LETTER: Don’t dumb us down

NEWCASTLE council should explain why it is continuing to shackle and attack its excellent art gallery (‘‘Fight over the art of restructuring’’ Herald 1/10).  

Without cultural awareness and pride, a city is an empty place. 

Over 50 years, Novocastrians and generous donors such as William Bowmore, Anne von Bertouch and Margaret Olley have brought together the finest collection in regional Australia, as befitting the nation’s seventh largest city. 

Yet in the past year, council has destroyed the streetscape outside, sabotaged funding for extensions needed to properly display the collection, and now reportedly seeks to downgrade the director to a ‘‘cultural facilities manager’’.

 It is plain delusional to believe that a ‘‘facilities manager’’ responsible also for the museum and Civic Theatre will have the expertise, time or credibility to ensure that the gallery achieves the national standing that it rightly deserves.

 I wondered at the time why the art gallery was not recognised as a key element in the Revitalisation Strategy and was even more puzzled at council’s failure to press the NSW government for a small share of cultural funding to match the federal government’s $7million grant. 

Even if some councillors do not swim, they still have a responsibility to look after pools; even if they do not care for the arts, they still have a responsibility for the city’s cultural life. 

Is it now council policy to dumb us down?

 Howard Dick,

Toronto

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