Archives for posts with tag: public programs


Andrew Clark, Deputy Director, Programming and Corporate Services, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

Andrew Clark is the Deputy Director, Programming and Corporate Services at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Clark joined the gallery in 1989 and has worked towards and witnessed QAGOMA’s continuous growth in audience numbers and its importance as an international institution. Clark talks to arts interview about audiences and diversity.

Interview by Alex Bellemore

 QAGOMA has become well known for being an audience-focused institution. How important is audience engagement for the success of contemporary art institutions?

Successful -but also meaningful -audience engagement is at the core of our role. In the last two decades, art museums have undergone enormous shifts in the ways they consider their roles and the potential role of museums in people’s everyday lives. Even more than our desire to do this – our audiences have demanded that we change. There have been many theories, dissertations and critiques as to the nature of this shift, but essentially, it can be summed up quite simply: in the twenty-first century, museums are no longer primarily about objects, they are for people.

What are the most important considerations in your role when developing public programming?

There are a few key considerations: Art, artists, museum and audience. We see the role of the gallery to put audiences in touch with artists and their ideas – to take on different roles for different audiences. The art museum today must have multiple voices and work on various platforms to engage their audiences.

We try and extend audience engagement as far as it can go, constantly thinking about ways to innovate. The overarching philosophy of the gallery’s Children’s Art Centre, for example, is that ‘art is for everyone’, but this notion drives all of our programming, for visitors young and old.

Increasingly, art museums are becoming aware they can  extend their role into the social realm, offering new ways for people to meet one another and have a meaningful experience in the museum while also simply enjoying a good time.  ‘Up Late’ Friday night opening events incorporate live contemporary music, talks and a bar into the exhibition-viewing experience, while theGOMA Talks evening discussions include social media into live events that tackle contemporary topics beyond the arts. Both of these enable a broader engagement with our audiences, and provide interactive opportunities that respond to audiences’ interests and address the competitive market of social interaction that museums now operate within and must acknowledge.

How do you rank the importance of attracting local audiences compared with attracting outer state or international audiences?

All audiences – local, regional, national, international and even virtual – are crucial to the life of the art museum. We are trying to not only attract visitation to the gallery and boost cultural tourism, but also offer ways for those who cannot be here in Brisbane. We are increasingly webcasting our public programs (lectures, discussions and talks) online so that people who can’t make it to the gallery can still experience the program live. We also run a very successful touring program of Children’s Art Centre activities, which is developed specifically for children and families in regional and remote Queensland. This is a very rewarding program that aims to extend the gallery into the home and the community more broadly, and aims to make art a part of the whole community of Queensland, beyond Brisbane. As I mentioned earlier, we have many stakeholders, but we are the state gallery and take our responsibility to the people of Queensland very seriously.

What are the broad diversity considerations and goals for QAGOMA?

Audience diversity is extremely important and we are always looking for new avenues to develop stronger connections with audiences. We do this by providing an incredible array of programs and events including our Toddler Tuesday, New Wave Teens and My Gen 50+ programs to involve the young, the old, and everyone in between. We also undertake a number of initiatives to engage with those who have a disability or impairment, such as our Auslan-interpreted tours. It’s vital we seek avenues to broaden the cultural diversity of our audiences.  Exhibitions like the Asia Pacific Triennial are key to this.

Since the date of this interview, Andrew Clark has taken up a new position as the Deputy Director at the National Gallery of Victoria

steve pozel

Steve Pozel is the director of Object, Australia’s leading centre for design. His career in the arts spans some 30 years beginning in small artist run and regional galleries before moving on to become director of Canada’s most significant contemporary arts centre The Power Plant. Following a business trip to Australia he was offered a position at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art where he worked for 2 years before being appointed as director of Object in 2000. Now in his 12th year as director at Object, Steve kindly sat down for a chat with arts interview about learning and its role in the workplace.

Interview by Vanessa Anthea Macris

Could you describe Object in its current form and where you envision it in 3 years?

The year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Object as an organisation. One of the key motivations for me moving forward over the last few years has been the creation and implementation of our brave, bold vision for the positioning of Object in the future. Our vision is not just a 3-4 year business plan but rather a strategy for Object to be the most relevant of its kind for 2015. This has given me the scope to work with my management team and to talk to over 150 people around Australia in finding out what elements would really make for a dynamic centre of design. Out of this process we have created the 2015 vision which we have been using as a basis to develop all exhibition, creative program, educational, digital, community and touring content. Every decision from here on in is being tailored to get us towards the 2015 vision and the kind of centre we want to become.

Learning is a characteristic of an adaptive organisation. With this in mind what does Object do to support the continued learning of its staff?

I’d say that we run Object like a design laboratory. Every single staff member at Object whether you’re an administrator right through to a producer of creative programs has an almost equal opportunity to experiment, take risks and prototype various projects in the organisation. I’d consider Object one of the most fertile and innovative learning spaces because we think that if we are going to be a place about innovative ideas and concepts that will have an impact on the future of peoples lives, then that’s the territory that we as a group have to be living and breathing. For me this is one of the most amazing jobs I’ve ever had. During my 12 years at Object I’ve been on one of the greatest single learning curves I’ve ever been on and that’s the kind of job I want.

How important is continued learning in the workplace and why?

I think it’s absolutely essential. If there is any organisation that wants to move forward in a progressive and innovative way it has to be the absolute core of what you do. I also think that it’s about holding retention of really good staff, as it’s important to keep teaching and training staff members so that they feel that they’re growing and developing their skills. Continued learning in the workplace is about making staff members feel comfortable that they’re learning things that can be adapted to a whole range of circumstances post their life within the organisation. At the same time its important to have the staff members recognise how very special it is to be gaining new skills and having them wanting to stay with the organisation.

Do you feel that the development of staff is a high priority in the arts sector?

I think that we are very privileged sector because we attract incredibly passionate, dynamic and hugely creative people. A lot of other sectors, including the business sector are looking at the arts and see a sector that with very little makes huge leaps and bounds. Fundamentally, this comes down to the people behind the organisation. Overall, I think that the arts sector does a very good job but I think that it could be doing an even more brilliant job in creating even greater benchmarks for other industries to look to. Innately, we do some very good things but I think that there needs to be a greater level of training within the arts of how to leverage off what we already do so well.

What are the priorities for public programs at Object in terms of education?

We have huge plans and priorities! In fact we just spent 3 hours this morning on that very topic and we probably spend a good 3 – 5 hours every week as a team looking at that as part of our project called Design Emergency, which has been in pilot phase for the last 12-18 months. Design Emergency in a nutshell has seen us work with various stakeholders from universities and schools to the NSW Department of Education in taking design thinking as a process and applying it in an innovative way to look at problem solving. The whole basis of the program is about raising the capacity of kids in schools to be able to deal with issues around them in a much more direct and hands on manner. We’re basically giving them the skills of a designer and telling students that you don’t need to use these skills to design an object or building but that you can use these skills to re-design something that’s not working in your school, home or community.