Msunduzi/Voortrekker Museum & William Humphreys Art Gallery: Annual Performance 2009/10

Arts and Culture

16 August 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Msunduzi/Voortrekker Museum briefed the Committee on the annual performance for 2009.10, and its strategic plans. This Museum aimed to actively preserve, promote and present South African cultural heritage to benefit nation building and social upliftment. There were inherent funding shortages, and in the past year the museum had to use a portion of its reserve fund for the increase in salaries, although this was still below other government entities. It had requested the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) for additional funding. It pointed out that it would not be sustainable to have to dip into reserves again. The Museum had complied with its obligations in terms of reporting and had achieved another unqualified audit. The staffing structure was outlined, and it was noted that although the Museum focused primarily on research around KwaZulu Natal, it was also collecting artefacts from elsewhere, and its research was fairly broad, with specific topics being described. Special exhibitions for centenaries and other historic days were mounted, and the Museum held educational programmes, reaching more than 11 000 learners in this year, and geared its training to the national curriculum, as well as holding annual debates around history.

Members asked questions about the community outreach, which schools were targeted, the effectiveness of the marketing, whether there was involvement of other stakeholders, especially local government, and pointed out that joint efforts could help to save money. They were concerned to get a breakdown of the staff, and questioned the numbers, the race and gender, and whether there was specific focus on the youth, both in terms of employment and staff training. They suggested that the staff should attend more conferences and study tours inside South Africa than internationally. They enquired about the sources of income, whether there were plans to raise these, how the budget would be balanced, and what could be done to address the high audit fees and the costs associated with running such a large council. The Committee asked that the Museum should submit and explain its strategic plans in more depth on another occasion.

The William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley (the Gallery) presented on its performance in 2009/10. This Gallery preserved, documented, researched and exhibited works of art which were broadly representative of the artistic heritage of all South Africans. It aimed to dispel the notion that museums and galleries were for the elite and took active steps to have schools from wealthier areas make donations to subsidise those from poorer areas. The Museum staff also did a great deal to mentor young artists, and offered a number of training programmes (which were described) for its own staff as well as offering outreach programmes for educators, an Early Childhood Development Programme, a skills upliftment programme for women and craft workshops at correctional centres for women.  The Gallery was managing to run quite effectively, and had managed to expand its collection of South African artists in the last year, despite the funding constraints. It would ideally like to have a fuller staff structure, by creating more positions, but could not do so within the present funding constraints. It had established partnerships and networking to try to supplement the lack of internal skills. From the financial side, it had again achieved an unqualified audit, although there were some concerns expressed by internal and external auditors that the small number of staff did not allow for proper delineation of financial functions. Members asked questions mostly about the staffing, and asked if the Gallery could contribute to job creation and youth empowerment. They also asked how the programmes continued to run despite shortage of funds, and suggested that it should apply to the National Lottery for funding.

Meeting report

Msunduzi/Voortrekker Museum Annual Performance 2009/10
 Mr Gilbert Torlage, Acting Director, Msunduzi/ Voortrekker Museum, sketched the history and evolution of the Msunduzi/Voortrekker Museum (the Museum) from the 1930s to the present. He noted that its vision was to promote South African cultural heritage. Its strategic goals guided its structure and organisation. Whilst it concentrated on research in KwaZulu-Natal, the Museum also collected artefacts from rest of South Africa. There were also specific guidelines that dictated what kind of art the Museum would collect, and he noted that it must reflect the cultural heritage of diverse communities, in holistic and objective manner. The collections aimed to improve understanding, tolerance and mutual respect among the diverse groups. He said that the South African museum community should aim to develop beneficial partnerships in order to assist in social and economic development.

He noted that professionalism and competency were the core values, along integrity, accountability and transparency, to maintain the responsibilities of the Museum as a public body to the taxpayers and the government.

Mr Torlage explained that information about the programmes that was detailed in the presentations related to 2009/2010, but some programmes would only reach completion in 2011. He confirmed that the Museum did, as required, submit quarterly reports to the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 and from 2010/11 it had also sent performance information quarterly. The Annual Report was in the process of being finalised. The strategic plans for 2009 to 2014 were submitted to the DAC. Internal controls had been set to establish roles of individuals and ensure efficient operations. He set out the staff structure. Internal audits were carried out twice per year, management meetings were held quarterly, and heads of department and staff met monthly. There was a risk policy, which was reviewed annually, and which directed the daily operations of the Museum. 24-hour security was essential to prevent theft of the Museum’s collection.

Mr Torlage highlighted that salary accounted for the largest part of the budget. Salary increases for 2010/11 were 7%, as compared to the Department of Public Service and Administration 7.5% raise, and the grant increase of 6.8%. The Museum had to use a significant portion of the grant to cover he increase in salaries, and in order to balance the budget in 2011/12, it would have to draw on its reserves, in the amount of R293 000. This would not be sustainable over the coming years. He pointed out that in 2009/2010, the salaries accounted for 67.5% of the budget, and in 2010/11 it would account for 70.7% of budget. The Museum had achieved five unqualified audit reports in a row.

Mr Torlage then outlined the current and planned projects of the Museum. There was ongoing research into the importance of cattle to all communities, including: Zulu, Indian and settler communities. Zulu culture and history and Indian music were also being researched. An indentured labour database was being created, as well as information on coloured people and culture in Pietermaritzburg. Another focus area was use of musical instruments countrywide, and information about Zulu people and French imperial family relationships were also being researched. For the Centenary in 2012 the Museum was conducting research into the Voortrekker Complex, Voortrekker people and Church of the Vow. A Museum Journal and Museum Journal Volume II were also completed. Interactive features had been introduced into the Museum to promote a more interactive learning experience. The Museum had purchased
over 1 100 books with R100 000 of National Lottery Funds.

In 2009/10 the Museum offered organised education programmes to learners, and 11 620 learners had attended. The education programmes and worksheets were adapted to meet the requirements of the curriculum. At the end of the year, the Museum organised a debate to encourage young students to engage in South Africa’s history, and it also organised special events and functions to commemorate special days in South Africa’s history. Marketing also remained important in order to stay competitive.

Mr Torlage noted that staff were often encouraged to go in for skills development that would benefit themselves and the Museum. The types of training had included product development, marketing, packaging, selling and pricing, beadwork, quilting, embroidery, grass mats, beer strainers and clay pots. Staff were encouraged and supported to attend relevant conferences and workshops, which included regional national South African Museums Association (SAMA ) conferences as well as visits to Canada, USA, Iceland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Dundee. However, a major challenge remained the high staff turnover, as many staff would, after developing their skills, leave for better paying positions elsewhere. The Museum thus had to be constantly on the lookout for highly skilled individuals to replace those who had left.

Another challenge, in terms of the finances, was the very high audit fees, although the Museum recognised that it was necessary to stay in good financial standing. The Museum also had a very large council that added considerably to the costs. Mr Torlage pointed out that if costs were diverted to pay for these items, it meant that funding in other areas was reduced. The Museum also noted the need soon to replace its two
ageing vehicles, which were vital to running the education programmes.

A Member on the committee wanted to know whether the strategic plans were submitted to the Parliament.

The Member questioned why Mr Torlage had highlighted only some items in the financial statement, and enquired about the total number of staff employed.

 Mr L Khoarai (ANC) also requested that the full audit report should be delivered to Members, instead of only selected portions. He also wanted a breakdown of staff according to race and gender.

Dr A Lotriet (DA) commended the museum for achieving clean audits. She wanted clarification on the income sources for the museum, and questioned what could be done to improve income generation. She also questioned if the financial constraints affected the daily operations of the Museum

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked if there were specific plans to improve income generation at the Museum.

Dr Lotriet asked if the vacant positions were vital to the running of the Museum.

Dr Lotriet asked if there was collaboration with the Voortrekker Museum in Pretoria.

Ms Mushwana wanted a breakdown of the staff, pointing out that as a government funded entity it was the responsibility of the Museum to contribute to job creation in South Africa.

Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) asked how many people were on the Council.

Ms N Khunou (ANC) questioned if there was anything that could be done to scale down the size of the Council.

Ms Khunou asked whether the Museum had done anything to commemorate that arrival of settlers other than Indians.

Ms Khunou asked for more detail about the outreach programmes, and who the stakeholders were, as mentioned in the presentation.

Mr Ntshiqela asked how far the Museum had gone towards achieving its strategic goals mentioned in the presentation. 
Ms L Moss (ANC) wanted to know why the Museum was not working with different levels of the government and other departments especially local and district levels, saying that this would surely contribute to nation building, and that it could reduce the funding that was needed for this aim.

Ms Moss asked which schools were targeted for the marketing of the Museum and what kind of marketing strategy was being employed. She also wanted to know when and where the exhibitions took place.

The Chairperson congratulated the presenters. However, she was concerned that perhaps not sufficient youth were being trained, and she asked what type of training was provided to employees, and into what age group they fell. She asked if the Museum was planning to work with the Department for Higher Education and Training. She was also interested to hear of any relationships with local government authorities.

The Chairperson asked if there was some alternative way to reducing the audit fees.

The Chairperson suggested that the Museum should reapply for the Lottery funding, because the amount received currently was inadequate.

The Chairperson asked for details of programmes being funded by the transformation grant.

Mr Torlage responded that the Strategic Plan was presented to Parliament in February 2011, although he was not sure what had happened in previous years before he had joined the Museum.

Mr Torlage responded to the financial questions, saying that he had highlighted some aspects to illustrate the trends and to show, in particular, that staff expenditure was the largest in his type of organisation. He had also wanted to highlight how it would be unsustainable for the funding to continue at present levels, so that additional sources of funding would have to be found. The selected items presented from the audit report were similarly used to highlight key points. He noted that the museum had income from various sources such as parking fees and investments, but this was small and was used to cover daily expenditure. Mr Torlage noted that the planned events would go ahead despite the budget constraints, because the aim of the museum was to develop key partnerships with different departments and various levels of the government. However, if the anticipated funding did not come through then the Museum would have to scale down the size of the operations. This would be a pity, as further advances in the education programmes were planned. The Museum had applied for extra funding from the DAC and awaited its response. He noted that he too was pleased with the unqualified audit and the Museum the auditors in any way it could. He had spoken to an the auditor from the National Lottery Distribution Fund, who expressed satisfaction with the way funds were used, and advised the Museum to ask for more money next year.

Mr Torlage then addressed issues of staffing. He said that in 2009/2010 there were 21 males and 14 females employed at the museum. The two staff vacancies were critical – with the first being a vacancy for a Director and the second a vacancy for an Educator. The Museum currently had only one educator and this was insufficient for the running of the education programmes. He noted the comments on the staff trips and agreed that the potential locally should perhaps be explored before making plans to visit outside the country.

In response to questions around cooperation and stakeholders, Mr Torlage noted that the Museum had began working with municipal governments, but thus far only the Women’s Day function had been organised with involvement of the local governments. However, this had in fact resulted in only a limited saving, which was disappointing, as the Museum had hoped for a greater financial contribution.  

Mr Dalifa Ngobese, Deputy Director: Income: Msunduzi/ Voortrekker Museum, added that there was increased support from the Department and the provincial government in KwaZulu Natal had given an indication that it was willing to work more closely on some of the programmes in the upcoming years.

Mr Torlage said, in regard to the Council, that this was appointed by the Minister and the aim was to achieve as broad representation as possible. However, the size of the Council had been raised with the Minister, and a decision on it was awaited by the DAC and Museum. National Treasury would cover shortfalls only if it felt that the rise in expenditure was over and above the inflation rate.

A member raised a concern that all too often a shortfall would occur. He suggested that the Committee and DAC should discuss this matter thoroughly.

The Chairperson acknowledged frustration from all parties, and agreed more investigation was needed on funding, since it seemed that some entities that were inefficient were still being funded, whilst others who were perhaps more deserving were not.

With regard to the exhibitions, Mr Torlage then stated that the Indians were commemorated at this particular time, because this was the 100-year anniversary of their arrival. Other communities would also receive a focus when the exhibitions were upgraded. 

Ms Riana Mulder, Head of Education, Liaison and Outreach, Voortrekker Museum, stated that the education programmes included visits to schools, sending brochures, increasing the number of schools visits each year and sending emails. Within the community, the Museum staff provided craft training to locals, who were then able to use the new skills to make and sell their own craft at a craft market organised by the Museum. The Museum had partnered, several times, with local municipalities for organisation of garden shows. There were also partnerships with private companies who provided materials for producing the crafts. Local newspaper had also sponsored some of the programmes. The educational programmes were linked to displays within the Museum, such as lifestyles of the Zulu people and the Indian people.

Mr Ngobese confirmed that the Museum did liaise with the Voortrekker Museum in Pretoria, and the Councils also liased on ways to assist each other.

Ms Moss wanted to know how the budget was being adjusted each year especially with the 7 % rise in salaries.

Another Member requested that the strategic plan should be submitted to the Committee, so that the members could examine how culture and outreach services were being implemented.

Mr Ntshiqela wanted to know about the level of participation by public entities. He asked what had happened to those who had attended the training programmes.

Ms Mulder responded that after completing their training, the students returned to their schools, although they would often be invited back for special events.

Another Member asked about the time frames for filling vacancies.

Mr Torlage said that the vacancies needed to be filled immediately.

Mr Torlage summarised that the Museum was reaching more people each year. It intended to continue along this path. It was important to get people into the Museums so that it could continue serving the community.

The Chairperson thanked the presenters and asked them to return again with the strategic plan.

William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) Performance Report  2009/10
Ms Ann Pretorius, Director, William Humphreys Art Gallery, stated that the aim of the William Humphreys Gallery (WHAG or the Gallery) was firstly to dispel the notion that museums or galleries were for the elite. She then explained the colours and painting on the entrance door and outlined the mission statement.

Ms Pretorius was pleased to note that the Gallery had never had a qualified audit report. She briefly set out the financial status. From the budget, the staff expenditure accounted for 62.8%, art purchases for 16.5% and insurance for 2.6%. She noted that insurance was high because of the high-value items displayed at the Gallery.

There were 17 staff, of whom five were African, one was Coloured, one Indian and ten White. She then sketched the breakdown of the staff structure. Staff turnover was at 18% in this year, because of one resignation and two retirements. There were currently no vacant positions. She noted that the job descriptions were constantly reviewed. As the institution’s schedule of activities was broadened, so were additional tasks negotiated with staff members. Training and skills development remained pivotal to the empowerment of the staff, and a number of opportunities were offered in the year under review. The WHAG Study Policy made provision for financial assistance with formal tertiary education if the study direction was related to the applicant’s job description as well as to the institution’s core function and strategic objectives. Successful applicants were required to sign a service contract with the institution. Ms Pretorius noted that, ideally, a gallery of the calibre of the WHAG should be staffed with a Deputy Director, Curator, Collections Manager, Exhibitions Officer and administrative support staff. However, the annual allocation made this impossible, and also did not allow the entity to grow. She noted that the WHAG was a member of SAMA, and so the staff were bound by that code of ethics, as well as the international codes.

The internal audit for the year ending 31 March 2010 found that all books and records were written up to date and that all key reconciliations were well and timeously prepared. However, she noted that the both the internal and external auditors had commented that there was an inherent weakness in the systems of internal control, because there was not adequate segregation of duties. This was not possible, owing to the limited number of staff members. The WHAG had been informed by DAC and the National Treasury that no additional funds would be forthcoming to create new posts.

She said that the Gallery received transfers from the DAC, totalling R4.422 million, and the spending trends at the WHAG remained within the constraints of this annual allocation and the budget. Despite these constraints the Gallery had still managed to improve its services. She outlined the entrance fee structure, and said that this institution was also marketed as a stylish conference and seminar venue, and there was rental generated through hiring it out. Schools from disadvantaged areas did not have to pay entrance fees, although schools from privileged areas had to provide a donation.

Ms Pretorius tabled the strategic objectives. The WHAG had a core function to collect, conserve and celebrate the country’s artistic heritage. In 2009/10 it had acquired a number of significant and rare works by black artists not previously represented or represented sufficiently, in the collection. These included artworks by Rebecca Mathibe, Julian Motau, Peter Clarke, Andrew Motjuoadi, Benjamin Macala, Hargreaves Ntukwana and Ezrom Legae. The WHAG was also able to collect a number of artworks by younger artists to create a good balance. In 2009/2010 WHAG spent R 729,158.56, a reduction from spending of R925,726.99 in the previous year.

Ms Pretorius said that the building that housed the WHAG belonged to the State, and while Council was responsible for all day-to-day maintenance and repair work, up to R30 000, the building itself was maintained by the Department of Public Works.

She said that the Gallery staff were constantly mentoring emerging artists. Aspirant artists would visit the gallery constantly in need of advice on materials, techniques, business skills and funding. The Gallery also ran a number of outreach programmes, which she proceeded to describe.

The Training the Trainers programme recognised that teachers were not always well equipped to deal with art and craft instruction, and therefore attempted to contribute to their empowerment as teachers for the benefit of the learners.

The Keadumela – Early Childhood Development programme was formed in recognition of the fact that the pre-school children from the desperately poor settlements in and around Kimberley were at a huge disadvantage when they begin their formal school careers. The project aimed to equip them for a successful school career by stimulating their skills development through art and craft related activities. This project had been running very successfully for 18 years.

The WHAG Ubuntu Project in Women’s Development taught traditional women’s skills to unemployed women from the disadvantaged areas. Instruction in embroidery, beading, fabric painting and mosaic art was offered to groups and community forums.

The WHAG Ubuntu Prison Project for Art Against Crime presented craft workshops for female offenders at the Kimberley Correctional Centre. It had been running for five years, with many offenders reaping the benefits. One of the most encouraging spin-offs of the project had been the rebuilding of self-esteem and human dignity amongst offenders. This project could also contribute to moral regeneration, and therefore successful rehabilitation, of the offenders into society once they had served their sentences.

Ms Pretorius said that as a result of limited resources, the WHAG had sought external funding, partnerships and linkages to offset the expense of the special community projects, as well as to enhance the staff capacity. Outside expertise helped to balance the constraints posed by a small staff. Networks of experts and professionals had been forged. The Gallery had its own partners but in turn acted as a partner to the community.

Ms Moss wanted to know about the disciplinary action that led to the resignation of an employee.

Ms Moss asked how, with such a small budget, the Gallery managed to conduct its education programmes.

A Member enquired how many full and part time staff were employed.

She also enquired if the performing and other youth artists represented were only from Kimberley or also from other parts of the country.

Mr Ntshiqela questioned the salary expenditure.

Mr Ntshiqela asked what was being done to upgrade the skills of the poorly skilled employees of the Gallery.

Mr Ntshiqela also wanted more clarity on how the teachers were being trained.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) wanted to know why, despite the resignation and two retirements, there were no vacancies listed

Mr Mavunda asked if the Gallery had participated in the FIFA World Cup.

A Member wanted to know how the staff demographics were related to the staff organisational structure chart. This Member also wanted to know more about the recruitment strategy for youth, and why it was not possible for the Gallery to create the positions that it ideally would like to fill.

The Chairperson asked if the reason for not creating posts was not a shortage of funds.

The Members asked if it would not save costs to send out invitations in electronic format.

The Chairperson wanted to know about WHAG’s relationship with other levels of government, especially municipalities.

The Chairperson asked if the Gallery was working with the Department of Tourism and if it also worked with local hotel organisations to promote the Gallery throughout the country.

Ms Pretorius answered the questions in relation to staff. She said that the reason for no vacancies being shown was that the vacancies that had been created through resignations and retirements were immediately filled. She reiterated that there were 17 person employed by the Gallery. She said that there was frustration among the staff as their salary increments were being decreased each year, and that this had been raised with the Department but no assistance was forthcoming. Additionally she stated that the Chief Financial Officer, his Assistant, the Secretary, General Assistant, Groundsman, and the Conservation Specialist were all full time employees. She noted the comments about job creation but was at a loss as to what exactly a small institution like a Gallery could do to promote sustainable job creation. Most of the people who worked at the WHAG did so out of their interest in art, as there were certainly not many perks attached to working at a gallery.

Ms Pretorius then answered questions on the programmes. She noted that the Early Childhood Development programmes had been from time to time received funds from several sources, some of which were outside the country, such as the German Embassy, Standard Bank, and Rotary. This project was not costing the entity more than the salaries of the staff who were running it. The Women’s Training had lacked funding to launch the programme, but the Gallery had called for donations, for instance of knitting equipment, to enable the programme to start, and as the programmes became more developed, they were likely to attract more funding from private donors. The idea behind the teacher training was to assist with organisation of the curriculum, and how to prepare activity sheets and other functions.

Mr Pretorius said that the WHAG did hold sporting events in nearby rural communities to promote interest in the arts, and that had been a great success.  Although some of the invitations to events were sent electronically, paper based invitations would still be used, as they had a far more personal touch.

Ms Pretorius finally reiterated that the WHAG needed more money in order to survive.

The Chairperson recommended that the WHAG should apply for National Lottery funding, and said that the Committee would try to assist the Gallery to continue along the path of success.

The meeting was adjourned.


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