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On Wednesday councillors approved a proposal for a new in-house heritage function, including managing the district museums, to be included in the 2021-31 long-term plan process — funded by $49,000 in previously allocated council grant funds and part rate funded at $35,000.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said it was important to note the council was putting it to the community for inclusion in the long-term process.
‘‘What we are doing is asking the community ‘what do you think of this?’’’
The council looked at museums in a series of workshops held late last year where it was agreed the council’s role was part of a wider community-owned district museum strategy.
A disjointed approach to running museums separately instead of as an important sub-set of the overall heritage in Central Otago was also identified.
As a result, it was proposed the council play a key role in ensuring ratepayer money is distributed across its four wards — council investment stood at $347,000 per year across the wards.
According to the report the council’s role in the heritage and museum sector had evolved in an ad-hoc way.
The council had formally supported the heritage sector by providing a grant to the Central Otago Heritage Trust as part of the last long-term plan.
However, the level of support given to the various ward museums by the community boards grants programme varied, and in some cases the buildings museums were housed in were council-owned.
Across the four wards ratepayers provided museum funding of $167,200 via the grants programme and a further $180,100 in building maintenance and running costs per annum.
The council had historically provided a grant to Alexandra District Museum Incorporated (ADMI) alongside a separate Vincent Community Board grant to function as the district’s museum.
The proposal did not impact ADMI’s work to revitalise the Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery, nor its ability to apply to the Vincent Community Board for grant funding next year.