It’s been just over two years since Nina and I started this website, in fact it went live during the Federation of International Human Rights Museums conference at Te Papa in 2015. For some reason this feels like an auspicious moment as the very same evening was the 15th birthday of the school of museums and heritage studies that we both went through.
Fast forward to now and the landscape for museums feels markedly different. And achingly familiar. We are still talking about the need for more funding, how we are integral contributors to the fabric of society, issues of leadership, how hard it is to get and secure a job, the underrepresentation of minorities in museum content and staff – the list goes on.
Similarly, for Nina and I, things have changed. When we first started Tusk, I was in my first of three contracts at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and Nina was in a role at the Airforce Museum. Though we were both happy where we were, we wanted more, and Tusk enabled us to do that. A little over a year ago, I started my current role at Te Papa, something I’d been working towards ever since my informal interview with Conal McCarthy to get into Victoria University’s school of museums and heritage studies. That was in 2011. At times it feels like things are still the same, but once you list them you see how much they have changed.
Last weekend we spoke at LitCrawl, I chaired a panel in which Nina, Courtney Johnston and Bridget Reweti partook, and we talked candidly about the need for critical writing in the GLAM. Talking around this topic, we found that most of us look overseas for writing about museums, a topic that is widely covered in established media outlets who effectively take museum issues to the mainstream. Despite working on Tusk for over two years, I know that Tusk will always be specialist and our museum kōrero will end up in front of people with an existing interest. Though our aim speaks mainly to the intent of strengthening the sector from the ground up, it is necessary that we have coverage from the outside as it forces us to be reflexive and accountable to the wider public that we claim our importance to.
And so we come to now, and the changes that are ahead for Tusk. It is with sadness, and relief, that I say that I won’t be continuing on with Tusk at the end of this year. When I suggested the current theme, CHANGE, I hadn’t completely articulated what this actually meant for me. When I say that things have changed for Nina and I since we started, I mean that. My current role has a bigger workload and responsibility, admittedly this has led to some exciting opportunities, but they also add to my workload. Something had to give, and it was Tusk. It wasn’t an easy decision but at the same time, my needs have changed and there are other projects that take priority.
We had big dreams for Tusk but they required time, and the elusive funding that we could never secure. Having to languish at the edge of what you want to achieve is frustrating to reconcile but there it is. Despite that, I’ll always be so chuffed with what we have done.
So, to the future. The website and the social media accounts will remain live, with the social media kept active (Twitter 4 lyfe). There is potential to host a NZ/Aus friendly #museumhour as I really enjoyed it last time. The website will remain live for people to continue to submit pieces if they want to be published but the weekly content (Tuakana, On the Level, Fast Five), and the periodic themes won’t continue.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has ever submitted to us, been profiled by us, read us, shared us, supported us, or contacted us. The greatest takeaway I have about Tusk is the amazing web of people that we have been able to meet over these past years, it is you that make the sector what it is. He mihi maioha ki a koutou katoa. So, before I cry, this isn’t the end. We’ll still be around, there will just be ... CHANGE.