Dr Michael Brand
Art Gallery of NSW
For a place which is supposed to be about creativity, the art gallery seems to lack any creativity in the way it exhibits art. Every time I go there it's the same. There's a big room with a few paintings on the wall and people awkwardly shuffling along trying not to speak too loudly for the fear of sounding not quite as all-knowing as the art wanker beside them who is wearing a beret and retro hipster glasses. I quickly get bored, my back starts to hurt and I sit on the couch thinking "why did I come back here - it sucks".
I'd like to offer a few suggestions as to how to make the experience far less sucky, while also making the gallery a truckload more money.
1. Music - there is no reason why the viewing of art has to be conducted in an awkward silence. I'd much prefer to hear some music that adds context and atmosphere to the art, rather than the old lady next to me detailing her cousin Terry's recovery from a hip operation. It's not that hard. Simply choose a musician and get them to curate a collection of songs to go with an exhibition. Try Nick Cave - arty people love him. You then have something extra to flog in the gift shop and on iTunes.
2. Beanbag train - No one likes standing up on a hard surface. It causes back pain and detracts from the enjoyment of the art. It would be far better if you could install something like in one of those Sushi Train restaurants, except instead of sushi plates going around you have people on comfy chairs or beanbags. I'd pay extra for that. By cranking up the speed on the beanbag train you could also get more people through exhibitions in periods of peak demand, further increasing your revenue.
3. Alcohol - People get in to a far more philosophical head space and have more interesting conversations when they have consumed alcohol. It undoubtedly adds to the enjoyment of the art. So why not have a bar at the entrance of the exhibition? This would also be a sure-fire money spinner. These days you can get away with ridiculous mark-ups on alcohol because paying $8 for a beer has somehow become normal in Sydney.
You may well dismiss this letter as the rantings of some disgruntled lunatic but deep down part of you knows I'm right. So why not do some market research on it? I'm sure everyone will tell you their gallery experience would be enhanced by listening to music and getting tipsy in a moving beanbag. How could they not?