Farewell to the Collections Council of Australia

Delivered at the function to mark the closing of the Collections Council of Australia, April 21 2010

Welcome to everyone who has attended these last rites.

Well the last rites are still to come with various meetings with auditors, lawyers and what not but they are more like the events after the curtain is drawn whereas these are is the more public rites.

Earlier today I was reflecting on the amount of time the Board, CMC, arts officials and others had spent reviewing CCA and thinking about its future.

I suspect that the all up opportunity cost was probably more than our annual budget.

So when we farewell CCA and think about what it did right and what it did wrong it is also worth remembering that the organisation never had a budget of more than a few hundred thousand dollars – less than the Federal Government spends on defence procurement overruns in a day.

Yet from the Significance project, the digital summit, SAGE, the Australian Collecting Organisations Register, and our wiki project we achieved a lot.

Perhaps our most significant achievement was also a failure – our inability to win the time and the money to develop a detailed, sustainable model for funding and structural support for the Collections sector.

If we have a legacy – which I think we have – that might be the most important part of it. The planting of an idea that governments and community need to explore new national ways to fund collections at systematically higher and more sustainable levels is a major priority for not only the sector but Australia as a whole.

I have to admit we had our critics. The NSW Arts Minister said we had lost our funding because of our performance and effectiveness. As I said to a journalist at the time – if the NSW Government has become the arbiter of administrative and other effectiveness then perhaps we are all in deep trouble.

On the other hand we had many supporters, many volunteers, many hard-working contributors, many people in arts ministries and the sector who helped us to achieve what we have.

I want tonight to thank you for coming.

I also want:

To pay tribute to Margaret and all the staff over the years– they did an amazing amount with extremely limited resources.

The directors – past and present – and my predecessor, Sue Nattrass, who is here tonight also contributed enormously through very difficult times.

The collections sector is amazing – it enlightens, it entertains, it educates, it contains everything important about our national past and present.

Whether CCA is here or not, the need remains for innovative cross-sectoral policy, lobbying and promotion work to ensure all Australians and Australian governments are aware of just how amazing.