Museums & Galleries of NSW (M&G NSW) have just released their third major census of the small-to-medium museum and gallery sector, with data capture and reporting by Culture Counts.
The sector census collected data from 377 organisations from around NSW. In order to qualify for the census, organisations were required to act as operational museums, galleries or Aboriginal cultural centres within NSW, have collections or provide exhibitions, be regularly accessible by the public, and operate as not-for-profit organisations.
The census offers measurable insights into the collections, staffing levels, facilities, funding and visitation of these organisations and assists M&G NSW with policy development, advocacy and strategy. The census is also a fantastic opportunity to step back and consider a holistic view of the impact and health of the small-to-medium sector, across regional and urban NSW; and across the previous two censuses.
Some key findings include:
Uncovering the management, categorisation and worth of NSW’s collections
The vast majority (90%) of responding organisations across regional and urban NSW manage a collection – and a substantial one at that, with those respondents reporting an average of 1000 – 10,000 objects per collection. These collections are most likely to relate to the immediate local history and environment of the organisation’s region, with 54% of organisations describing their objects this way. Altogether, these organisations reported 824,957 individual items currently in collections with over 3 million additional items estimated when extrapolated across the state.
Culture in our regions
Respondents were very keen to share just how robust and impactful cultural life is in Regional NSW. Approximately two-thirds of respondents to the census survey were from regional NSW (defined by M&G NSW as all areas of NSW outside the greater Sydney Metro area). Across the regions, these organisations held 2955 exhibitions and 15,312 events and public programs, welcoming over 3 million visitors in 2017 (from a total of 5.5 million across NSW).
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the sector
We’re all aware of the vast amount of support that the museums and galleries sector receives from volunteers every year. However, the census is revealing just how much these generous individuals are contributing. Over half of respondent galleries in the census cited an entirely volunteer workforce, with 8,629 active volunteers counted across all reporting organisations. This equates to approximately 5 million hours of support provided in 2017, worth an estimated $150 million per annum.
The census ultimately describes a vibrant sector that values its rich culture across regional and urban areas. If you’d like to read the census you can do so here.