Galleries governance under review

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury Regional Art Galleries’ governance will be reviewed following concerns.
Camera IconBunbury Regional Art Galleries’ governance will be reviewed following concerns. Credit: Norman Bailey / South Western Times

Bunbury Regional Art Galleries’ governance will be reviewed after concerns around the facility’s direction, according to a Bunbury city councillor.

Cr Brendan Kelly had sought an independent review, but this week reduced that to an internal probe.

It comes after director Julian Bowron resigned in the past month.

Cr Kelly said “a lot has happened” to the galleries over the past few years and it was vital the facility was “in the best hands” for it to be highly successful.

“The reason for this motion on notice is that I believe it’s time that we brought the arts community in from the cold,” Cr Kelly told the council this week.

“They have – on the network – expressed to me and other councillors that they’re not exactly happy with the direction that the gallery has taken over the past couple of years.

“Be that as it may and the reasons for it, I don’t intend to go into the nth degree.

“However, what we do know is that the regional art gallery is an important part, a vital part indeed, of the arts and culture of Bunbury and the region and we need to make sure it’s in the best health possible.

“With the departure of the previous director, we have an opportunity to ensure that we can recalibrate, realign or make sure the gallery is in the best of hands with the best governance model possible.”

The council voted in favour of City of Bunbury chief executive Mal Osborne launching the review, which will include public consultation with artists, art collectors and art administrators from the region.

The initial request for an independent review was estimated to cost $30,000 — a cost Cr Kelly and the council wanted to avoid.

Mayor Gary Brennan said the review was an opportunity to reconnect with the regional users of the galleries and find out their “level of satisfaction”.

“The council has made a decision to proceed with it, so we will and I look forward to the outcome,” Mr Brennan said.

“We’re always very keen to improve what we do, so I’m looking forward to the feedback from the wider regional community that use the art gallery.”

Addressing concerns, Mr Brennan said he had “full confidence” in the City staff that had been managing the galleries over the past five years.

“I’ve not received any complaints at all about the way the art gallery is functioning,“ he said.

“However I don’t speak to everybody and I’m looking forward to this process to see what is the level of satisfaction, but more importantly how can the City improve the operations at the regional art gallery.”

Cr Kelly said a focus of the review would be to ensure existing employees of the galleries were “looked after”.

“They should remain as City of Bunbury employees,” he said.

“What I did aim to get, as I said, was to bring the arts people in and around the region back into the fold as a vibrant life source behind the gallery.

“I do believe, to get the people who are most concerned with the visual arts in the South West together, we need to provide that opportunity ... and say where are we going, how are we going to best ensure that the gallery is vibrant into the future.”

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