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Esther Anatolitis, NAVA

Alex Marsden

Museums Galleries Australia

Anne Robertson

Public Galleries Association, Vic

Kim Jameson

Art on the Move WA/Galleries West

Tracey Fox, Volunteering SA/NT

Lisa Slade, Art Gallery of SA

A half-day Forum for Public Galleries

Presently jointly by Regional Galleries Association of SA  and Museums and Galleries (SA)


Thursday 28 June 2018 • Radford Auditorium, Art Gallery of South Australia

Free for MGA and RGASA members, Non-members: $20

For this our second (and what we hope will be our annual) gathering of South Australia’s public gallery sector—the only opportunity for the sector to come together as a whole to discuss the issues we share—there were 65 of us representing a broad cross section of the sector - 29 regional and 26 Metro – reps from local government (18), community galleries (9), ARIs (8), museums (3), State/Federal Government-funded (8 reps from the three funded galleries) and Universities (6) plus 14 reps from various industry bodies, including our 5 speakers.


Regional Galleries Association of SA were pleased to partner with the SA Branch of Museums Galleries Australia once again and we acknowledge the support of the Art Gallery of SA and Country Arts SA without which it wouldn’t be viable for us to get this off the ground.


The top priority identified last year was to explore how to work with our colleagues nationally to standardise and collect the right data in order to speak to decision-makers in their own language and with one voice. Industry colleagues from interstate stimulated discussion from the perspective of their own stages of the journey dealing with the same issues.

Esther Anatolitis (Executive Director, NAVA) spoke on how NAVA can work with the not-for-profit gallery sector to advocate for resourcing which ultimately enables galleries to better support artists; Anne Robertson (Executive Officer, Public Galleries Association Victoria), outlined how and why we should the standardising our benchmarking data and gallery standards nationally, Kim Jameson of Art on the Move WA and representing Galleries West spoke on why and how WA have instigated this fledgling peak body, the issues they have in common with SA and how we can work together and  Alex Marsden (Executive Director, Museums Galleries Australia) current addressed MGA national advocacy projects and tips and tricks for approaching decision makers.


Last year we also recognised that we need to be able to articulate the vital contribution volunteers make to our industry more effectively. Executive Director of Volunteering SA-NT, Tracey Fox spoke on how we can better articulate our contribution as a sector to our communities through both volunteers and volunteering, best practice volunteer recognition, and the National Standards for Volunteer involvement

See a Summary of the main points below and click the buttons to the left to download the presentations.

To round out the afternoon, co-Acting Director of Art Gallery of SA (at that time), Lisa Slade gave a lively rundown on the current state of play with Adelaide Contemporary and current thinking within the gallery.


We’re sure all of us in SA were emboldened by the camaraderie and willingness to collaborate shown by our interstate colleagues. And as always, this event was as important for the connections it accelerated as it was for the issues discussed. 


By the end of the day we had a clearer picture of how we can work with them to address them here in SA and to collectively represent SA at a national level.


Such was the need made obvious that we urgently need to collect data on entire the sector statewide, RGASA and MGA are currently negotiating a collaboration to get the process underway. Which, if it comes off, will be a brilliant result of the forum and will really drive the process of working with Victoria and WA to determine the language, collect the data and present a common front to decision makers.


We will also continue working with our colleagues at NAVA towards campaigning for State Government recognition of the work the sector contributes to supporting SA’s established and emerging artists.


In the meantime, as we gather ourselves collectively, stay personally vigilant to every opportunity to make your voice heard. Translate the good stories and testimonials into the written or spoken word for upload and sharing.


Speaking to Decision Makers in their own Language: Summary of the main points

  • While South Australia’s not-for-profit gallery sector remains so critically under-resourced, our commitment to paying artists ethically and appropriately for their work requires a commensurate reduction in programming with the result that galleries don’t reach their potential, support for artists to bring their work into the public sphere is spread too thinly and inappropriate compromises are made – these are conversations we need to have together

  • We must all be vigilant about what conversations are being had and tap into them – politicians at all levels of government often report that they’re not hearing about the arts – be wary of complacence

  • The full story of the impact of public galleries is not out there. Standardising our data collection is a key part of Insightful Advocacy. We need agreed gallery benchmarks to empower galleries to secure appropriate adequate resourcing, sharing of data nationally and working together on clear messaging – succinct proposals that are ready to hand during election campaigns and crucial moments

  • We must convince decision makers to grow the pie—slicing it differently won’t get the job done

  • Galleries West, as a fledgling peak organisation, has identified many of the same issues we as a sector identified last year and we have much in common

  • We need to be part of the conversation to make sure State Government understands the consequences of rate capping, especially for galleries supported by Local Government, as community services will no doubt suffer – where will the shortfall will come from?

  • We are embarking on telling a statewide story at a time when we can take advantage of current narratives around refocussing research and data collection on the intrinsic value of the arts to individual people, making the point through narrative and generating real life examples. Evaluation and reporting in the cultural sector has been too closely tied to meeting the accountability requirements identified by funders, leaving important data neglected and unreported, and weakening its ability to inform and support cultural practitioners and organisations in bringing arts into the public space.

  • We need to find our collective voice at a state level and our individual voices at a local level recognising that we all have different stories to tell – ensuring the public gallery sector is not forgotten when decisions are made (collaboration is key)

  • Be aware that much of the current investment in bricks and mortar is in inverse proportion to investment in people and programs

  • Know who your decision makers are and what pushes their buttons and frame stories that will resonate with them. Don’t surprise or ambush them, especially if you need to play the long game

  • Never forget the power of your own voice within your own sphere and keep the pressure on

  • Every community is different—capture those really specific, individual stories – real life experiences are the most effective way to talk about value and impact. Ask everyone who comes through the door the same question for one month and then find a way to tell that one story in a deep and rich way – short two minute videos of people telling from the heart how something has impacted them and post online and shared with local members. Individual voices can be brought together to create a national picture.

Valuing Volunteers: A Summary of the main points 

  • In Australia volunteering is larger than mining, retail and education combined

  • There are national standards for volunteer involvement here

  • the current national rate for volunteering is $41.30 – include this figure in your budgets and reports to quantify volunteers’ contribution

  • there much crossover between museums and galleries and volunteering – we should talk more!

  • consider membership for benefits including training, networks, policy development and volunteer pathways


2018 Speakers

Esther Anatolitis | Executive  Director, NAVA

ESTHER ANATOLITIS fosters local, regional, national and international perspectives on contemporary arts issues as one of the nation’s leading advocates for the arts. Her practice rigorously integrates professional and artistic modes of working to create collaborations, projects and workplaces that promote a critical reflection on practice. With a strong background in visual arts, design, architecture and media, Esther has held leadership roles including Craft Victoria, Melbourne Fringe, SBS and Express Media, and most recently with Regional Arts Victoria. She is Deputy Chair of Contemporary Arts Precincts and has served numerous board, policy, advisory and juror roles. Esther is a former curator of Architecture+Philosophy, Digital Publics and Independent Convergence, and has taught into the studio program at RMIT Architecture, as well as at UNSW and the University of Sydney. A writer and critic, Esther’s work is regularly published and collected at

Alex Marsden | Executive Director, Museums Galleries Australia

ALEX MARSDEN is a cultural heritage advocate and adviser. She has a diverse background in public policy, strategic design and cultural heritage methodologies, linked by a primary focus on people, culture and values.

Trained as an historian, she has worked in museums, the non-government sector, heritage agencies and key national public policy departments. In March 2015 Alex was appointed National Director of Museums

Australia: the national membership association that represents museums and galleries—large and small—and museum workers, paid and volunteer, across Australia. She is currently leading projects on improving Indigenous participation and representation in museums, and enabling better digital access to collections.

Anne Robertson | Executive Officer, Public Galleries Association Victoria

ANNE ROBERTSON is the Executive Officer of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV). Since starting in the role in November 2010, Anne has contributed to landmark research into the brand practices of Victoria’s public galleries, undertaken state-wide benchmarking, prepared a wide range of submissions to state and federal government, convened a national committee to deliver the Fifth National Public Galleries Summit in Bendigo and most recently delivered Artists in the Black Across Victoria, a pilot program aimed at increasing career pathways for First Nations artists and community members within the public gallery sector.  Prior to joining the PGAV, Anne was Executive Director of Craftsouth: Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design and has held positions with the Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) and the Experimental Art Foundation. Anne completed a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) with Honours from the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia.

Kim Jameson | Galleries West/Art of the Move WA

KIM JAMESON is passionate about cultivating curiosity, enjoyment and understanding of culture and its connections to life, history and personal experience. She holds an intrinsic belief in the transformational role of culture as a vehicle for change, critical discourse, empowerment, giving a voice to the silent and contributing to identity of self, community and place. Current Executive Director of ART ON THE MOVE Kim began her career as a community artist in the UK. With a BA (H) in Creative Arts and MSc in leadership and management Kim has worked in local government and non-profit organisations in the UK, USA and now Australia. Combining her practical experiences with strong policy and strategic planning skills to unlocking opportunities for growth with individuals and organisations alike.


Tracy Fox | Executive Manager, Volunteering SA

TRACEY FOX has worked with community service organisations for over 30 years in disability and case management, business excellence, mental health and domestic violence support. With a strong focus on volunteering, business and training development both in South Australia and ACT, Tracey has extensive experience and qualifications in volunteer management, program and project management, change design, professional development and training. Tracey also has experience in state, national and international Board and Committee work, has been a Board Chair of a small not for profit organisation and is also a versatile presenter and public speaker.


Lisa Slade | Co-Acting Director, Art Gallery of South Australia

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