Review launched into galleries and museums’ services

Review launched into galleries and museums’ services

December 19, 2021

The state government has launched a review of the back of house services of the Sydney Opera House and Art Gallery of NSW and other major cultural institutions.

Consultancy firm Deloitte has been engaged to investigate “corporate and common services” across all agencies inside the Department of Premier and Cabinet, except for “integrity agencies” such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Audit Office.

Corporate services of Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney Opera House, Australian Museum and Powerhouse Museum are under review. Credit:Destination NSW

The Opera House, Powerhouse Museum, Australian Museum and Art Gallery of NSW, and State Library all sit within the department.

News of the review comes as the leadership of Create NSW, the government’s arts, screen, and infrastructure agency, has come under fire from within.

A leaked internal staff survey from October shows fewer than one in five bureaucrats were confident in how grievances, changes, and recruitment are managed within the agency. The disaffection lies with senior leadership and not middle managers. One-third said they had witnessed bullying, and one in five had experienced it.

While the organisation rated well for customer service, teamwork, diversity and wellbeing, eight per cent approved the way change was managed within their department.

Department of Premier’s deputy secretary Kate Foy told a recent budget estimates hearing that a two-year restructure of Create NSW had not concluded.

“Sadly, Create NSW has become an organisation rife with division, uncertainty, politicisation, and political interference,” Labor’s Walt Secord said.

Create NSW said it had a zero-tolerance policy for workplace bullying. All employees had a right to come to a workplace that was free from bullying, discrimination, and harassment.

As a result of the findings, the Create NSW executives had begun immediate work to address and resolve issues identified, including how change is managed, to ensure staff can continue to deliver a workplace that is welcoming and respectful, a spokesman said.

Mr Secord also called for ICAC to properly investigate the claims of Sydney Symphony’s former chief executive, Emma Dunch, that she had been targeted by a hit job.

Dunch departed the flagship orchestra she had led for four years threatening to take a case of harassment to government “corruption channels”.

Meanwhile, the Create NSW spokesman said Deloitte’s survey was intended to “identify opportunities, learnings, and best practice processes”.

Consolidation of these functions was “currently” not being considered, the spokesman said.

But there is an expectation that payroll and finances will be brought within the department to make budget savings given the $19 billion deficit. There is an expectation that increases to operation budgets – money which funds the exhibitions, shows and programs that go inside a museum or gallery – will in future be contingent on cultural institutions identifying corporate savings.

Two weeks ago, a fact-finding survey was sent from the chief financial officer of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Devlin Bell, to executives of key government galleries and museums.

“The review aims to make it easier for agency and cultural institution employees and leaders across the Premier and Cabinet cluster to deliver agreed outcomes and value for their customers,” the Create NSW spokesman said.

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