19                                                        02 March 2017

Community Services Committee

09 February 2017




File: (17/178)





Report no: CSC2017/1/3


Activity Review - Museums





Purpose of Report

1.      The purpose of this report is to outline the results of a review of the Museums activity.



It is recommended that the Committee:

(i)      notes the information contained in this report;

(ii)     notes that this review also meets the intent of section 17A of the Local Government Act 2002; and

(iii)    agrees that a full section 17A review should not be undertaken at present for the reasons outlined in the report.



2.      Activity Reports provide regular information about Council activities, so that activities can be analysed and their future direction considered.  They also address the requirements of section 17A of the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA) that regular reviews be undertaken of the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions.

High-level description of Activity

3.      Museums is a Community Services Group activity managed in-house with service delivery provided by the Museums Division and asset management functions facilitated by the Community Facilities team.


4.      Museums incorporates the provision of:

·       The Dowse Art Museum (exhibitions, events, education, collection care, venue hire, retail)

·       Petone Settlers Museum (exhibitions, events, education, collection care)

·       Community Arts (advice, support, events)

·       Little Theatre venue hire

Reason for the review

5.      This review is required because two years have passed since this Activity was last reviewed.

Rationale for service provision

6.      The strategic documents which guide the delivery of services for this activity are the Leisure and Wellbeing Strategy 2012-2032; the Community Services Group Strategic Plan; the Arts and Culture Policy 2016-2021.

7.      Common goals across these strategic documents that inform the delivery of the Museums Activity are:


·       To deliver the best core local government public services in New Zealand.

·       To renew and revitalise Hutt City’s network of community facilities.

·       To improve the quality of life and wellbeing of those living in high deprivation communities.

·       To promote and facilitate urban growth and economic development 


8.      The Museums Division has also been active in the Making Places CBD Urban Renewal strategy and projects.


9.      These services where possible should be delivered in an integrated manner, working in partnership with other Council services, community organisations, government agencies and/or the commercial sector.


10.    The Museums Division works frequently with Council teams including Libraries, City Promotions, City Safety and Economic Development; with community organisations such as Rotary clubs; with central government organisations such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Creative New Zealand and Te Papa; and with commercial sponsors for various activities, including Dulux and Format Print.

Governance, funding and service delivery

11.    Hutt City Museums is a division of Council.  The Director, Museums is a Divisional Manager within Council.


12.    Hutt City Museums comprises two institutions, The Dowse Art Museum and the Petone Settlers Museum; the Little Theatre; and Community Arts activity for Council.

13.    The Museums Division contributes significantly to Hutt City’s vision of “a great city to live, work and play” by providing high quality and affordable recreational facilities, events and experiences. These services help make Lower Hutt an enjoyable place for residents, and an attractive destination for visitors to the Wellington region and people seeking to relocate.

14.    Hutt City Museums contributes to the following community outcomes:

·       Actively engaged in community activities

·       Strong and inclusive communities

·       A strong and diverse economy

·       An accessible and connected city

·       A safe community

·       A healthy and attractive built environment


15.    Providing museums enables people to freely access cultural and social experiences that enrich, inspire, and offer a range of lifelong learning opportunities.  Museums act as a focal point for the community, enhance cultural life and diversity, and promote civic pride and community cohesion. Museums are safe and stimulating public spaces, which can be used by individuals, families and groups.  Museums collect, preserve and share our cultural and social histories: they are storehouses for the community’s shared cultural wealth. Our museums are local leisure sites, as well visitor attractors for Lower Hutt.

16.     Providing facilities like the Little Theatre meets the needs of community groups and cultural organisations for space to present their work, and provide local and visiting audiences with cultural and social experiences.

17.     Providing community arts support brings vibrancy and connection to Hutt City’s social environment, supports the development of local arts practitioners and organisations, and enables other parts of Council and the community to benefit from engaging with arts, culture, and cultural organisations.

18.     Council provides these services because participation in recreation and cultural activities positively affect people’s lives. Providing these high quality services at low user cost makes them available to the whole community.  Museums act as a focal point for the community, promote civic pride, and attract attention to the city nationally and internationally. Quality recreation services are critical factors contributing to resident’s quality of life in Hutt City.

Description of services

19.     Hutt City Museums comprises two institutions, The Dowse Art Museum and the Petone Settlers Museum, which are open to the public at no charge.

20.     The core business of both museums is the development and delivery of quality exhibitions and related visitor programmes aligned to the needs and expectations of local and visiting audiences.  Both museums also care for, develop and make available collections of local and national significance.

21.     Museums education programme is part-funded by a Ministry of Education LEOTC contract.  These contracts are provided to cultural organisations that can deliver curriculum-related programmes in enriching environments. Hutt City Museum’s programme is focused on the social sciences curriculum, and runs across both museums. Our target for 2014-2016 was 8,500 students attending programmes per year. Our 2017-2020 target is 5,500 students per year. A reduced target has been agreed between Hutt City Museums and the Ministry to ensure meaningful relationships are developed with schools and students, and that schools that are not accustomed customers for this service can be prioritised.

22.     Hutt City Museums oversees maintenance and development, and manages venue hire, for the Little Theatre in the War Memorial Library complex.

23.     The Museums division delivers the Community Arts portfolio for Council. This is unusual: other Councils usually have stand-alone Community Arts units (or simply do not provide this service).  One full-time staff member is employed in the Community Arts Advisor role.

24.     Revenue generating activities in the Museums division include:

·       Venue hire of Little Theatre

·       Venue hire at The Dowse

·       Retail at The Dowse store and Petone Settlers Museum

·       Café leases at The Dowse and in the War Memorial Library complex.


25.     One full-time staff member is employed to manage venue hire.  The retail manager role is combined with the Front of House team leader role in a single full-time position.

The Dowse Art Museum

26.     Established in 1971, The Dowse is widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary art galleries and as New Zealand’s top craft and applied art institution.

27.     The Dowse runs a programme of temporary exhibitions, which run for between 3 and 6 months.  Working across 6 different gallery spaces The Dowse typically offers between 15 and 18 exhibitions per year.

28.     Exhibitions are accompanied by public programme events, which range from creative workshops to expert talks.  A new programme introduced in the past year has facilitated weekly visits by Taita and Stokes Valley libraries customers.

29.     Nuke Tewhatewha, the historic pātaka associated with Naenae and Te Atiawa chief Wi Tako Ngatata, is the only item permanently on display at The Dowse. It is our most unique and most significant treasure. Of the 7 such pataka carved in support of the Kīngitanga (Māori King) movement in the 1850s, this is the only one to survive.

30.     The Dowse cares for a collection of over 3,200 objects, including what are probably New Zealand’s most comprehensive contemporary jewellery and ceramics collections. More than a third of exhibitions each year feature works from the collection.

31.     Both our face to face visitor surveys and the annual Communitrak survey show high repeat visitation to The Dowse (over 70%). In 2016 our face to face survey showed an increase in first-time visitors, from 19% to 29%.

32.     In 2016 our face to face surveys indicated approximately 65% of visitors came from outside Lower Hutt. Of these, 65% said visiting The Dowse was their main reason for visiting Lower Hutt.  Approximately 60% of non-Hutt visitors were from the Wellington region, and 40% were from further afield.

33.     Major exhibitions over the past three years include Legacy: The Art of Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Liu Jianhua (international art from China), Seraphine Pick: White Noise, and Wunderrūma: New Zealand Jewellery.  There have also been two iterations of SOLO, the biennial exhibition of new work by Wellington region artists, and two Shapeshifter sculpture festivals.

34.     In addition The Dowse facility offers a range of venue hire services for events such as corporate events, community meetings and weddings; food and beverage services through a café lease (a separate commercial operation); and the MINE gift shop.

35.     The Dowse’s primary revenue generating activity is hireage of three venue spaces. In the 2016/16 FY hireage was at 74% of capacity.

36.     Following a tender in 2016 in 2017 a new local operator is taking over the lease on the café space at The Dowse. The café will be closed for a period for an extensive refurbishment.  A name and opening date are still to be announced at the time of submitting this report. During the refurbishment a temporary service will operate.

37.     Work is also taking place to improve the entrance to The Dowse. Currently, the entrance way is poorly located and difficult to detect for new visitors looking at the front of the building. The front entrance will be re-located and a new wooden structure added to the front of the building to provide shelter and to visually identify the entranceway. CAPEX funding of $148,000 is allocated to this project. It is timed to coincide with the café refurbishment.  Work is scheduled to take place in May 2017.

38.     The Dowse will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021.

39.     The most significant future CAPEX development for The Dowse is $800,000 scheduled for collection store development in FY 2021/22.


Petone Settlers Museum

40.     The Petone Settlers Museum, established in 1977, collects, cares for and shares the social history of Petone and the lower Hutt Valley, with a special focus on early Maori and European settlement. It is a repository of the local community’s memories and history and makes these available to people of all generations.

41.     Petone Settlers Museum is housed in the Wellington Provincial Centennial Memorial building on the Petone foreshore, opened in 1940. The building has a commemorative Hall of Memories and two small wings that originally served as a bathing pavilion.

42.     The museum has historically centred on the story of early Māori and European settlement of the Pito-one area, but other stories of the environment, industry, sport, culture and settlement are also told.

43.     In 2016 an extensive external refurbishment of the building restored original features and the original colour scheme, and opened the view out onto the harbour again.

44.     At the same time the static exhibition at the museum (which had been in place unchanged for 5 years) was overhauled.  The new display has an approach of many ‘modules’, which can be more easily updated on a regular basis. For example, there is a new ‘Street’ module, in which a different Petone street’s history and contemporary culture will be researched and displayed.

45.     Extra funding was approved in 2016/17 for a fixed-term one-year Community Curator role for the museum, along with a small amount of programme funding.  This initiative has been highly successful, with many new partnerships formed, new exhibitions planned, and community groups engaged.  (Attached as Appendix 1 to the report.)

46.     Monthly visitation to Petone Settlers Museum has increased by an average of 42% since reopening in late April 2016.

47.     The Petone Settlers Museum collection consists of just under 3,000 items, of which approximately 40% are photographs. The collection is securely stored, but much work is still to be done on correctly cataloguing and housing it, and on ensuring we are adding contemporary objects to the collection for future generations.

Community Arts

48.     In July 2013 a Community Arts Advisor position was added to the Museums division.  This role acts to facilitate between the Council and community arts groups / local art practitioners (across all forms) to enrich the city’s cultural life, build community connections through art activities, and assist local artists and arts groups to develop sustainable careers/business models.

49.     The Community Arts Advisor administers Council contracts for local art groups; works with other parts of Council on a mural programme designed to engage youth, reduce graffiti and increase community pride; and supports and coordinates a mentoring programme and a local artists network.

50.     Events core-funded by the Community Arts budget and managed by the Community Arts Advisor include the annual Summer in Dowse Square performing arts programme; two iterations of the Common Ground temporary art festival (2015 and 2017) and the forthcoming Winter Festival (mid 2017). These events are designed to increase opportunities for local practitioners to present their work, to help build the local arts infrastructure, and to increase access to arts experiences for the Hutt community. The Community Arts Advisor works with several Council units to produce these events.

51.     The Community Art Advisor has been extensively involved in facility developments, including the Walter Nash Centre (commissioning community art projects and works by local artists for the building, including the motifs on the exterior concrete panels) and the Stokes Valley Hub project.

52.     The Community Arts Advisor also administers the Creative New Zealand (CNZ) Creative Communities programme. CNZ allocates funding to local government, which is distributed to arts groups and practitioners undertaking community art projects. Decisions are made by a panel of local arts practitioners and representatives.

53.     The current funding for Community Arts is $65,000, plus one full-time role (the Community Arts Advisor) and supplementary funding for identified projects provided through the annual planning process.

54.     The Arts and Culture Policy objectives are:

·       Provide opportunities for participation and access to arts and cultural activities

·       Foster cultural enterprise / secure Hutt’s creative future

·       Create, preserve and enhance public places and nurture public art, heritage and culture

55.     The Community Arts and Culture Advisory Group (CACAG) have provided community input on Community Arts projects and needs, including input of the Arts and Culture Policy update.  In 2017 the CACAG will be replaced by the Arts and Culture Subcommittee, made up of four elected officials and five community representatives.

56.     From the 2017/18 financial year forward we see the emphasis of Community Arts shifting from organising and delivering events and programmes to supporting groups and individuals in the community to develop and present their work, match professional arts practitioners with community groups to deliver community led cultural development projects, build audiences and increase audience access, and develop skills and career opportunities.


Little Theatre

57.     Little Theatre is a 300 seat proscenium arch performing arts theatre, part of the War Memorial Library complex.

58.     Fees at the Little Theatre are purposefully kept low to enable use by the community. In the 2015/16 FY hireage was at 57% of capacity.

59.     CAPEX work this year is planned to bring Little Theatre in line with health and safety standards and improve the experience for users and audiences. A group of community users was assembled by last term’s Councillor Branch to provide guidance on users’ needs and expectations for this refurbishment. The majority of health and safety concerns were addressed immediately. We are currently waiting on quotes/proposals for the wider refurbishment work, including resurfacing the stage and improve sound and lighting infrastructure.

Current and future risks likely to have a significant impact on this activity

60.     Any changes in central government priorities and strategies that reduce funding to arts organisations, including Ministry of Education (funding to the Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom (LEOTC) programme which funds education programmes in museums and galleries), Ministry for Culture and Heritage (funds capital projects and commemorations such as WW100) and Creative New Zealand (funds artist projects, publishing and professional development).

61.     Reduced mainstream media arts coverage (especially in daily newspapers) reduces ability to reach a general audience and increases need for paid advertising.

62.     Changes in Health & Safety legislation with flow-on costs for venue hirers, e.g. likely to require mandatory technician support for Little Theatre hire.

63.     Extreme weather events and earthquakes: particularly affecting maintenance, visitor and staff safety, and opening hours for Petone Settlers Museum; and risk to collections and items on display, particularly at The Dowse.

64.     Rising costs for maintaining and operating a heritage building and a specialist building, and storing collections appropriately.

65.     Lack of staff resource and budget to digitise and put collections online means community is not fully benefitting from these resources.

66.     Growing expectations of immersive, interactive and digitally-delivered experiences at museums, which are costly to create and maintain.

67.     Growing expectations of direct community involvement and partnership with museums, which require significant staffing availability.

68.     Potential pressure on venue hire revenue with more hireage going to the new events centre. 

Current performance against KPIs compared to historical and peer benchmarks

69.     Hutt City Museums performance against KPI measures




Results 2015

Results 2014

Number of museum visits per year (combined)





Residents’ satisfaction with the Dowse Art Museum*

≥ 93%




Residents’ satisfaction with Petone Settlers Museum *

≥ 93%




Annual number of visitors to The Dowse from outside Lower Hutt^





Percentage of the art collection on display.





Number of new exhibitions held at The Dowse and Petone Settlers Museum.


15 (The Dowse)

Full exhibition refurbishment PSM

17 (The Dowse)

0 (PSM)

21 (The Dowse)

0 (PSM)

Number of participants on school and community education programmes.#




LEOTC: 8,640



LEOTC: 8,323



LEOTC: 8,798

Satisfaction with school and community education programmes. +

90% satisfaction




* Hutt City Council Communitrak Survey, % of 'Very / Fairly Satisfied' excluding the 'Don't Knows'

^ Based on voluntary face to face visitor surveys

# Students and children participating in Museums education and outreach programmes

+Based on Learning Outcomes Outside The Classroom (LEOTC) evaluation forms



70.     Resident satisfaction comparison (based on publicly available figures for other Wellington region cultural institutions)


Target 2015/16

Result 2015/16

The Dowse Art Museum

Resident satisfaction is ≥ 93%*


Petone Settlers Museum

Resident satisfaction is ≥ 93%*


City Gallery Wellington

An average of 90% of visitors rate

the quality of their experience as

good or very good


Wellington Museum

An average of 90% of visitors rate

the quality of their experience as

good or very good


Expressions Whirinaki

90% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied


Pataka (Porirua)

Maintain community satisfaction with levels of service across all groups of activities provided by the Council


* Hutt City Council Communitrak Survey 2016, % of 'Very / Fairly Satisfied' excluding the 'Don't Knows'

71.     Benchmarks against peer institutions (based on publicly available figures for other Wellington region cultural institutions).


72.     Note:


·     This Council is the only Council in the Wellington region to include Community Art in its Museum division/unit.

·     This Council is the only Council in the Wellington region to include a stand-alone facility like Little Theatre under its Museums activity (although Expressions in Upper Hutt is a purpose-designed dual performing and visual art centre).




% Council expenditure

Visitation 2016

Number of exhibitions 2016


Hutt City Museums



15 exhibitions at The Dowse; full refurbishment of Petone Settlers Museum

The Dowse art collection and Petone Settlers Museum social history collection

Expressions Whirinaki (UHCC)



Not reported

Small art collection

Pataka (Porirua)

Not available^



Small art collection; small social history collection

City Gallery Wellington (WCC)*

Wellington Museum (WCC)*




No collection


2 temporary exhibitions; development of ‘The Attic’.

Social history collection, approx. 55,000 items

^ Community and Leisure Services (including arts and heritage, libraries, sports field and cemeteries, accounts for 28% of PCC’s budget. No further breakdown is available.

* Wellington City Council is a core funder of Experience Wellington, the trust that manages City Gallery Wellington and Wellington Museum. Approximately 2% of WCC’s annual expenditure supports the provision of museums in the Experience Wellington portfolio, excluding Te Papa and Carter Observatory.


73.    Museums account for 2.3% of all Council expenditure


74.    Museums Financial Summary

Account Type














User Charges





Other Revenue





Total Revenue












Employee Costs





Support Costs





Operating Costs















Total Expenditure








Net Surplus(-) / Deficit








Capital Expenditure - To Replace Existing Assets





Capital Expenditure - To Improve Levels of Service








Total Capital





75.   The prospective income statement is attached as Appendix 2 to the report.

76.    The financial statement for projects planned is attached as Appendix 3 to the report.

Adjustments that could be made to user charges and service levels to increase or decrease these by 5%

77.     Options for service delivery cuts if 5% less rates funding was provided for this activity are:

·        Reduce number of Community Arts programmes

·        Reduce number of exhibitions at The Dowse

·        Reduce events and outreach programmes

·        Freeze exhibition changes and collection care work at Petone Settlers Museum

·        Reduce opening days for Petone Settlers Museum

·        Increase charges for venue hire

78.     Options for increased service delivery if 5% more rates funding was provided for this activity include:

·        More international exhibitions at The Dowse. With the new hotel and event centre underway, 2018-2020 would be the ideal time to invest in higher profile exhibitions aimed at attracting out-of-region visitors.

·        Digitisation of The Dowse and Petone Settlers Museum collections

·        Increase national and international awareness by marketing both museums to domestic and international tourists

·        Increase outreach work from The Dowse and Petone Settlers Museum with schools, Libraries and community groups

·        Provide more community art events and programmes, with a focus on enlivening the CBD, community hubs and suburban centres

·        Create a new position focused on Māori history, art, language and community outreach: to support education and exhibition programmes; improve kaitiakitanga of Nuku Tewhatewha; to grow relationships with marae, schools, kohanga reo, kura kaupapa.

·        Begin proactive collecting for Petone Settlers Museum (currently all additions to the collection are donations, and tend to be historical items: new resourcing could enable the creation of a collection that reflects contemporary life in Petone and the Hutt Valley)


Comparison of any significant fees or charges against peers

79.     Comparison of entry fees and charged special exhibitions (with other Wellington region museums and galleries)


Free general entry (Y/N)

Charged art exhibitions past 3 years

The Dowse (HCC)



Petone Settlers Museum (HCC)



Pataka (PCC)



Te Papa (WCC and central govt)



City Gallery Wellington (WCC)



Wellington Museum (WCC)



Expressions Whirinaki (UHCC)




80.     Touring shows (Dowse exhibitions hired by other museums/galleries) are charged at between $3,000 and $18,000 per venue with $3000-$5000 being a typical fee range.  Prices are commensurate with peer organisations. Revenue fluctuates according to suitability of touring shows and national demand. Dowse will also “swap” shows with other galleries, in which case fees are not charged.

81.     Venue hire charges at The Dowse and Little Theatre are matched against other Hutt facilities, with an emphasis on keeping HCC venues within the reach of community hirers. From 2018 we will see what impact the new Event Centre and reopened Town Hall have on demand and pricing for venue hire in the CBD.

Current highlights or issues of significance to Council

82.     As noted, the operation of the café space in The Dowse has changed hands (effective 18 February 2017).

83.     As noted, improvements will be made to The Dowse entrance way in early/mid 2017 (aligned with café renovation)

84.     In the 2016/17 Annual Plan $60,000 was allocated for promoting programs and activities at the recently refurbished Petone Settlers Museum.  These investments have seen visitation at Petone Settlers Museum increase on average 42% per month since reopening; increased visitation has been matched with increased media interest and community collaboration.  A summary of community engagement to date and exhibition changes for 2017 is attached as an appendix to the report.  Making this additional funding will be crucial to the ongoing development of the Museum as a community resource and visitor attraction.  Without this additional funding, activities and programmes at Petone Settlers Museum will likely return to the pre-refurbishment levels.

85.    Media coverage in January 2017 revisited the issue of collections being “hidden away” in the collection stores of Wellington’s cultural institutions. As this report shows, Hutt City Museums consistently achieves KPIs showing The Dowse’s collection. Appendix 4 shows The Dowse’s 2017 programme and notes which exhibitions will feature collection items. Investing in digitising The Dowse collection and making it freely available online would be the most cost-effective way of significantly increasing access to and knowledge of the collection.

Reasonably practical options for the governance, funding and delivery of this activity

86.     This report identifies potential governance models for the Museums activity.

87.     Option 1 is the status quo, with The Dowse Art Museum, Petone Settlers Museum, Little Theatre and Community Arts managed as a division of Hutt City Council.

88.     Option 1 enables direct oversight of Museum activity by Hutt City Council as core funder.  It enables Museums activity to be closely aligned with other Council activities (from tourism promotion to city safety). It also means Museums activity has access to in-house Council services, including Finance, IT, HR, and legal services, saving external costs.

89.     Option 1 also makes Museums activity directly accountable to the ratepayer.

90.     Option 2 would be to retain provision of Little Theatre and Community Arts by Council; to transfer The Dowse and Petone Settlers Museum to an external trust or trusts whilst retaining ownership and responsibility for the museums’ buildings; and to maintain core funding for the two museums at current levels.  This would create distance between the Museums activity and other Council facilities, services and projects; increase costs for support services such as finance, IT and HR; reduce the collaboration between Museums staff and other Council units; and create a layer of governance between ratepayers and the Museums activity.  Option 2 would potentially create new funding lines for The Dowse and Petone Settlers Museum if established as a registered charity.

91.     An example of Option2 is Experience Wellington (formerly Wellington Museums Trust).  Experience Wellington is the registered charity that receives the majority of its funding from Wellington City Council to run six cultural sites/services including Museum Wellington, City Gallery Wellington and Space Place (formerly Carter Observatory). Experience Wellington has an independent board of 5, (including one Councillor) who receive financial compensation.  The organisation employs 6 executive and administrative staff in addition to three directors managing the six sites, and various levels of staffing for each site.

92.     There are a number of variations possible for Option 2, such as to reduce core funding for the two museums below current levels.  This would likely make continuing current service levels untenable; would force Hutt City’s museums to compete against other local causes for charitable funding; and would reduce accountability to ratepayers as Council becomes one of a number of funders.

93.     Option 2 would require detailed analysis by an external consultant to determine whether it offers any advantages over the status quo.  No budget allocation is currently made for such analysis.  Option 1 is currently considered the most cost effective option for governance, funding and delivery of the Museums Activity for the reasons outlined in section 88 and 89 of this report.







Exhibition programme and community partnerships, Petone Settlers Museum



Prospective Income Statement



Projects Planned: Museums



2017 programme The Dowse Art Museum









Author: Courtney Johnston

Director, Museums







Approved By: Matt Reid

General Manager Community Services