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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
Canberra's national institutions

BIRKETT, Mr Trent, Chief Operating Officer, National Portrait Gallery of Australia

PAISLEY, Ms Kirsten, Deputy Director, National Gallery of Australia

TRINCA, Dr Mathew, Director, National Museum of Australia

TRUMBLE, Mr Angus, Gallery Director, National Portrait Gallery of Australia

VAUGHAN, Mr Gerard AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia

WORRALL, Mr Adam, Assistant Director, Exhibition and Collection Services, National Gallery of Australia


CHAIR: I now welcome the representatives of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery of Australia to give evidence today. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and therefore has the same standing as proceedings in the respective houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. The evidence given today attracts parliamentary privilege. The deputy chair and I have been charged to collect evidence on behalf of our committee for our inquiry. I invite you to make a brief opening statement before we commence our discussion.

Mr Trumble : It is a great pleasure to be here. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to come. Having studied your terms of reference, I believe the National Portrait Gallery is doing good work in many of the areas that you have highlighted as of particular interest to the committee. We are unusual in being by far the smallest of the national collecting agencies, with only 49 staff at present levels. I am very proud of the quality of the programs that we succeed in delivering in a very tight structural and financial environment.

Above all, we have established partnerships, of which I am particularly proud, with Canberra Symphony Orchestra and with the National Film and Sound Archive to deliver programs that are quite innovative. It is notoriously difficult to attract audiences to programs, concerts and new music, let alone new Australian music. The fact that we sold out a concert of new Australian music in our Australian serious with the CSO is a matter for great celebration. The NFSA and the NPG have mounted as equal partners an exhibition drawn from their collection staged under our aegis and which will tour in two forms: one which requires museum conditions and the other which can be staged really anywhere—church halls, community centres—all over the country and that we are very proud of too. It is a very innovative program. So we feel the NPG is in a good state.

Dr Trinca : Thank you for the opportunity to speak today and for the interest of the committee of inquiry. Like my colleague, we are very pleased and delighted by the successes of the museum in recent years. We start from a fundamental premise, really, that the story of this nation is something that we believe in deeply in all its variation and richness. It's a remarkable story, from the first people stretching back many thousands of years to having welcomed in the last 250 years people from more than 200 nations on earth. That's a story that's important for us as Australians and for our sense of belonging and membership in this national community, but it's also an important part of a global storytelling about the human condition. That's something that we are very committed to—if you like, those twin planks in telling the story of the nation in all its richness and diversity.

In recent years—in 2016-17, in fact—our visitor engagements totalled more than two million, aside from web visits. Almost half of those engagements occurred outside Canberra. So while we had very strong and growing visitor engagement at our Canberra site, we're delighted to see that the reach of the organisation across the country, through touring exhibitions and other programming and indeed overseas internationally, has delivered as much visitation to our programs as at Canberra, our strong hub from which we initiate our programming. At the same time, this year the page views on our website and the capacity people have to visit the museum virtually has grown to the point that more than five million visits have been made to that site.

In recent years two of our major homegrown blockbuster exhibitions on Australian themes—Encounters, which was undertaken with the British Museum in 2015; and Songlines, which is the exhibition we just closed over the summer—have both won national awards for the best exhibitions made by any museum or gallery in the country, of which we are very pleased. In 2016 we won the ICOM Award for the quality of our international work and the relationships that we have around the world.

Since about 2015 more than 25 countries around the world who have been visited by our displays or exhibitions. We have a groundbreaking package of digital displays that are supplied to Australian missions showing Australian content to people wherever they are around the world. Next month, in fact, we have a major exhibition of some of the treasures of this nation, bark paintings from Arnhem Land, that will open at the National Museum of China in Tiananmen Square in Beijing before proceeding on a tour throughout the country.

Our plans for the future culminate in a desire to see the exhibition space at the museum grow. It may interest you to know that at just over 6,000 square meters we would be the smallest of the national museums known around the world. By comparison, the Australian War Memorial has about 13,000 square metres of display space—more than twice as much—and Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, with whom we might reasonably imagine to at least compare—

CHAIR: Or be better than!

Dr Trinca : has about 11,000 square meters of display space. Clearly, to adequately represent the strengths and the vitality of our national story through our collection, we need more display space.

In common with my colleagues, the impact of the efficiency dividend is something that the organisation has been challenged by and has met. It has met that by being ever more inventive and innovative in the way that it has raised funds, but there is no doubt that continued investment of the sort that we need right across the cultural sector is necessary for us to realise the full extent of our master plan, which is inclusive of that aim of doubling the size of the museum.

Can I say in culmination about this that I think the great opportunity for institutions—I commend my colleague Angus Trumble for this as well—lies in greater collaboration between us. We represent a considerable Commonwealth investment as a suite of institutions both within our portfolio and beyond, and I think the capacity we have for collaboration and common endeavour is great. The museum, to that end, was supported by government last financial year to the tune of almost $9 million to establish a cultural facilities shared services centre, and I must say that I am very grateful to my colleagues in the other institutions for their participation in that scheme. That is helping to realise material benefits and free up spend for public-facing programs within those institutions by the sharing of corporate services between us. I do think that that's important as we try to realise this desire to reach publics right across the nation and to involve them in a great sense of nation and national meaning, to accent the sense of belonging that we have as a people, especially in this age, when it seems it's never been more important.

Can I also say I think that all these agencies have a key role to play in the emerging knowledge economy. We have to recognise that arts and culture is not just about Friday night; it's about the core business of nation as we try and build our creative industries. The creative industries sector, the Asia-Pacific, is the most valuable anywhere in the world. An EY study in 2015 showed that the value of the creative industries in this region surpasses that of North America, of Europe, of any other region around the world, at about $750 billion out of a worldwide total of about US$2.2 trillion. That's a massive opportunity for this country. It is one that the national institutions can play a central role in helping to exploit, but it will require government investment of the kinds that I and my colleagues would advocate for in the course of this inquiry and beyond. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you. Mr Vaughan?

Mr Vaughan : Thank you very much. We too are very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the issues that face us and also to give some insights into how the National Gallery of Australia works. In common with my two colleagues, we too are very supportive of the concept of collaboration, shared services, and we're working as part of this part of those groups. Our submission itself covers the key areas of what we do, responds to the terms of reference and talks about our mission and vision.So I won't go into that in detail; I think we can take that for granted. But I will make a few general points, just to set the tone for the discussion that will come.

We really are very much about developing our national collection, showing it, connecting it with the country in a whole range of different ways and sharing it beyond our own country—I think that's very important. Research and education are absolutely crucial, including remote connection, particularly from an educational point of view. We've got a very good track record over nearly 40 years. We do have the largest fine art collection in the country. In fact, it's bigger than the entire collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and the entire collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and there's still some space after that, and that does impact upon issues of funding and space. I'll come onto that in a moment, but it's worth keeping it in keeping in mind.

We are here to hold and display an aspect of Australia's cultural history, and that's to say our visual culture in particular, and we too play a key role, along with all the other agencies, in really standing for and explaining the national identity. Visitors can come to the National Gallery of Australia and go away with a great knowledge of our national identity, looking at the Australian collections, the Indigenous collections that we have, which are remarkable, and of course the international collections, because we certainly see the international collections as a very important part of what we do and they connect us and Australians with our own region, particularly the Asia-Pacific. But, of course, we go we go far beyond that. We do have also—if I can keep referring to a little bit of hyperbole—what is recognised as the largest and the best Indigenous collection in the world, and we do see it as a special responsibility to grow that collection and to share it, because we see the concept of sharing as absolutely central to everything that we do. We've recently given new emphasis to contemporary art, both Australian and global contemporary art. And if our funding position improves in years to come, we have some interesting ideas and plans in that area.

Every year we send out well over a thousand loans; the average is about 1,200 or 1,400. This last year in fact we have loaned 1,600 works of art to regional galleries throughout Australia through travelling exhibitions, to the state galleries and to overseas. In the last financial year—we worked it out quite carefully—if you include individual works, but we often lend groups of works to exhibitions, throughout Australia and throughout the world about four million people stood in front of works of art that belong to the National Gallery of Australia, and we're really proud of that, I have to say. The travelling exhibitions program has been going now for a couple of decades, and we particularly target smaller regional centres. For us it's not about numbers. We actually seek to send works to small communities that would not normally have access to the national collection. Either later this year or early next year—we're waiting to see what happens—the 11 millionth regional visitor will come to one of the National Gallery of Australia's travelling exhibitions. It's a very, very important part.

We do collect and display the work, as I've said, of the rest of the world, with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, and for us cultural diplomacy is very important. We've worked with our own department and with DFAT to send exhibitions to other parts of the world, as of course have my colleagues, especially the National Museum. Only last week our deputy director, Kirsten, was in New Delhi to open a major exhibition of Indigenous Australian art, and that's a very important step for us to take, because our relationship with India, for a whole range of reasons, is a very important one. And a slightly smaller version of that exhibition opened in Berlin at the end of last year, and that was a big success too. So we're taking Australian visual culture to the world, and we do see that as part of what we're here to do.

I will just make a general comment about our funding issues, because I'm sure that in this discussion I can drill down into some of the detail, which you may be interested to have. But, in common with all the other agencies, we have had a very difficult few years and indeed a very difficult few decades, but I'll give you some detail on that later on. I think that our hope, in common with many of the others, is that some way could be found to relieve the smaller agencies—and what number of employees, ASL, that might be, it's not for me to propose, but maybe under 300; that's a separate issue. The removal of staff in these smaller agencies has a particularly serious impact, and we've had to suffer from that in recent years. Of course, the big one that occurred at the end of 2015 required from all of us—it was across of course the whole of the APS—some very, very specific reactions. We've come out of it very well. Through this period in fact, over the last three years, the visitation of the NGA has gone from about 630,000 a year through the front door to nearly 900,000. By the end of next weekend it's possible that we'll just nudge 900,000. We're very pleased about that, for a Canberra institution. But, as I said, I'll come on to some details of that later on.

What we really would like to feel—and I did hear the end of the discussion with Brendan Nelson—what is important is certainty of planning; therefore, to know that, if the efficiency dividend can be removed from the arts agencies, we have certainty for our planning processes. We know that there's not going to be another surprise around the corner which will throw everything into chaos again. So we would certainly say that, if the efficiency dividend could be lifted, we would be absolutely delighted. Give us a baseline, give us CPI, and we'll do everything in our power to do the rest. We have a very strong track record in raising non-government money. In the last year about 42 per cent of the gross revenues of the National Gallery of Australia were nongovernment. But we need to make a distinction between operating and capital, and a certain proportion of that 42 per cent is the value of donated works of art, which we're delighted to have, but they're not cash.

Ms BRODTMANN: And they cost too.

Mr Vaughan : Absolutely. Of course, there is a cost associated with them. I'm sure we'll come to all this, but I suppose what we're really saying is: if we can be liberated in this way, it will give us a tremendous base on which to go forward—a base with certainty.

In terms of space, just picking up again my colleague's comment, we certainly are planning for a new storage area—that's essential—and that came up in the ANAO report. For many years we've been talking about the need for a new wing for the NGA. In 2010 we opened, of course, the Indigenous wing, which had a new foyer and spaces that we could rent and earn income from. Now we do need to expand. Of all the galleries in Australia, as I mentioned before, we've got by far the biggest collection. But, if you take the major institutions, particularly those in Sydney, in Melbourne and in Brisbane, we have by far the smallest building. It's a real problem for us, because we cannot do justice to the national collections. We try and we try; we turn things over now more regularly than we did in the past, but that costs more money and puts more pressure on staff, but that's the best way we can respond to this chronic lack of space—and it is chronic.

We need better for the national collection, and that feeds into the educational role that we can play for visitors to Canberra and visiting school groups. We've got some really good ideas for the future, so I think we're feeling very positive about everything. Perhaps if I have one message to deliver in this discussion it is just if we could be relieved of the impact and effect of the efficiency dividend.

CHAIR: Understood. I'd like to open up. These questions are going to sound naive. I mean them to, because I'd like to step away from individual institutions. Many of you have actually addressed these in your opening statements, which is good. What is the strategic importance, the national importance, of the existence of these institutions? Why does it matter if they're there or not? That's why I said the questions sound naive. My view is that we need to talk about their importance in the strategic sense of having greater understanding of our nation's story, and many of you have raised today the international aspects of that, which hadn't occurred to me before now, but why is it important?

Dr Trinca : I think there's never been a more important time, when you look at the global flow of ideas and the discourses that are available now through the internet, for people to consume, particularly young people in our country. Without a sense of belonging, without a sense of national meaning and a sense that our country matters on the global stage, which draws in the aspects in the natural relationship that we've been speaking about, I think it's very hard for people to negotiate the kind of terrain that we have ahead. I think we all know that, if you feel centred and you feel a sense of where you are and what the meaning of that is, our lives proceed in a very different way from how they would otherwise, and that's true of our membership of the national community. I do see the capacity that Australia has to tell its story abroad is in the national interest, in terms of our economic trade and strategic relationships, but it's also important for Australians to see that their story is a part of a global human record and to understand what we give the world in terms of its capacity to tell the story of humanity in all its richness and diversity. And, God knows, every time we're overseas—I'm sure this is true of my colleagues—we're asked about it incessantly: how has Australia managed what it has managed over the course of recent years? Who are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of our country? I think, when Australians see us being on the front foot and actually expressing those ideas of nation and who we are as a community in all its variation and richness, then it does something for us materially. But it also does something in terms of extolling the virtues of our national story domestically as well. So the two are tied, and I do think that you're right: this is the great question about why our institutions exist and what we believe we give the nation that nowhere else does.

CHAIR: This is a roundtable hearing. It's designed that, if somebody has said something you disagree with, you put your hand up and say so. If somebody says something and you very much do agree with them or want to reinforce the point, it's not the usual hearing style. What is the impact on a citizen who comes to your institutions and the variety of the institutions? What kind of citizen are they when they leave after visiting a series of institutions here in Canberra? And compare that to a citizen who doesn't have that opportunity, who doesn't come, who doesn't get to experience a variety of your institutions. What's the difference in those two citizens?

Mr Vaughan : First, might I say I agree with every word that Dr Trinca has just said. Take it for granted that it was a very, very helpful and clear and concise position to set out about what we do. Visiting a museum of art like the NGA, the first thing you see when you walk in is the Aboriginal Memorial of 1988, which is one of our great national monuments. It's a very wonderful thing, and it's one I always like showing not just school groups, if it falls to me, as it does on occasion, to meet school groups and take them around, or at least introduce them to the gallery, but also VIP visitors from other countries. It's a very good starting point. It makes a strong point about our nation and the role of Indigenous culture. Then, above, of course, we have the suite of Indigenous galleries. I do see the contemporary Indigenous art movement as really important for Australia, for who we are, because it's one of those things that every Australian knows about, whether they're Indigenous or non-Indigenous, and every Australian is proud of. I think it's a wonderful sort of bonding and binding thing.

It's wonderful to take small groups through the Indigenous galleries but also to then show them the Australian galleries, which are prominently displayed now on the main level when people come in, because they can then absorb the story of Australia. Every kid wants to go and see the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan, because they've got to write an essay on it when they get back to their home school and whatever. And, of course, they want to see Blue Poles for a whole variety of reasons, because it's a notorious and famous picture, and that's very good—

Ms BRODTMANN: And fabulous.

Mr Vaughan : And fabulous. I will actually go back to 1966, if I might, just for a moment. I can talk for hours but I won't. I'll close this down in a moment. In 1967 the governor of Australia—we just had the 40th anniversary—took the decision to have an Australian Council and a National Gallery of Australia. That came from the Lindsay report, which was brought down in 1966—the year before. Whether or not we should have a national gallery for Australia was a big argument. I've been researching this a little bit myself. What's the point, in a paddock on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, of having a great art gallery? Why would we do it when we've got, for example, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, which has the riches of the Felton bequest? There were serious debates about whether or not there should be a national takeover of the National Gallery of Victoria, which would have been quite good in terms of the title I must say, but I'll move on from that.

One of the really interesting things about the Lindsay report was it said that we must connect with our own region and it set out to say that it's not only about Australia and Australian visual culture; it's about introducing Australians—and this was really radical for the time—to the art of the Pacific. We've got to go out and collect the art of the Pacific nations—and we've got fabulous collections. We've then got to collect South-East Asia and South Asia. To a certain extent, we'll leave the great Chinese and Japanese collections to the historic galleries in Melbourne and Sydney, although we collect everything of course.

My feeling about the citizenship issue is that you come out with a sense of excitement, 'Wow, this is my country'. You have all the great Federation landscapes and you think about the moment of Federation you think about colonisation the gold rush—whatever you want to think about. There's something there, depending on your teacher, but you also come out realising that we're part of the global humanity and we are a great multinational country, and it's wonderful to see. With school groups you can very often tell where kids or their parents might have come from and that wonderful sense of the multinational aspect of Australia as school groups wander through. So that's my answer, I think.

CHAIR: So pride, inclusion—

Mr Vaughan : Understanding.

Mr Trumble : I fully endorse the remarks of both my colleagues. I will go back even further and make the point that in 1824 when a site was chosen to establish the National Gallery in London, an institution from which, to some degree, many of us are descended directly. The choice of site was Trafalgar Square specifically because it was close enough to east London for the poorest Londoners to walk there and easily accessible by coach for the richest Londoners to drive there. But that upon arrival everybody would gain access, mount the steps and enter the National Gallery on an equal footing, free of charge, in perpetuity to be transformed by the power of original works of art. That was a founding principle of that great institution, and it's one that I often feel needs to be reiterated.

This was 1824, the unreformed House of Commons, nevertheless, created something quite new with a socially transformative power from which we are, to some degree, descended. Equity of access is a very important principle that all of us, I think, subscribe to. Ideally, we belong to the people of Australia and we provide access to everybody. Art, in our case, is for everybody and material culture is for everybody. If the academy gives a different impression, we try and counteract that. I'm always struck and heartened when people say to me that they've found their visit to be enjoyable, stimulating and that it stimulated their sense of national identity. But crucially, access free of charge to everybody no matter who they are because they are our proprietors. It's a valuable principle.

CHAIR: This is a very important segue, because what I'm trying to establish is how important it is to our citizenry that that access is there. In each of your institutions, do you survey the people that are attending your institutions? Is there a particular characteristic—education level, age, gender, postcode, ethnicity? Are there gaps that we need to address because there are significant portions of our citizens who are not getting the access that they need in order to feel that sense of pride, inclusion and place in what the national institutions are delivering?

Mr Vaughan : Chairman, can I ask my Deputy Director, who has responsibility for education programs, to comment on that?


Ms Paisley : Absolutely. At the National Gallery of Australia, we obviously have a range of programs that we deliver across the nation, internationally and here in Canberra, so the visitation statistics are skewed according to what you're talking about. At the National Gallery, we service around 80,000 school visits a year and have a guiding group of over 140 guides that deliver five guiding programs a day. The programs are tailored specifically to the people who are walking through the door. Our visitation changes greatly, depending on the program. This actually goes to the heart of audience needs and visitor needs. The programs are tailored specifically to needs at times and to a broader demographic at others. We find, for example with our major exhibition program, the visitation demographic is entirely dependent on the product or the content of the exhibition itself. For example, our summer major exhibition drew a much broader audience from the ACT region itself—70 per cent of visitors to that project were from the region here—whereas the Cartier project is drawing people from right across the country. You do see a different demographic. We saw a much more gender equality in the visitation in the summer period to what we're seeing now.

CHAIR: I can understand that.

Ms Paisley : But there is generally a skew towards women visitors. We service school groups right across the board. What we would like is to be able to offer greater subsidies to all schools to visit the national collection in the way that other institutions are able to in the ACT, such as Parliament House and the War Memorial.

CHAIR: We might come to the topic of pay as a separate discussion point as well.

Dr Trinca : There are commonalities between all of us in terms of the audience reach we have and the different groups where there is a preponderance of visitors drawn from, versus others. Like the gallery, we have very a extensive program around school visits. In any given year between 85,000 or 95,000 school students come through our doors. They are given programs in the way that my colleagues described. It's also true that in the museum there is a great emphasis on a very wide demography of interest. What I mean by that is there's not a lot of differentiation of socioeconomic strata of the draw that we would have for audiences. It's the nature of the institution that it ranges so broadly across Australian life. When you have an exhibition, such as the one we had on the Centenary of Rugby League some years ago, it sometimes draws audiences that might not otherwise have imagined themselves going to a gallery or a museum. We're very proud of that: the very, essentially, democratic nature of a museum that's dealing with the breadth of the Australian story in that way.

I say again that there are some challenges. The obvious challenge that all of us would talk about is holding young people between the ages of about 16 and 25. There is always a great hollowing out of audiences of that age group. All of us, and certainly the National Museum, now have programs devoted to trying to involve those audiences in what we do. There are nights when we open the museum. We change the quality of programming to draw people, very expressly, in the under-30 category. They have been successful in broadening the reach of institutions like ours and indeed then taking those programs across the country using digital means but also touring exhibitions. The program that is actually occurring, say, with partner institutions, of the sort that we do with the Western Australian Museum and the South Australian Museum, is one way of being able to take the story of the nation as represented by the National Museum into other quarters.

There's no doubt that those efforts are directly related to the level of resource that we have available for these sorts of activities. When we talk about the challenging circumstances that we face, I think we would all find projects—in this camp particularly—that we could pursue more assiduously save for the fact that the resources are sometimes limited.

Ms Paisley : I might just add that I completely agree. I think that at the Gallery we have 200,000 of our visitors participating in an event, a public program or a tour of some kind. They are walking through the door not just to look but to participate. That really goes to, I think, your previous question about the role of the museum in civic life and individuals' lives. Our idea of identity is not fixed, and the demographic of Australia is not fixed either; it's constantly changing. The great thing about our institutions is that they're sites for the exchange and creation of ideas—in our case through visual art for our visitors. The ability to nuance programming to specific audience needs is a key to the democratic underpinning of the institution.

CHAIR: It's interesting that one of the other witnesses this morning said that in order to attract somebody to an institution they need to see part of themselves in there. That might have been a bit general.

Dr Trinca : I would be surprised if we didn't all agree.

Ms Paisley : I think that's the truth.

CHAIR: That is very interesting to me. I kind of turn my attention to what sections of our Australian community I would like to see embrace and understand our national story. Perhaps I've been thinking about what groups probably don't see themselves as much within the institutions, and I think of newly arrived Australians. What strategies do you have in place in relation to encouraging newly arrived Australians and perhaps having something where they can see part of themselves to get them at least to Canberra to see those other parts as well?

Dr Trinca : Seeing yourself in the exhibition in the Museum or the Gallery is part of this.

CHAIR: That's why rugby league got an exhibition.

Dr Trinca : Yes, that's right. Great museums work by a kind of twin play of affirmation of the self. In my opinion, you need to be able to find something that you know or that resounds with you and some challenge taking you to territory that you don't know. An exhibition of the sort that we have at the moment—that joint project with the Vatican and the Sharjah Museums Authority in the Middle East, So That You Might Know Each Other, which really shows some treasures of the Islamic world drawn from those collections and, indeed, some Australian works that we've added into that collection—means that you have an audience that's wholly unlike the kind of audience that we might see for Rome, our blockbuster that's coming up in September. So there is no doubt that the quality of programming and the variation of your programming draws audiences of different kinds in the way that you've described, and I think that there's a very strong emphasis—certainly with us—on trying to ensure that the program represents the richness of this country's multicultural population. After all, it's a wonder that there are more than 200 nations or 200 languages represented in this country by virtue of the people who have made this place home from various parts of the world.

CHAIR: Do you find it difficult to attract newly arrived Australians to Canberra? Is there any research or surveys of whether or not coming to Canberra is part of their immediate plans?

Dr Trinca : I think some of the research actually shows that in fact newly arrived Australians are sometimes more likely to visit Canberra than established ones.

CHAIR: I'd be interested in that.

Ms BRODTMANN: To latch onto the identity.

Dr Trinca : For instance, the figures on Chinese inbound tourism generally—short term as well as long stays in terms of students—show that already Chinese inbound to Canberra are our strongest international market, and that exceeds the condition of Chinese tourism to Australia nationally, which is second after New Zealand. So we've already surpassed that in the national capital, and we know that the figures that we have available to us show that that number will treble. It's really a very substantial sum—I think about 1.4 million Chinese short-term tourists a year, which will rise to 4.2 million in 2025. I think there is some indication that groups from backgrounds other than the Anglo-Celtic core, if you like, find themselves really drawn to the idea of the nation's capital and are an important part of the future market here.

Ms Paisley : I might just add, one of the great things about being in Canberra is of course our consular network and the ability to work with embassies from around the world and, at the NGA, to offer our incredible premium eventing spaces to colleagues for cultural events if they are wanting to partner with us or present within the National Gallery itself. The second way in which we represent the multiculturalism of the Australian community is of course through our collections. As Gerard mentioned, we set out to represent not only the art of Australia but also the out of our region in South-East Asia, the Asia-Pacific and the great 20th and 21st century movements globally. So just thinking about the collecting work we've done in the last few months, we've collected work from the Philippines, from Indonesia, from Japan, right across the globe really, and these are works that have some resonance with the diaspora communities here in Australia as well.

Mr Vaughan : It might be worth adding an interesting footnote in terms of diversity of audience. It might sound counter intuitive but the Cartier exhibition is drawing one of the most diverse audiences we have ever had. We know, from talking to our visitors, that people who never come to museums or galleries have decided to come and see the Cartier show. That's very interesting. I agree with everything that Kirsten has just said. It is nice to see groups, sometimes national groups, who come through the Asian holdings of the NGA, and many national groups who are based in Canberra come and have events there for certain festivals, such as the Indian community. There are dance festivals and we can use the collections for other countries from South and South-East Asia.

Mr Trumble : I just go back to a point that Matt made. We too hanker after an improved degree of access to the 16 to 25 demographic—it is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to drag them over the threshold. A hundred years ago, art museums made a radical step at the vanguard of social reform, which was to acknowledge the existence of working people by opening at the weekend. Today, if you work in a job Monday to Friday, and we open our doors at 10 o'clock in the morning and close at five, at best you have a reasonable opportunity to visit at lunchtime but you are actually more likely to be thrown back onto the weekend. My own feeling is that, thinking 20, 30, 50 years from now, we absolutely have to rethink the ways in which we open our doors to the community to take account of not only the fact that we are competing with other forms of recreation and entertainment and diversion but to break down that sense that we are really only there during working hours, when most people really have other things to do. Whether it be opening at noon and closing at eight or nine or whether it be opening 24/7, which has been attempted very successfully by institutions with major blockbuster exhibitions. There are people, believe it or not, who want to go to an exhibition at 2:30 in the morning. We have to be open to those kinds of ideas but that is something that I think all of us would welcome but it is beyond our capacity at the moment with the kinds of funding implications that that would entail in terms of penalty rates, staffing, security requirements and so on. I think we do have to be open to a really thorough-going rethink about how we provide access to public in a time of rapidly evolving social usage. Having been at the vanguard a hundred years ago, I think we are starting to fall behind in how we see ourselves standing in respect of community access.

Dr Trinca : Just to endorse what my colleague says, with A History of the World, the exhibition that we brought from the British Museum last year, we opened over January into the evening, and I had expected that there would be strong patronage but not of the sort that we saw. I think on Australia Day we were open till midnight, and we had to usher people out at 10 to 12. The other interesting thing about it was that those non-traditional hours allowed you to reach younger people. One of the defining features of that show, for me, was that were a lot of people—perhaps counterintuitively, as my colleague was talking about—that came from the 16 to 30 age group, disproportionately from what we might have expected for an exhibition that was dealing with very strong conventions around historical understanding and a very great collection in very conventional terms. It showed me that, when the exhibition is right and when the quality of the work is very high, young people will come to these places, if you give them the opportunity for access.

Mr Vaughan : Certainly we agree totally that there should be occasional late openings, if not regular ones. There is a risk involved in terms of the costs.

Ms BRODTMANN: I just want to make a comment, because unfortunately I don't have time to ask any detailed questions. Just getting back to that access issue, you make a very good point in terms of the fact that nearly 200 years on from that original concept in Trafalgar Square, we do need to look at new ways of access, but it's not just in terms of youth, absolutely. I'm thinking about going right back to that East London group. One of the most powerful exhibitions I've seen in a very long time was Dempsey's People.

Mr Trumble : Thank you very much.

Ms BRODTMANN: I loved that exhibition so much I went three times. I don't know whether anyone saw it, but it was miniatures of a very colourful collection of people. Just the story about how it came into being was extraordinary—how you managed to get those very special treasures, the fact that they were held by one person for so long and no-one knew about it. It was an amazing exhibition, so congratulations.

Mr Trumble : Thank you very much.

Ms BRODTMANN: What I loved about it most was that sense of people seeing themselves there. These were a colourful assortment of individuals in sort of Dickensian England, but they were people doing it tough. They were people with tough lives. The stories really resonated with me. They were so powerful. They stayed with me till now. I think that there is a lot of work being done in the multicultural sphere. Again, in the photographic exhibition you've got now, you've covered that very well. In terms of subcontinental Australians, I don't think there's enough representation, apart from Shivas. That's a very large population now. There's not enough representation of them in what we see, or in terms of the Chinese population, as you mentioned. I think that we do need to be doing more on that, but we also need to be doing more in terms of representing Australians, which is why the Rugby League exhibition is so important—representing Australians from, really, all walks of life. I'm thinking here about trading hours and tradies. They're starting work at 6 am and they're finishing at four, so there's an option there. But opening at five—I don't know. But, if we are genuine about access and going right back to that principle of nearly 200 years ago about the East Londoners of the world, I think we do need to think about the representation of those sorts of people—the Dempsey's-type people—in our national collections, in our national institutions. But it was a very, very special exhibition, so bravo.

Mr Vaughan : One of the things that can work very well, and I've done it in another role, in another art museum, is to find funding to bring people in from special groups. When we looked at who came from where, with a pin of a certain colour on every school that came regularly, there were great areas where no-one ever came from, and these were suburbs—I'm not talking about Canberra now—with very high migrant populations, where the parents were working too hard and the schools couldn't afford to hire the bus. Making that really easy and bringing communities in was a very, very powerful thing to do. There must be some version of that that could apply in Canberra.

CHAIR: There is the PACER program—just your quick reflections.

Dr Trinca : I was just about to mention in that context that clearly, with the PACER program kind of freeing up the way that we support schools in coming to the major cultural institutions, that is warranted. I've always found it, quite frankly, unaccountable that the National Museum, which details the breadth of the Australian story and which invites people to develop a relationship to the idea of the national polity through understanding their own experience as part of the national story, is not a mandatory visit on the PACER program. I think we need enhanced support for school groups to visit all of our institutions and encouragement to visit each of the offerings that we present to the public, which quite frankly draw their strength from our distinction. The important thing we hope that we might have conveyed today is how important it is for each of our missions to be understood as having some commonality but also being distinctly different. There's great strength in that diversity of the cultural offerings in Canberra and I think we should be encouraging school students, but also the broader public, and inviting them to that conversation with us about what it means to live in the country.

CHAIR: The other matter is just generic. Different parts of your collections relate to similar themes. There is the Film and Sound Archive, for example. Would there be any benefit in having a generic exhibition space within the National Capital area? I use this example: I think next year is the year celebrating Indigenous languages. For example, there could be, in a generic exhibition space, a variety of a whole range of institutions' collections. There wasn't much appetite for that this morning when I spoke to the Library or the Film and Sound Archive. What are your thoughts?

Dr Trinca : We lend to each other based on our exhibition programs already, and actively. All the public collecting institutions across Australia have a reciprocal relationship with respect to the loan of artwork. As Gerard mentioned to begin with, we loan well over 1,500 works every year to other national collecting institutions for their exhibition programs. I think that works well in terms of sharing our collections and making sure that tangential stories can be told through all of the collections available to us.

Mr Vaughan : We had a recent exhibition on Streeton, 'The art of war'. He was an official war artist. That was effectively a de facto collaboration between the War Memorial and the NGA. We borrowed very, very extensively from their collections and it was a very good model, in fact. The museum has significant Indigenous collections and we have significant Indigenous collections, and we certainly swap and move things around.

Dr Trinca : I think there is greater opportunity, quite frankly, to do things of the sort that you're describing, across the collections of the institutions. With respect to enlarging the exhibition space of the National Museum in the way that I've described, I and my colleague, whom you met this morning, Jan Muller, have been discussing how we might work very actively to bring the collections of the National Film and Sound Archive and our own together in a common facility on the Acton Peninsula, which we think would meet their interests around a new facility. I think it exploits the capacity of both collections to speak to each other. Imagine a painting crane from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which we hold in our collection, set against a very large-scale projection of wonderful 1930s Commonwealth film unit footage of the creation of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mr Vaughan : Possibly three paintings we own.

Dr Trinca : Indeed. You immediately get a sense of the possibilities of bringing these collections together in ways we haven't seen yet. And, if we're talking about genuinely different work of the kind that we can do across our institutions for this century, with a line set down by the past for our institutional mandates and interests, I think we have to be prepared to range across those and consider how we can bring our collections into greater conversation in the future. So I do think there's an opportunity for us to work more actively together to bring those collections together, beyond the very excellent work that we already do in terms of lending collections to each other.

Mr Trumble : In terms of a shared generic space—and not wishing to sound a gloomy note—we found that actually to foster and bring to fruition an absolutely equal collaboration between two institutions involved quite a deal of cultural adaptation between both. If we were talking about a shared space that all seven or eight or nine of us were involved with, I foresee some difficulties in how to maintain it, how to fund it, who will staff it, where it will be cared for—perhaps I've been in this job too long, but they are just pinging into my mind one after the other. So it is hard enough for us to care for our own facilities now, let alone to contemplate sharing one between all.

Mr Vaughan : Angus has had the courage to say it!

CHAIR: It was just a thought—

Ms BRODTMANN: That was the subtext whenever we've raised it.

CHAIR: The message has been loud and clear, but my imagination is now running wild.

Dr Trinca : Can we say something in respect of our collection storage issues?

CHAIR: Yes, please do.

Dr Trinca : Quite frankly, all of us have got very pressing issues around the storage of collections, but I do think it is genuinely one area where, by coming together, preserving the interests that we each have in the particular material types that we have, we might be able to solve the Commonwealth's very real and considerable problem around national collections being adequately stored, not just in my own institution but in Gerard's and Angus's and beyond.

Mr Vaughan : And save a lot of money along the way. There are many examples of that in other places.

Ms BRODTMANN: Can you come up with some ideas on that?

Mr Vaughan : Yes, we can.

Ms BRODTMANN: Some submissions have touched on storage, but others haven't. So, if you've got a collective idea, then let us know.

Mr Vaughan : We'll move fast.

Dr Trinca : I don't think we have any shortage of ideas on how we could work together to solve our storage needs. It will simply require the Commonwealth to invest in it.

Ms BRODTMANN: We heard from the Archives today that 40 per cent of their budget is spent on storage.

Dr Trinca : Indeed.

CHAIR: Thank you for your attendance here today. If you've been asked to provide any additional information, please forward it to the secretary by Friday, 6 July 2018. You'll be sent a copy of the transcript of your evidence and will have the opportunity to request corrections to transcription errors.