Hope and excitement, big ideas and a love for old favourites were the standout responses to the community consultation regarding the redevelopment of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG), released today (August 31).
The SMAG board commissioned the consultation so that community views would be taken into account during the early stages of the project.
Among the responses is a feeling of hope and excitement for the future of the museum. There was strong support for a more specific focus on children and youth, as well as a desire for a top-of-the-line café and spaces for the community to gather.
A total of 510 people took part in the surveys online, by filling out a hard copy, or by attending one of the several workshops held throughout Southland.
SMAG board chair Toni Biddle said the results gave a very clear indication of what the public wanted.
“There is such a strong community vision of what the museum could be, and those who participated felt empowered by the process.”
The strength of the project had been consultation with so many different facets of the community, Biddle said.
“They all bring a significant piece to the puzzle. The collaboration of art and heritage sectors has been integral, as is iwi, our tamariki, and the whanau of the late Russell Beck. All of these links are part of our museum’s story. The future of our museum is so exciting.”
Strategic consultant Tim Walker, who is undertaking the museum redevelopment review, said community consultation is a key part of the process and was thrilled with the response.
“Southland is just really good at community consultation. It’s wonderful to be working with a group in a region that takes its communities’ views seriously and understands the value of engaging the public at the beginning of a project.”
Community consultation project manager Janette Malcolm was pleased with the response.
“There was a high level of participation in the under 25 age group, which is exciting, and a great number of people in the 25-44 year age group. Southlanders really do care about their stories and their resources and that was evident throughout the consultation process.
“There is now a clear view of the future museum themes on the public’s part, “ Malcolm said.
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