrase standing firm through the current turbulence.

Being aware of what past generations had faced could give perspective.

“It’s quite comforting in crisis situations because you realise that we’re a tiny blot on a continuum of time.

“Previous generations have gone through so much.”

Otago Museum had assigned 1000 hours of staff time to help with the project and it was her role to allocate this where needed.

Tu Tonu project members would complete a survey to identify what area they would like training in.

For example if they decided marketing was an area they needed to grow in Ms Stephenson would find the person who was able to help with that.

It was not only museum staff who were eligible to be part of the project but also people who were involved with historic properties, art galleries and marae.

Meeting together was a useful networking opportunity for people, she said.

Gore District Council arts and heritage curator Jim Geddes said while different groups had benefited from working with Otago Museum staff in the past Tu Tonu gave a platform for working closer together.

“We can look at some options for sharing skills.”

It would also provide ” tailored support in response to the critical priorities of each organisation, while recognising the existing strengths and expertise already present in each of our community museums”, Mr Geddes said.