With changes to Art Gallery of New South Wales membership, there are more opportunities to engage with us in different ways.
‘I think being part of the community and being able to give back to the Art Gallery are the most fulfilling parts of being a member,’ says Brian Greenacre, president of the Art Gallery’s members organisation, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales. ‘This big, wonderful group of members who we meet at events or even just strolling around the Art Gallery are so special. Being able to participate in this wonderful community, enjoy the art and the fantastic location, gives us all so many opportunities for a deeper level of interaction with the art and with Sydney’s art scene.’
Changes to membership categories will soon make it easier for members to tailor their experience to their interests and needs. Responding to feedback from members through comprehensive consultation conducted via surveys, interviews and focus groups, the 16 former categories of membership have been streamlined to four distinct options.
‘We haven’t made a change like this for more than ten years, so it was a good time to look at the feedback we’ve received from members, various councillors (both past and present) and a number of other people, and consider what’s best practice moving forward for an organisation like the Art Gallery Society,’ notes Greenacre. ‘I think having these different levels of options available for everybody means that we have the ability to customise and keep things relevant to the membership base.’
‘We want to make it easier for members to support the Art Gallery in the best way possible,’ says Robert Heather, executive director of the Society. The four new categories – Explore, Connect, Inspire and Champion – are aimed at different levels of engagement with the Art Gallery, giving members the chance to contribute in a way that suits them, at a pricepoint that fits.
Asked about the choice of names for the new categories, Heather explains, ‘The new names are active. Members are active in the ways they support the Art Gallery and in terms of their interest in the arts. We wanted to make it clear that by being a member you are making a statement about your passion for the arts. We hope members can see themselves in these categories.’
‘Inspire’ matches the former ‘standard’ membership enjoyed by the majority of members and includes a print subscription to Look magazine, unlimited access to the Members Lounge, discounts in the Gallery Shop and cafe, discounted offers on events and now one free exhibition ticket per year (instead of just one free ticket in your first year, as it was previously). Pension and student concessions, and shared memberships are also available in this category. Joint memberships have been broadened – now ‘you can join with a friend or with family outside your household and all be joint members together,’ says Heather.
‘Explore’ is a free, introductory category for 16–25-year-olds, offering art-loving young people a taste of membership by being part of the Art Gallery community and the opportunity to make it part of their lives while they are studying or commencing their careers.
Similarly, ‘Connect’ is a pared-back category at an introductory pricepoint for those who want to learn more about the Art Gallery and experience some benefits of membership, but may have limited time or live remotely. ‘A lot of the activity we’ll be doing for this category will be available wherever you live – digital events, programs that you can log into online, a digital copy of Look,’ notes Heather.
Like the Explore category, a free exhibition ticket isn’t included, but Connect members will still receive discounts in the Gallery Shop and cafe, and discounted tickets. ‘We want to make it so that people can be anywhere in the world – in Armidale, or Melbourne, or New York – and they can be a part of the community. With this category, we want to create the opportunity for people to participate and be part of the Gallery, even if it’s not possible for them to come in regularly,’ says Heather.
The ‘Champion’ tier, formerly known as Premier membership, ‘is the crème de la crème category,’ enthuses Heather. ‘Champion members really want to be involved with the Art Gallery, they are passionate and enthusiastic about how they support the Gallery and about making a significant membership contribution. You will get free admission to all exhibitions and can come in as many times as you want. You will also get one complimentary tea or barista coffee in the Members Lounge each week. As a Champion member you can also book in for a tour for four to view exhibitions or the collection, and you can purchase joint memberships. This is a great category for members who are really passionate about supporting the Art Gallery and want to make a difference.’
Funds from membership, members’ donations and initiatives such as the Travel and Luxury Draw go towards acquiring new works for the collection and supporting Art Gallery programs. Members have supported the acquisition of over 240 artworks since the Society was founded in 1953.
‘Existing members will transition across to the equivalent new membership tier in December,’ says Heather. ‘You will have the chance to choose which tier you would prefer when your membership is due for renewal.’
The new membership categories aim to engage the broad audience of art lovers now visiting the expanded Art Gallery. ‘We want to make it easier for people to join and renew their membership, and to make it clear that by being a member, and being part of this community, they are making a difference to the Art Gallery,’ says Heather.
‘As we move into the next phase for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, we want to make sure that membership is a big part of that new journey.’
A version of this article first appeared in Look – the Gallery’s members magazine