Three art jobs for the price of one

By BELINDA SCOTT

THREE of Coffs Harbour's cultural institutions may be placed under one hand, following changes which have occurred this summer.

In December, Coffs Harbour City Council agreed to take over management of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery and its permanent collection.

It also decided to expand the gallery's management board to include representatives with interest in the Coffs Harbour Historical Museum, which has been closed since December, 2004.

The amalgamation would allow the Bunker's director, art gallery and museum curator Dr Leigh Summers, to work with the museum's collection.

The sudden resignation of the Coffs Harbour City Art Gallery's director, Sandra Warner, made public last week, clears the way for the appointment of one person to a full-time position as director of all three bodies.

A spokeswoman for Coffs Harbour City Council said it was looking at ways to manage these facilities but said nothing was set in stone.

The council's general manager, Stephen Sawtell, said this week a merger of the city's three largest art institutions could lead to better services.

In an interview with ABC Radio Mid North Coast, responding to concerns from the art community about the council's commitment to culture in the wake of the abrupt departure of Ms Warner, Mr Sawtell said: ". . . we may find in the future that the art gallery might be incorporated into that three-part relationship all in time, which means much better attention and resourcing to the whole environment of the art gallery, Bunker Gallery and museum."

This is not a new idea for the city.

The former chair of the council's Regional Gallery Advisory Committee, Margaret Bruggisser, said such a tripartite structure was discussed at least six years ago.

"There is a certain amount of sharing you can do," she said, "and that was always envisaged."

Mrs Bruggisser said her notes from 2000 show that there were discussions along these lines at that time, as problems at the museum were already evident.



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