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Trustees sought to secure Aratoi funds

The painting ‘Triptych: Homage to Rodchenko’, painting by Milan Mrkusich, which sold for $200,000 at Aratoi’s art auction. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

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After raising “well above $100,000” through its art auction in April, Aratoi museum of art and history is setting up a new patrons’ trust in an effort to ensure its future financial sustainability.

It is advertising for trustees for the Aratoi Patrons Trust which will manage the bulk of the money raised from the art auction in April.

The trust will operate separately from the Aratoi Regional Trust, which governs the museum, chairwoman Barbara Roydhouse said.

“Most galleries have a patrons’ trust or a foundation,” she said.

“We’re doing it to provide sustainability for Aratoi.”

The aim is to create a substantial fund that encourages other contributions – with funding provided by the interest generated.

“It’s a financial base to build on, it won’t be instant . . .  [but] it is part of efforts to help ourselves.”

She was at pains to highlight the financial support of Masterton District Council, with which operational funding has been agreed for the next three years, Masterton Trust Lands Trust, which owns and maintains the museum’s building, and Trust House, which provides exhibition funding, as does the TG Macarthy Trust.

“Many companies and individuals see Aratoi as a wonderful community asset worth supporting,” she said.

The Aratoi Foundation, led by chairman Bob Francis, which has provided funding in the past, will shortly be wound up after handover of the ‘Ascension’ sculpture to the council.

Francis said “the timing is right” for the new trust.

“The purpose of the foundation was to fundraise for exhibitions and for the purchase of significant items for the collection and we did that very efficiently.”

It then moved to fund public artworks, including Featherston’s ‘Wind-Grass’ and ‘Ascension’.

Francis said while the change in focus had caused “some consternation”, it wasn’t behind the push for a new trust.

“We had a very enthusiastic and passionate group, but it is probably fair to say that some are feeling they’ve done their dash.”

Roydhouse said after a period where Aratoi’s “financial position wasn’t good”, the outlook was now more positive.

The exact amount raised in the auction would not be made public, she said, in part to protect the privacy of artists, who were able to set their own “return from sale” percentages.

These ranged up 60 per cent.

The big-ticket item in the sale was ‘Triptych: Homage to Rodchenko’, by New Zealand artist Milan Mrkusich, who has since died, which sold for around $200,000.

Expressions of interest for the new trust close on August 1.

“We’re looking for people who have an understanding of finances and the way community organisations have to operate under quite tight finances,” Roydhouse said.

“And they should be happy to do some work towards raising some money.”

Meanwhile, new billboards promoting Aratoi have been erected at both ends of Masterton, featuring images of works by Paul Martinson and John Weeks, from the Aratoi Collection.

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