Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki welcomes a new Director in April with the appointment of returning New Zealander, Gregory Burke. Most recently CEO of the Remai Modern gallery in Saskatoon, Canada, Burke’s career comes full circle when he returns to the gallery that, in 1983, first inspired him to embark on a visual arts career specialising in audio-visual projects. Over the last 20 years, Burke has directed acclaimed modern and contemporary art museums across New Zealand and Canada, including the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, The Power Plant in Toronto and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. In addition, he has served as a volunteer in significant governance roles, including terms as a board member of Art Metropole in Toronto and as a member of the modern and contemporary acquisitions committee of the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) CEO Chris Brooks, says Burke was a stand-out candidate in a world-class field of international contenders. “Gregory is as passionate about New Zealand art, as he is about Auckland as his home town. He has played a significant role in developing our country’s international art profile over the years and his impressive record in launching and leading modern, world-class art institutions is a perfect fit to take our iconic Gallery forward.”
With a career spanning a number of New Zealand art institutions, Burke’s senior curatorial roles include seven years at Wellington City Art Gallery as Assistant Director and Chief Curator. He also spent three years at the Arts Council of New Zealand working with government and developing policy before becoming the Director of the Govett-Brewster and substantially lifting its international profile. Burke left New Zealand in 2005 to run The Power Plant in Toronto where he increased visitation by more than 250% and, in partnership with Sotheby’s NY, initiated the most successful fundraising event in the gallery’s history. Following a number of freelance roles, including delivery of the Montreal Biennale in 2014, Burke was appointed Executive Director and CEO of Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Canada. Working with one of Canada’s foremost architects to build the art museum, he created the vision for, and developed a prestigious, destination brand for the new institution. With his capital campaign achieving $180m, the art museum launched to great acclaim, far exceeding visitor targets and attracting more than 9000 memberships.
CEO Chris Brooks says Burke’s track record in attracting destination visitors was one of the key factors in his appointment. “Under Gregory’s leadership, Remai Modern attracted over 450,000 visitors in its first year of operation, 240% more than anticipated in a city of only 300,000 people, with 40% of visitors from outside the region. He has an excellent record in building earned and gifted revenue and for significantly growing museum engagement and visitation. RFA looks forward to working with Gregory and the talented team at Auckland Art Gallery in growing the reach and profile of our Gallery within our city, across our country and internationally,” he says.
For Gregory Burke, coming home to Auckland Art Gallery means tapping into a world of opportunities. “There is a current global trend to identify art-cities. So far, São Paulo is the only southern-hemisphere city to make Artsy’s (https://www.artsy.net/) list of the 15 art-cities most mentioned in the media. I believe Auckland could be the next art-city. We have all the ingredients: a strong regional arts infrastructure, internationally recognised artists, reputable galleries, an art fair and, not least, many committed patrons. Auckland is poised to come into its own in terms of its distinct cultural demographics and its growing connections to the global arts industry; and Auckland Art Gallery can take a lead in enhancing Auckland’s prominence as a destination. I look forward to working with the Auckland Art Gallery team to put us at the forefront of emerging trends in the art world and front of mind for visitors to our region.”
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