Gallery director is a critical role for the future

Critical role for the future

As a semi-retired tree changer, I relocated to Ballarat five years ago. I spend my spare time enjoying the cultural activities Ballarat has to offer and have immensely enjoyed watching the transformation the CoB has undergone in the short time I have resided here. I have always marvelled at the Art Gallery of Ballarat`s magnificent collection of art which is of the highest quality and depth of all regional galleries across Australia. The significance of the riches that the Art Gallery of Ballarat has been endowed with through the philanthropy of great people of the goldfields is to be honoured, and it is this endowment of the early collection that has enabled management to secure ongoing philanthropy which in turn gives the gallery boasting rights of being completely financially independent of the City of Ballarat and the ratepayers of Ballarat when purchasing art for the gallery's collection. This then frees up the AGoB to use all its funding from the CoB to pay for running costs. A truly fortunate position that is deeply envied by all regional galleries across Australia.

It is this very high-profile status of our gallery that makes the appointment of a new art gallery director such a highly contentious and coveted issue. With the recruitment of a new director purportedly underway, how is it that no vacancy has been advertised in any capacity across any mediums for this city council position? We know that Ballarat is becoming known somewhat as a cultural destination, but so much more could be done to modernise how this is communicated and delivered to tourists. We seem to be locked into the personal tastes of the current gallery director who has a love for medieval music and gothic themes with no regard for the contemporary cultural appetite of art tourists and local consumers.

BIG SHOES: the importance of the Ballarat Art gallery means the importance of filling the role after the retirement of Gordon Morrison will be critical for its future

BIG SHOES: the importance of the Ballarat Art gallery means the importance of filling the role after the retirement of Gordon Morrison will be critical for its future

With five new directors to its board of management. With such a high degree of change in the board, how can the people of Ballarat be assured the appointment of a new director is going to be a fair and equitable appointment for the financial and cultural future of our art gallery.

Louis Alexander, Ballarat

What have we learned

This year marks 40 years since the controversy over the plans by McDonalds to demolish buildings on Bakery Hill and their eventual acceptance of a compromise suggested by members of the Save Bakery Hill group. On Wednesday evening Ballarat historian, Anne Beggs-Sunter gave an excellent and informative lecture on the history of Bakery Hill and the fight to save the historic buildings such as the Ballarat Times building against powerful business interests from outside Ballarat, and with a less than supportive City Council. There are obvious parallels with the current plans for the Ballarat Station precinct - powerful outside business interests with plans strongly opposed by the local community which has had little support from the City Council and with an alternative proposal which meets local needs already suggested. One can only hope that as at Bakery Hill, common sense wins out and the final development is one which enhances Ballarat rather than merely enriches developers at the expense of Ballarat's historic streetscapes.

Stuart Kelly, Ballarat

Keeping our icons

Like many of your readers I have been disheartened by the recent developments at the St Andrew's church in Sturt Street. It is most unfortunate that the Uniting Church seems to be set on obstructing the sale of the church to the Anglican Church at almost all costs. Your most recent article indicates that a new commercial buyer has appeared on the scene, and this is to be preferred to selling St Andrew's to a purchaser who will maintain its intended use as a place of worship and keep it as one of Ballarat's great icons. I am sure there must be many of the Uniting Church congregation in Ballarat who share my view.

Tony Cree, Ballarat