War Memorial funding crisis?

johnboy 14 December 2010 12

bellona

Canberra’s Liberal Senator Gary Humphries has announced that he’s had his hands on the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Red Book (briefing for incoming governments) which is ringing the alarm bells hard on funding for the War Memorial.

Senator Humphries has even provided two pages from the book. Which does have alarming sounding quotes:

The Memorial has long recognised the need to reduce activities so as to operate within the available funding. This has led to an ongoing review of programs and staffing levels, with no option but to reduce both. In an attempt to insulate front-of-house activities from budget pressures, behind the scenes activities have been savagely cut over a period of several years. This strategy cannot continue as it carries with it considerable risks that must be recognised, including significant stakeholder dissatisfaction, damage to the Memorial’s long standing reputation, potential for audit criticism, unstable staffing, and potential difficulties meeting legislative obligations.

The Memorial is facing potentially constraining, if not crippling, financial circumstances.

Bear in mind though that the DVA has in the past pushed a lot of it’s own archival tasks onto the War Memorial and has an interest in attracting more funding through one of the few sexy parts of its portfolio.


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WalkTheTalk WalkTheTalk 11:12 am 16 Dec 10

I worked at the War Memorial from 1994 to 1998 in a variety of roles (mainly front of house) and have been back a few times since leaving.

It is many things to many people. ‘Thumper’ you are spot on with your comment – it is both a memorial and museum. During my time at the AWM, I spoke to tourists from all over the world. Many admitted they had nothing like the AWM back home. I was told they have museums and memorials, but they’re usually separate.

Some adult visitors enjoy reliving childhood visits – the dioramas are a classic example, the sub and other military vehicles that used to be in the western courtyard and climbed all over were sorely missed at that time.

Others are drawn in by the audio visual displays – it’s what they relate to. Museums are often forced to evolve to stay relevant to younger visitors. As WWI has passed from living memory this (AV displays) is also the only way to convey the message of those who were there.

Asides the inclusion of the eternal flame, the tomb of the unknown Australian soldier, and the names of far too many who died in wars Australia has fought in, and the relocation of the dedication stone and the army serviceman statue – the commemorative area has gone unchanged for quite some time. That will always be the traditional focus of our respect to those who died. The galleries will be where we try to gain a small insight into what they went through.

It would be interesting to see what impact the War Memorial Foundation (an annual subscription for members among other activities) has had into funding for the AWM.

An entry fee for the galleries (never the commemorative area) has been considered on and off for some time. Many visitors expected to pay to enter, instead they were invited to make a voluntary donation. With this expectation in mind and to keep the AWM’s services running, what are people’s thoughts on introducing a fee for (only) the galleries?

walkerj walkerj 3:01 pm 15 Dec 10

troll-sniffer said :

The institution would be far more dignified if it scaled back the public show and reverted to a solemn memorial, whose function is primarily as an archive and research centre. But that wouldn’t suit the media-driven guvmnt pushing nationalism would it?

It’s one of the most visited institutions in Canberra, even my kids rave about it, which takes some doing when it comes to cultural institutions. Scale it back, turn it into a solemn memorial and make Canberra even less interesting to visitors.

Sonja Sonja 6:04 am 15 Dec 10

I like it as it is. We just don’t value it enough, I think, or are too cheap to open up our wallets and give a little of our money to such a lovely place.

The cat did it The cat did it 10:52 pm 14 Dec 10

The War Memorial had a period of relative largesse tanks to John Howard’s support when he was dog-whistling and trying to recast Australia’s military history in line with his preferred, flag-draped narrative. This, at a time when those who had actually experienced World War 2 were aging and dying out, and so wouldn’t be in a position to criticise JH by telling how it REALLY was.

Now it’s back to more normal funding levels, which is never comfortable.

DBCooper DBCooper 7:05 pm 14 Dec 10

“Does anyone else find the whole concept of the War memorial has gone over the top? “

Considering that it is a war memorial and a war museum, not at all.

+1 Thumper

Respect

Thumper Thumper 6:18 pm 14 Dec 10

“Does anyone else find the whole concept of the War memorial has gone over the top? “

Considering that it is a war memorial and a war museum, not at all.

Pandy Pandy 5:13 pm 14 Dec 10

troll-sniffer said :

troll-sniffer said :

Does anyone else find the whole concept of the War memorial has gone over the top?

+1

Nope

old canberran old canberran 1:52 pm 14 Dec 10

troll-sniffer said :

Does anyone else find the whole concept of the War memorial has gone over the top? Last time I visited I came out depressed by the over-indulgence of the displays, not the material or purpose of the memorial. It certainly does not have much left of the solemn shrine that was its initial raison d’etre, the shrine is still supposedly a focal point but is in fact more of an ancillary item to be glanced over before heading into the galleries to see the glorification of stupidity.

The institution would be far more dignified if it scaled back the public show and reverted to a solemn memorial, whose function is primarily as an archive and research centre. But that wouldn’t suit the media-driven guvmnt pushing nationalism would it?

+1

dvaey dvaey 1:40 pm 14 Dec 10

JessP said :

Dear Lord People, Oprah sent her people there…..OPRAH SENT HER PEOPLE THERE!!!

Fund it immediately for however much it needs.

If Oprahs mob were charged for admission, and made to pay for their tourist merchandise, maybe things like this wouldnt happen. But dont worry, Oprah will make millions of people visit there, so give it 6 months and they’ll be overflowing with money, just watch….. or dont you trust the governments tourism marketing ideas?

JessP JessP 1:02 pm 14 Dec 10

Dear Lord People, Oprah sent her people there…..OPRAH SENT HER PEOPLE THERE!!! Fund it immediately for however much it needs.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 11:52 am 14 Dec 10

Does anyone else find the whole concept of the War memorial has gone over the top? Last time I visited I came out depressed by the over-indulgence of the displays, not the material or purpose of the memorial. It certainly does not have much left of the solemn shrine that was its initial raison d’etre, the shrine is still supposedly a focal point but is in fact more of an ancillary item to be glanced over before heading into the galleries to see the glorification of stupidity.

The institution would be far more dignified if it scaled back the public show and reverted to a solemn memorial, whose function is primarily as an archive and research centre. But that wouldn’t suit the media-driven guvmnt pushing nationalism would it?

JessicaNumber JessicaNumber 10:11 am 14 Dec 10

Canberra museums need to stop spending money on video displays and graphics and just display the historical artifacts with small explanatory notes.

Actually the War Memorial generally does a better job of that than the National Museum, but still, there’s plenty of unnecessary decoration and gleaming plastic fitouts. Icky!

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