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Decision time ahead for Aratoi

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

News that Aratoi Art and History Museum is staring a serious financial crisis in the face has come as a bolt out of the blue and is sure to alarm many people in Wairarapa and indeed many from wider afield, who enjoy visiting the facility.

The chairman of the Aratoi board Frazer Mailman fronted up to the problem in an interview with the Times-Age yesterday and didn’t try to either gloss over, or overplay the situation.

He didn’t need to as the facts alone make it abundantly clear the future of Aratoi hangs in the balance, at least as the facility we now know it to be.

The nub of the problem is simply that Lands Trust Masterton is pulling back on its grants funding and has let the board know it will not be receiving $100,000 it had been expected to help its operating costs, nor its regular $20,000 exhibitions grant.

That news has come as a body blow for Aratoi and at next Friday morning’s board meeting the whole future of the art and history museum goes on the line.

Mr Mailman has made it clear the financial shortfall now facing Aratoi cannot be simply absorbed and that at the very least changes will need to be made if Aratoi is to survive at all.

He hit the nail on the head during the interview when he said the people of the Masterton district now need to take stock of the situation for themselves and to decide whether they want Aratoi to maintain its role as it has been doing.

If they do then, he says, there has to be “some collective responsibility” as the board has done all it could in the last few years to live within its means, and still provide top end exhibitions for people to enjoy.

It is fair to say Aratoi has had its fair share of knockers ever since the doors opened in 2002.

It is also fair to say some of its problems were brought on itself, the one that springs to mind being its excessive claims of visitor numbers.

But those days seem to be behind Aratoi now and perhaps it’s time for Masterton to get behind Aratoi.

 

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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