City’s cultural duo appointed to State roles

03 Sep 2019

The Directors of Newcastle’s museum and art gallery have been recognised for their leading industry knowledge and expertise and called upon to guide the future direction of the State’s cultural sector.

Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird and Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton have been appointed to the newly established Create NSW Artform Advisory Boards in their respective fields.

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They join an illustrious panel of professionals who will assess applications to the State’s Arts and Cultural Funding Program, providing recommendations on the strategic directions of the sector to the NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin.

Ten new Artform Advisory Boards were established by the Minister, replacing the peer-reviewed assessment panels that were previously in place.

Hundreds of applications were received during an expressions of interest process, with 10 Chairs and 73 Board Members appointed. Ms Baird and Ms Morton's appointments are testament to their unique contributions to the Newcastle Museum and Art Gallery, and the success they have achieved building on the reputation of these respected institutions both within the region and across Australia.

Ms Baird will sit on the Museums and History Board, drawing on more than 28 years of experience working in museums across Australia and Canada, including the National Motor Museum and the History Trust of South Australia.

Ms Baird was appointed Director of Newcastle Museum in March last year and has held positions of Manager and Deputy Director at Newcastle Museum after joining as Curator in 2002. She was instrumental in the iconic institution’s transition from its historic location in Newcastle West to its current home at Honeysuckle.

The Director and her small team have been responsible for reimagining the institution as a centre for our City’s identity, achieving more than 1.3 million visitors and a visitor satisfaction level of 98% at the new site. 

“To have Newcastle Museum’s achievements and status as an innovative and integral part of our city and museum industry acknowledged at a State level by my appointment to the Artforms Assessment Board Museums & History is incredibly satisfying,” she said.

“This will allow me to make a significant impact on a state level and is personally quite humbling to be named amongst a handful of significant thinkers in my specialisation.”

Ms Morton was also appointed as Director of Newcastle Art Gallery last year following more than four years as Manager of the renowned cultural institution.

Ms Morton has built a strong reputation for developing ambitious national and internationally respected exhibitions with renowned artists and curators that showcase the city’s significant collection of works of art.

Through her artistic direction and strategic leadership, the Art Gallery has achieved the highest visitation numbers in over a decade, while the collection - valued at over $95 million - has experienced record growth. Her leadership has ensured the Art Gallery’s high-quality exhibitions, programs and thriving collection continue to be a source of immense pride for the community and City of Newcastle.

Ms Morton has more than 35 years’ experience in the Visual Arts and Creative Industries sectors in both private and government organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“As a Create NSW and Museums & Galleries NSW Peer for several years I feel extremely honoured to have been appointed to the new Create NSW Visual Arts Advisory Board,” she said.

“I see this as an incredible and invaluable opportunity to ‘have a seat at the table’ to advocate and support the arts sector at a strategic level – promoting the importance of both regional and metropolitan Arts and Culture across our state”.