Aratoi military exhibition cost revealed

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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: A visitor checks out the Featherston Camp centenary exhibition at Aratoi Museum in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE
: A visitor checks out the Featherston Camp centenary exhibition at Aratoi Museum in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE

The cost of staging the Featherston Camp exhibition at Aratoi has been estimated at $245,350 a Masterton District councillor has revealed.

Brent Goodwin sought information through the council over the exhibition costs, which include the exhibition being on display for a time in Featherston.

The tunic of instructor Sergeant William Totty is a on show in the exhibition. PHOTO/FILE
The tunic of instructor Sergeant William Totty is a on show in the exhibition. PHOTO/FILE

Community facilities and activities administrator Deanna Elwin provided Mr Goodwin with the information, saying the council had been advised that Aratoi director Alice Hutchison had succeeded in securing grant funding to cover the cost.

After learning the estimated costs figure, Mr Goodwin asked a series of other questions by email seeking a breakdown of where the grant funding had come from, how much had been contributed by Aratoi itself and who had done the curating for the exhibition at what cost.

Ms Hutchison replied she had been the project leader and primary curator liaising with families, producing most of the text and imaging, overseeing design and production, construction and fabrication, transporting collected items from around the country to Masterton, securing grant funding, marketing and public relations.

She said there had been "curatorial input" from Tony Rasmussen of Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History in Palmerston North and from Neil Frances of the Wairarapa Archive.

Mr Rasmussen had also produced an education kit for schools.

Ms Hutchison said grants had come mainly from the Lottery Grants Board which contributed $162,850.

In her reply, dated February 29, Ms Hutchison said final costs were still coming in for the Anzac Hall, Featherston programme and that a breakdown of costs would be made available to Masterton District Council in due course.

Aratoi Regional Trust Board chairman Frazer Mailman said Ms Hutchison put the budget together using her experience and taking into account the time it took to bring everything together.

He said the exhibition was a major one and the director had been very successful in attracting funding for it.

The imaging used on walls had been a particularly high cost, Mr Mailman said.

He said he and the board were "sick and tired" of Mr Goodwin's "obsession" with Aratoi and everything the museum did.

"He has for years questioned everything from visitor numbers to our history programmes and even staffing.

"Mr Goodwin's attacks are impacting on Aratoi's reputation and are commercially undermining us.

"Most people look on Aratoi with some favour and see it of being of value to the community," Mr Mailman said.

He said a story quoting Mr Goodwin published in a metropolitan daily newspaper recently misrepresented Aratoi.

It had attempted to link Aratoi and the funds it received in council and community funding to the closure of music venue King Street Live.

"The closure of King Street Live was nothing to do with Aratoi.

"It was a private business and certainly should not have been funded by council money," Mr Mailman said.

The Featherston Camp Centenary Exhibition 1916-2016 opened at Aratoi on January 22 and will run until July 31.

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