Museum concerns raised at breakfast

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A discussion about the future of the Alexandra’s Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery attracted more than 50 people to a recent breakfast meeting.

Alexandra, Clyde and Districts Business Group hosted the monthly breakfast at the Cellar Door and people, including members of the Alexandra District Museum Inc (ADMI), spoke about their concerns for the facility.

Central Otago District Council (CODC) Vincent ward councillor Tamah Alley answered questions about the museum’s funding and changes to its grants contestability, and options for its future.

‘‘No-one is going to shift the museum,’’ she said.

‘‘We are not going to close it.’’

Other comments from the floor included concern about funding streams, storage and the i-Site move, the transfer of ownership of the building to the council last year and the huge effort volunteers had put into fundraising to build it in 2005.

Some felt more of the $2.8 million raised from the council’s heritage and culture rates should go to the museum, as there was a need for certainty of income.

Central Cinema chairman Bill Siddells asked what happened to the report ‘‘The Business Case for Reinvigorating Central Stories’’, which analysed options for revitalising the facility, was lodged with the council in December last year.

Mrs Alley said report went to the Vincent Community Board, but while it was frustrating she acknowledged they moved at ‘‘glacial pace’’ .

Earlier this week, council chief adviser Saskia Righarts said the grants policy in 2019 made all grants contestable through the long-term plan (LTP) process.

‘‘So rather than submitting to the LTP process for a grant like ADMI and other groups have in the past, council and community boards will decide the size of the grants pot available and there will be a separate grants process next year for ADMI and other groups to apply to.

‘‘The amount of money available is still being worked through.’’

When the building was handed over to the council there was no occupation agreement in place between ADMI and the previous trust owners.

‘‘There was an unsigned draft lease with proposed terms of $6000 p.a. rent and a portion of rates being on-charged to ADMI, based upon area.’’

However, ADMI proposed to fund this in full or part by a council grant.

The rent is $1 per annum, with the tenant paying all utility charges and the landlord paying the rates.