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Uncertain future for Art Gallery of NSW Director Michael Brand

Uncertain future for Art Gallery of NSW Director Michael Brand
April 21, 2017

The future of Art Gallery of NSW Director Dr Michael Brand is shrouded in uncertainty after the institution's board declined to renew his five-year tenure for another full term, citing pressures over its controversial $450 million Sydney Modern expansion project.

Dr Brand's contract, which expires in June, was extended for a further 12 months only, prompting claims that his days were numbered at the gallery.

Fairfax Media art critic John McDonald suggested "it is hardly a vote of confidence in him.”

Board of Trustees President David Gonski said the decision not to renew Dr Brand's term for a full five years was based on public service rules, introduced in 2014, requiring long-term senior appointments to be first advertised widely.

However, undergoing that process and making Dr Brand reapply for his job while he was seeking donors for Sydney Modern could destabilise the plan, he said.

Gonski told Fairfax Media that Brand was a "strong arts administrator" who brought "strategic vigour and creative clarity" to the gallery.

Dr Brand’s tenure at the Art Gallery of NSW has seen him champion the controversial Sydney Modern plan which would double the gallery's size, with spaces for large-scale exhibitions, a restaurant and function centre.

However, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has labelled it a "land grab" entertainment complex "masquerading as an art gallery".

A failure to attract sufficient public benefactors for the proposal has left questions hanging over the ambitious development with suggestions that Dr Brand might depart his role if funding for the extension is not secured.

His relatively time in post - following predecessor Edmund Capon's 33-year term - has also been marred by increasingly sour relations with the Art Gallery Society of NSW.

Annual visitor numbers to the gallery since his appointment in mid-2012 have fallen by 11%, to under 1.3 million. 

Image: Dr Brand with an architect's model of the Sydney Modern.

29th March 2017 - NEW AUSTRALIAN ART UNVEILED AT SYDNEY’S PREMIER CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS

18th January 2017 - SYDNEY’S TOP EXHIBITIONS AND ART EVENTS STAYING UP LATE

21st April 2016 - SYDNEY CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS LAUNCH NEW BIENNIAL SURVEY OF AUSTRALIAN ART

24th February 2016 - FORMER NEWCASTLE ART GALLERY DIRECTOR BOUNCES BACK AT ART GALLERY SOCIETY OF NSW

7th October 2015 - FREE CHILD ENTRY DRIVES RISE IN HOLIDAY VISITS TO SYDNEY MUSEUMS

27th May 2015 - ART GALLERY OF NSW REVEALS WINNERS OF DESIGN PROJECT FOR $450 MILLION EXTENSION

18th January 2015 - NSW CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS FAIL WORKPLACE DIVERSITY TARGETS 

27th November 2013 - STUDY REVEALS THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC ART MUSEUMS

22nd March 2013 - ART GALLERY OF NSW’S EXPANSION TO SUFFER FROM LACK OF FUNDS? 

11th February 2012 - MICHAEL BRAND NAMED NEW DIRECTOR OF NSW ART GALLERY

24th December 2011 - EDMUND CAPON ENDS STELLAR ARTS CAREER


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