Friday, 9 March 2018

Culture, Money And Accountability

If Launcestonians were to compare and contrast what happening in their city and a city elsewhere they could expect to be informed of things they didn’t get to see at home. Ald. Gibson is reported in The Examiner as having been the only Alderman to seriously question the proposal for a ‘Cultural Strategy’ that involves the QVMAG. In this case this strategy involves a substantial 'community owned' cultural asset that Lasuncestonians have invested a great deal in over a very long time.

 In fact it is reported that:
  • The estimated dollar value of QVMAG collections: $230-40 Million; 
  • The cost of keeping the institution openand there is approx. $40.00 plus per person per attendance
  • The attendance per annum is approx. 144,500 - averages approx. 400 per day
  • The total number of employees is approx. 78 – Effective Full Time = 46 
All this adds some perspective to management's proposed Cultural Strategy – and a perspective that all too often gets glossed over.

Clearly the report – essentially a management initiative –  downplays the fiscal implications of the initiative – and they will be many. This is so despite Ald. Gibson's questioning and concerns. Alarmingly, the report was adopted without amendment with the ten Aldermen present voting virtually ‘on the voices’ for its adoption. Nevertheless, Ald. Gibson characterised it as being confusing

Given that this is the case, a Council interested in due diligence and accountability would have deferred the decision until outstanding questions are resolved and further information was provided. Indeed, a Council alert to its maxim, 'Progress With Prudence', might well have voted differently to the way they did but it seems that Prudence was not present.

In wondering about what has been missed these things stand out
  1. Try as one might there does not appear to be a clear statement of the propose ... That is the unit advancing the strategy’s PURPOSE!!
  2. Neither does it appear that there is any kind of articulation in regard to a CLEAR set of Strategic Objectives for the proposed unit!!
  3. Thus, one might well wonder about the set of rationales that are informing and driving this strategic initiative!
  4. Thus, the strategy/iers implied in the document do NOT seem to fit a PURPOSE and any consequent OBJECTIVES if and when they are articulated!

So, how could any effort that is being expended be regarded as being purposeful? If something is not purposeful why do it all?

More to the point, given the lack of meaningful community consultation or community participation, have any of the Aldermen, except Ald. Gibson, asked any of these questions so far?
  •  Is a Cultural ‘Unit’ a viable idea and is it Core Launceston Council Business? If so why so?
  • Would such an initiative be more relevant in a regional context?  
  • If there is a 'Launceston City need' where is there a strong case put for such an initiative and in what context? 
  • Are the Aldermen (QVMAG Trustees?) only just now being engaged in this matter – a proposition of, and an initiative of, management?
  • Indeed, where is the QVMAG Governance Advisory Board’s involvement and/or engagement in this process?
  • If this 'advisory body' isn't being involved, or hasn't been engaged in the process, why not and indeed what is its purpose?

In fact, is there such an urgent need to progress this initiative put forward by 'management' before such questions can be adequately answered out in the open? That is, with the constituency, the people who will be called upon to pay for any outcome, being fully involved and engaged?

Then there is the 'report' from Robyn Archer that is for whatever reason being kept confidential. 

  • What could it possibly contain that could not stand public scrutiny?
  • Might transparency of process here not only be prudent, perhaps it might also reveal that 'the report' lacked an adequate brief to measure its recommendations against?
  • If that is the case what real value or relevance might ‘the report’ have – and might any of this be assessed?

However, Launcestonians need to be very, very thankful to have 'bureaucratic betters' available to them to:

  • Blow into to town from time to time to deem 'cultural value' ;
  • Tell them what is actually what in the 'cultural arena';
  • Tell them about 'their culture' and what they value and how much; and
  • Reap a hefty reward for their efforts and 'cultural expertise' before moving on.

Ray Norman March 2018

No comments:

Post a Comment