LESS than two months ago Rebecca MacFarling stepped into the role of Chief Executive Officer of Ballarat’s Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) and is relishing the challenge.
With a background in marketing Ms MacFarling is well placed to take M.A.D.E. along its future journey.
“I love this organisation and I know there are a lot of nay-sayers about M.A.D.E .but the truth is, for a new museum, we have 68,000 people a year and a really robust education program that I’m really proud of,” she said.
“I appreciate there is a lot we need to do better and more of but so far the welcome has been great and the town has been great, as well.” The new CEO sees two big challenges ahead of her.
The first is to let people know what M.A.D.E. is all about and her goal is to amplify the Eureka story.
“At a primary level this is about the Eureka Stockade and democracy and all the other delicious ideas float from that, but I think from a public perspective and the way we engage with people, I think the Eureka Stockade is an easier way in.,” Ms MacFarling explained.
“One of the things we need to do better is local Ballarat engagement and programming for people in Ballarat so they come back and whether or not that’s the way we curate or the way we hold talks, have music or performance or things that bring people here more than once, they get to know their local place.” The second challenge is the need to diversify revenue streams.
“Whether or not that is from our commercial venue hire, our shop and our café or looking at philanthropic funding, creating a donor program, a membership program and really building a constituency around MADE,“ Ms MacFarling said.
“I don’t think there is a desire to close M.A.D.E. whilst the people of Ballarat may not like M.A.D.E specifically, the importance of this site, it’s a point of national and local Ballarat pride and that needs to be kept alive.” With that in mind Ms MacFarling has been spending time meeting with local business people, historians and groups and says she has settled into the role.
“It’s a great team here and they are really enthusiastic,” she said.
“They have been a bit battered by change and uncertainly and you can imagine having a new CEO at a challenging time but they have pulled together and are getting the job done.” On Sunday December 3, 2017, M.A.D.E. will be celebrating the 163rd anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.
On display for the first time will be a fascinating sketchbook by an unknown artist from around 1859 depicting life on the goldfields, which was recently acquired by the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Additional paintings will be on display courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ballarat that help to give framework around the potential location and scale of the Stockade.
With Ballarat’s symbiotic connection to the Eureka Stockade, M.A.D.E .are calling on locals and the wider community to come forward with their letters, paintings, sketches and family diaries with the aim of shedding more light on the location.
On Eureka day, MADE is also hosting the annual Peter Tobin Oration as part of a day of celebrations to mark the birth of Australian democracy.
This year the Peter Tobin Oration will be delivered by author and historian Peter FitzSimons on the legacy of the Eureka Stockade on contemporary Australian Democracy.
The oration will be at 11am.
Also on display will be three pieces of the Flag of the Southern Cross that will be reunited with the Flag again.
M.A.D.E .has an exciting day of activities and fun for all ages on Eureka Day including an ‘Animals of Eureka’ petting zoo, a kids archaeological dig and a Chips Rafferty film screening as well as special exhibits on the history of the Eureka Stockade.
The MADE Café will be open serving their delicious home cooked snacks and meals.
Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka open 10am-5pm.