The Vancouver Art Gallery looks like it will get a new home now that Mayor Gregor Robertson of the ruling Vision Vancouver party has announced his support for a new facility.
Robertson released a statement Wednesday night saying the proposed $350 million gallery to be built on a vacant lot next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre will be a huge opportunity to bolster our creative sector.
Weve done a lot of work to support the arts in recent years but this has the potential to really elevate our creative economy to the next level, the mayor said. I hope that all of city council will support the recommendation.
A city staff report to go before council Tuesday recommends the city enter into a 99-year lease with the gallery for a nominal fee for 1.8 acres of the city-owned property at 688 Cambie St.
The site is known as Larwill Park and was once a bus depot. The gallery portion of the site would take up two-thirds of the property. The city will look to sell off the remaining chunk of land for development to recoup $50 million it spent on upgrades to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Playhouse and Orpheum.
If the Vancouver Art Gallery Association is given the green light to go ahead with the project, raising money will be key to the success of the agreement with the city.
The gallerys proposed funding model requires $150 million to be raised privately while $100 million each will be expected from the provincial and federal governments for a total of $350 million.
Gallery director Kathleen Bartels said the gallery has $54 million from the provincial government and another $40 million from private donations.
The city has set a deadline of April 30, 2015 for the gallery to secure $100 million from the federal government and an additional $50 million from the province for the deal to proceed.
If the funding deadlines for some reason cannot be met, upon notice from the gallery, council would have discretion to reconsider the terms of the agreement, said the city report, noting the project can only go ahead once 75 per cent of the total construction budget is secured.
Bartels said she is confident the bulk of the money will be raised before the April 2015 deadline and noted the gallerys fundraising campaign will stretch across the country.
All along we knew there would be milestones and wed have to raise significant funds, Bartels told the Courier. The [gallerys] board and staff are committed to making that happen.
The current gallery at Robson Square has outgrown its space and has no room for school programs, added Bartels,when asked about the reason for building a new facility, which would more than double the area for exhibition space.
Realtor Bob Rennie, who owns a private art gallery in Chinatown and is involved with international art organizations, and David Baxter of the Urban Futures Institute wanted a number of smaller, cheaper specialized galleries built across the city instead of one large building.
Reached by telephone Thursday, Rennie said he and Baxter couldnt fathom where the gallery anticipates the money for the project will come from in what are tight financial times for governments.
I would think that there has been huge due diligence done but I have a hard time believing in this economy that that money is there, Rennie said. If its there, is this the right place for it?
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