20 Feb 2017

Maintenance costs weigh on Len Lye Centre

4:07 pm on 20 February 2017

The Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth says it needs a dedicated budget of about $100,000 to keep its kinetic sculptures moving.

Len Lye Centre director Simon Rees with the newly unveiled work 'Fountain'.

Len Lye Centre director Simon Rees with 'Fountain'. Photo: SUPPLIED

In a report to the council, centre director Simon Rees said it currently paid for maintenance out of its exhibitions budget and there was a lack of suitably trained engineers to do repairs.

"We need a dedicated funding stream for the kinetic sculptures to reflect audience demand for them and the fact that these are things that break down."

Len Lye's signature sculpture "Blade" is not working at present and "Trilogy" was out of action for a few days in December.

The council has a budget of $4.16 million annually for the Len Lye Centre and the gallery itself raises more than $650,000.

Mr Rees said a maintenance budget could come from a corporate sponsor or the Len Lye Foundation, and did not have to mean the council would need to extend its funding.

New Plymouth city councillor John McLeod said the shortfall in funding for maintenance strengthened the case for the introduction of door charges at the gallery which was currently free to enter.

Mr McLeod said entry charges were common place for galleries and museums in Europe and what ever arrangement was made for maintenance costs, ratepayers should not have to bear them.

Mr Rees report to council also highlighted that the centre - the only one of its type in New Zealand dedicated to a single artist - had been a runaway success with the public.

Since the $11.5 million art museum opened in July 2015 almost 230,000 people have visited it - way ahead of expectations - and in the recent holiday period between 26 December and 8 January an average of 900 people went through the doors everyday.

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