Moves to boost acquisition funds

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery is to set up a new charitable trust as part of efforts to boost its ailing acquisitions budget.

The move came as some councillors at yesterday's long-term plan meeting expressed concern at the amount of funding allocated to acquisitions for the gallery's collection.

The DPAG received $50,000 a year from the council for new acquisitions, which was boosted by individual bequests and contributions from the Friends of the Gallery.

Funding from the society was expected to be worth $25,000 a year for the next decade, but DPAG director Cam McCracken told yesterday's meeting the acquisition budget remained ''quite low''.

That was compared to the DPAG's peer organisations, but, given the council's financial position, he was not advocating an increase.

Instead, councillors voted to allocate cash donations by gallery visitors to the acquisitions budget in future.

There would also be renewed effort to develop relationships with potential benefactors and encourage bequests.

At the same time, the DPAG would create a new charitable trust to act as a fundraising entity for gallery acquisitions and other projects.

Cr David Benson-Pope said the city was fortunate to have an art collection that was ''arguably first equal in the country''.

That was due to the generosity of past benefactors, but not the ''miserable'' funding allocated to acquisitions by the council, which was an ''embarrassment'', he said.

An increase was long overdue, and the changes were ''a good initial step'', Cr Benson-Pope said.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes agreed, saying the city gained economic benefit from the strength of the DPAG collection, which attracted visitors to the city.

Unless that investment was maintained, ''then over time that benefit decreases'', he said.

Councillors voted to endorse the changes subject to a review in two years' time.

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