Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unedit my Heart Gets Action!

One thing I've enjoyed in the Toronto Star since Michael Cooke became publisher are the occasional front-page items bearing the deck/headline "The Star Gets Action". This label is meant to represent times when an investigation or article by the Star has yielded corrective action in the government or elsewhere.

So for this post on Unedit My Heart, I'm borrowing that showy-showman style. Yes, we are reporting today that "Unedit my Heart Got Action" (or what passes for its governmental equivalent) on its long-held observation that accessibility measures at the Royal Ontario Museum—particularly economic access—are woefully substandard. (For more evidence of my whinginess/steadfastness on this front, you can look back to these items from 2007, 2008 (twice) and 2009, among others.)

Basically, today I received a hard copy of a new report on the ROM written by the Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on Government Agencies. As frequent readers may know, back in September 2009 I presented to this committee about the ROM's poor access levels as part of their review process of the museum—which is, just to recap, an agency of the government of Ontario (not just a tourist attraction, natch!).

Here's where the "action" part comes in: the government committee's #1 recommendation for the ROM is that it "develop and implement a plan which would enhance access by the residents of Ontario to the Museum."

Sure, they only had two recommendations overall, but the fact that they recommended this at all, let alone first, makes me tremendously excited.

To quote the passage in full:

During the Hearings the Committee was struck by the importance of the issue of access to the Royal Ontario Museum—both in the sense of the possible effect of price on attendance, and in the sense of exposure to the Museum of Ontarians of all ages, places of residence, economic status, and cultural background. Without suggesting which methods would be best employed by the Museum in increasing access, and without suggesting that visits to the Museum by out-of-province and out-of-country visitors are unimportant,

1. The Committee recommends that the Royal Ontario Museum develop and implement a plan which would enhance access by the residents of Ontario to the Museum.


The Committee asks that the ROM respond to the Recommendations and provide the Committee with its plans to address them by sending its response to the Clerk of the Committee within six months after the Chair has tabled the Report in the Legislature.

So.... I guess this all means that in a few months we should check back in with the ROM to see what access plan they've submitted to the government, no?

To read the full report (which does contain other notes on access, as well as a making-me-sound-more-cogent-than-I-was summary of my presentation) click here. To read other notes from my presentation, including data showing that the ROM ranks among the most expensive museums to visit in the entire world, click here.

Image of the ROM by Saku Takakusaki from Wikimedia Commons


Sar said...

Congrats Leah! This is fabulous news.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks Sar! I'm really looking forward to Ontarians getting more adequate/standard access to the ROM.

Michael Wheeler said...

Great work Leah. Way to get some action.

Anonymous said...

Build another ugly and expensive crystal.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks Michael!

And... to me, access is a much bigger issue than architecture. But I guess that's apparent from my past statements! I don't mind the Crystal - I mind the fact that high admission fees and lacklustre access programs make it difficult for Ontarians to get inside it and see the collections held in their trust.

Anonymous said...

I wish the philanthropists among us would support causes like this rather than architectural ones.

Leah Sandals said...

Hey Anonymous,

The great thing is that there are philanthropists that sponsor free evenings... for example,

-The Hal Jackman Foundation and NOW are sponsoring free admission all summer at the Power Plant

-The Hal Jackman Foundation has also in the past supported extended evening hours at the MOCCA, which is always PWYC

-Free Wednesday evenings at the AGO are sponsored by The Catherine & Maxwell Meighen Foundation

-By Donation Tuesday evenings at the Vancouver Art Gallery are sponsored by Sun Life Financial

-Monthly free evenings at the Art Gallery of Alberta are supported by Servus Credit Union

-In the States, free evenings are often sponsored by Target (true for MOMA NY, the Walker Art Centre, etc.)

So there are sponsors who step up for access. That was one of the facts I presented to the government committee, because it's one way that access initiatives can be supported, among others.

Leah Sandals said...

Also, many thanks to Torontoist for linking to this post.