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Regional Museums Policy

Regional Museums Policy Helps To Preserve Collections Of National Significance

Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark and Associate Minister Judith Tizard today released details of the government's regional museums policy for capital construction projects.

"The policy, announced in the Budget, acknowledges that collections of national significance are housed in museums throughout New Zealand, and enables the government to give limited assistance as a funder of last resort to projects focused on properly housing such collections.

"In the eighteen months since this government was elected, I have been fortunate to visit many of New Zealand's regional museums and galleries," Helen Clark said.

"A number of these institutions are contemplating major capital works to improve the exhibition of and the public's enjoyment of their collections.

"To date, central government funding support for museum and gallery projects has been focused on the large metropolitan museums and galleries.

"The new regional museums policy makes funding available for non-metropolitan museums and galleries, subject to certain criteria.

"The criteria relate to issues such as ownership and governance; museum viability; funding sources; regional impact and the national significance of a museum's collections," said Helen Clark.

"Where there are collections of national significance, the government does accept a limited role on behalf of all New Zealanders, and on behalf of those objects that play such an important part in the way we develop and maintain our sense of national identity. We have therefore based the Regional Museums Policy on the idea of central government being a funder of last resort."

Applications for the current year must be received by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage by 31 July 2001.

Submissions will be evaluated by the Ministry and put forward for consideration by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. The Minister will make the final determination of how the final museums allocation will be granted each year.

For Capital Construction Projects


Government acknowledges that nationally significant collections are housed throughout New Zealand. Government also has an interest in communities having viable museums. These two considerations will lead government to make occasional grants to significant regional museums for capital construction projects. Nonetheless, government reaffirms that the primary responsibility for regional museums rests with the communities in which those museums are located.

The government has set aside a fixed amount each year to support capital developments at regional museums. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage will administer the Regional Museums Policy, conduct the assessment of proposals from museums seeking funding, and administer and monitor allocations made. The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage will decide the allocations to be made each year.

Government’s allocations for the Policy’s operation are as follows:

Year 2001/02 2002/03 2003/04 & outyears
$m GST incl 2.550 5.000 7.500


1. Definition
This Policy does not seek to embrace all the museums and galleries of New Zealand. To be considered, museums will satisfy the International Council of Museums (ICOM) definition of a museum:

A museum is a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment.

2. Collections
The significance of an institution’s collections is of key importance. Government is concerned that nationally significant material is housed adequately and made accessible to New Zealanders. As a general rule, this means that only major metropolitan and other significant regional museums and galleries will be eligible for consideration under this Policy.

3. Ownership, Governance and Stakeholders
The institution must demonstrate that any funds allocated will be for public benefit, not private gain, and that the ownership and governance arrangements of the museum ensure this. The institution must demonstrate that it has effective relationships with key stakeholders in its community including Maori.

4. Museum Viability
The government will want to be assured that any funding is going to a well-managed institution that will be viable in the long term. Assessment of the operational performance of the museum will include evaluation of the financial performance and position. The institution will have to supply other standard corporate documents such as a strategic plan, collection policy etc. Evidence will be required to show that any new operating costs arising from the proposed capital project can be adequately defrayed by the museum.

5. Funding Sources
The government is prepared to act only as a funder of last resort. It will not act as a lever through endorsing a project in order to enable funding to be granted from other sources. The possibility of full funding from other sources, including local authority contributions and Lottery Grants Board allocations, must have been fully investigated and exhausted before a formal submission is made to government.

6. Regional Impact
Government acknowledges that from time to time a project will have a significant regional impact that warrants special consideration. For example, projects that may be particularly significant in more remote areas may receive consideration because of their special circumstances.

7. Projects
Projects will be basic infrastructural work centred on museums’ collections. Major capital work that is geared towards collection facilities or the construction of exhibition spaces will be considered. The development of exhibitions will not be considered for funding.

8. Heritage Building
If the development involves a heritage building, the architectural significance of the existing structure and the project’s likely effect on the existing building will be noted. Advice will be sought from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

9. Retrospective Consideration
The government will not consider requests for projects that have been completed.

10. Nature of Funding Commitment
The government will only commit up to the amount available in each year. While the government may indicate a level of support that anticipates funding being provided over several years, no agreements will be entered into that make such contributions binding.

11. Form of the Grant
A grant will generally take the form of the payment of a capital sum. In some circumstances (particularly where the capital sum sought is large) the government may consider a grant that contributes to the repayment of the principal sum of a loan taken by the museum to fund the project.

12. Level of Government Funding
The amount of the government’s grant to fund projects will reflect what is considered to be an appropriate balance between national and local responsibilities and the significance of the collection to which the project relates. The proportion of the cost funded by government will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Projects with greater local significance can expect to receive a lesser proportion than those which may have some national dimension to them.

13. Conditions
Government may place whatever reporting and accountability conditions it determines are appropriate for a grant. The grant expenditure shall be monitored by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The Ministry will report on the expenditure in its Annual Report.

14. Timetable
In 2001/02 the timing will differ from that detailed below as submissions were not sought in February 2001. Requests for consideration will be received until 31 July 2001. The Ministry will conduct assessments and the Minister will determine how the 2001/02 allocation is to be disbursed with museums advised as soon as possible.

In future, the Ministry will call for submissions once a year in February for grants to be made in the following financial year. In the first instance museums will be required to submit adequate information to enable an initial analysis under all of the criteria itemised above. If it is obvious from the outset that museums do not satisfy the criteria they will be notified promptly. Submissions will be evaluated by the Ministry and, assuming they fulfil the criteria, advanced for Ministerial consideration. The Minister will make the final determination of how the regional museums allocation will be granted each year. Museums receiving funding will be advised at the time of the Budget, normally around May/June. They will receive funding in the new financial year which commences in July.

15. Other information
The Ministry may request further information such as a validation of the costs, current performance indicators and professional assessments.

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