City approves hiring of museum curator/manager

By Kirk Winter

Kawartha Lakes council approved the hiring of a curator/manager in the next two to three months who will have a very broad portfolio of responsibilities assisting the many cultural organizations in the city.

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Taylor, with the help of numerous senior staff, shared four possible options with council regarding the request from the Olde Gaol Museum Board who asked for financial assistance in hiring full-time staff for the 2021 season.

Taylor suggested to council the following options:

  • The status quo, where the city assists the Lindsay-based museum with building and operations costs
  • Financial aid in hiring dedicated staff for the museum
  • Acceleration of the Cultural Master Plan to begin a hiring process that would benefit all cultural entities across the city
  • City takes over and operates the museum themselves

Taylor said that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and the city taking over the museum in its entirety is premature.

“We soon need to ramp up the Cultural Master Plan,” Taylor said. “The cultural community is ready and willing.”

Mayor Andy Letham said that council receive the report and accelerate the recruitment for a museum manager/curator.

“This is a very important plan,” Letham said. “A lot of community groups have been working hard trying to figure a way ahead for the facilities they volunteer at. We need to do something that will help all these organizations.”

Councillor Tracy Richardson supported the mayor saying, “We need long term solutions. We have twelve different cultural organizations that need help. I believe this is a proper step at this time.”

Deputy-Mayor Patrick O’Reilly added, “This decision is going to help all the museums.”

O’Reilly wondered what the timeline would be for hiring this new individual and Taylor responded that he hopes the person will be in place for the summer of 2021. Initially the individual will have the primary goal of assisting cultural institutions in applying for provincial and federal grants that weren’t possible before because the museums and galleries had no full-time staff.

Councillor Pat Dunn seemed satisfied when he heard that the new person is not just being hired for the Olde Gaol Musuem, but to assist all cultural institutions including the Lindsay Art Gallery.

Councillor Doug Elmslie, normally a staunch support of culture in the city, opposed the hiring, “We are putting the cart before the horse. We need to complete the Cultural Master Plan. I fear all the museums with be competing for a higher level of service from this new person.”

Letham countered that, “The cultural plan is already approved. This hire will assist programs right across the city.”

Elmslie dropped the issue after saying he would “love to see the job description for the position that is being discussed.”

The CAO reminded council that organizations like the Olde Gaol Museum “had outstripped the ability of their volunteer boards” and that this new person will be a “community resource.”

Councillor Ron Ashmore wondered if the artifacts were safe at the museum and are they being properly curated. Taylor told the councillor “that preservation is going extremely well.”

Taylor had the last word telling council, “We need to have a different model for culture moving forward.”

Council approved the hire and the job search will soon begin.

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