Plans to separate operations of museum and libraries


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16 October 2007

Hamilton City Council CEO Michael Redman has announced the separation of City Libraries and Waikato Museum into stand-alone entities.

The libraries and museum have been operationally joined in the Arts and Culture Unit of the Council for more than ten years. The restructure will see the disestablishment of the Arts and Culture Unit.

The merger has been the subject of long-standing and strong opposition from within the arts community over the years with claims that it devalued the unique character and role of the individual facilities.

Mr Redman says there is also a much bigger view about the part Council plays in ensuring the city has a strong cultural feel. He says the notion that arts and culture should be delivered through just one Council unit was an outdated one.

"You can't throw a blanket over these facilities and treat them as one. Council's new Creativity and Identity Strategy gives impetus and meaning as to how we can advance the city's creative and cultural experience. We are preparing for a dynamic period in this sector," says Mr Redman.

The city's theatres, which have also been part of the same Unit, will be merged with Event Facilities which also includes the soon to be redeveloped Claudelands including a 5000 seat indoor arena.

Mr Redman says he strongly believes the museum and libraries are two very distinct facilities that have their own specialised operational needs and challenges while the Theatres and Event Facilities alignment, in addition to improved facilities, will provide greater options in attracting a wide range of concerts and performances to the city.

"Both the libraries and museum can and do make a significant contribution to the creativity and identity of the city and I believe they need the freedom to grow and respond to the development of Hamilton. The disestablishment of the Arts and Culture Unit will provide greater focus and clarity as to how they can do this," says Mr Redman.

Mr Redman says the restructure will see nearly all staff from the Arts and Culture Unit redeployed within the organisation, however Unit Manager Jan White will be leaving Council.

Consultation with affected staff has been underway for the past few weeks to ensure all views and feedback was canvassed prior to a final decision.

Both Museum Director Kate Vusoniwailala and Libraries Director Faye Clark say they are looking forward to the opportunities the change will bring as distinct and specialised operations.

Name: Michael Redman
Designation: Chief Executive
Tel (Direct): 0 7 838 6975
Mobile: 021 947365
Name: Sue Duignan
Designation: General Manager Community Services
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6624
Mobile: 021 850037
Page reviewed: 16 Oct 2007 12:00am