Otago Museum calls for bigger DCC levy

Otago Museum says other institutions get more. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Otago Museum says other institutions get more. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Itwould be ''fairer'' for the Otago Museum, the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery to receive the same Dunedin City Council levy rise later this year, Otago Museum says.

An Otago Museum draft submission to the council was discussed at an Otago Museum Trust Board meeting this week.

The submission, on the council's draft 2014-15 annual plan, noted it was proposed the museum receive a 2% DCC levy rise in the financial year starting on July 1.

The council-owned art gallery and Toitu were scheduled to gain increases of 4.37% and 3.3% respectively.

Otago Museum's draft submission, which was obtained after a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, said the museum's levy allocation from the DCC had not increased since 2010.

The proposed 2% rise was a ''useful addition'' which would allow the museum to offset part of the ''real increases in costs'' faced since the levy was last increased, and help the museum invest in its collections team.

But other museums in the city with lower visitor numbers and smaller collections had received increased allocations in recent years and were again scheduled to receive more than the Otago Museum.

The museum fully understood the DCC had ''constrained'' funding, and suggested that, as the two museums and art gallery were facing similar challenges, it would be ''fairer to redistribute'' the proposed rises this year so all three Dunedin institutions gained an equal increase.

Compared with other key cultural institutions in the city, Otago Museum offered ''outstanding value for money'' for the services it delivered to local ratepayers.

The museum's annual levy of $3.7 million from the DCC was $235,000 less than that of the art gallery and $2.74 million less than that of Toitu.

Yet the Otago Museum had a significantly larger collection - about 1.8 million artefacts - compared with about 200,000 at the gallery and Toitu combined.

Otago Museum also attracted by far the largest number of visitors - last year it drew 464,000 and was on track to reach half a million this year.

Otago Museum operations were, by museum standards, ''extraordinarily efficient'' and its commercial activities generated more than $3.5 million each year.

This meant the museum was able to match almost every dollar invested in the museum by the DCC with self-generated income.

The museum also asked the DCC to consider allocating economic development funds to support the museum's ongoing exhibition work in Shanghai.

The museum had long been contributing in the ''vanguard'' of Dunedin's sister city relationship with Shanghai, including previously staging a major exhibition there, with another big one planned.

But such efforts had come at ''significant cost'' to the Otago Museum's ability to work on its own galleries.

The DCC had also informed the museum last month the museum's shop and cafe would have to pay full rates rather than the previous reduced rate.

The museum's annual rates bill would accordingly rise by $6882.93, including GST.

But any profits from the shop and cafe were invested directly back into museum operations, and the DCC was asked to consider increasing the museum levy allocation to offset the impact of the increased rateable value, the submission said.


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