In light of the recent budget cuts at the Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, many concerns have been raised as to the future of the Provincial Art Gallery. Following these cuts, two gallery and administrative staff positions were eliminated: the Curator of Canadian Art and the gallery’s Secretary. In addition three staff, the Curator of Contemporary art, the Manager of Exhibitions and Publications and the Director of the Art Gallery have resigned. *
As the umbrella organization for the visual arts sector, Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador has been tasked with the responsibility to act as the spokesperson for the province’s artists and to act as a liason between the public and our public institutions with respect to these issues. VANL-CARFAC has heard from many artists, stakeholders, members of the business community and numerous cultural supporters from around the province, and from across the county, who have expressed serious concerns regarding the Rooms’ future.
Given the current situation, it is imperative that the province’s population has assurances that the integrity of our primary public art gallery will be preserved, that professional and artistic standards are maintained, and that the staff will have adequate resources to fulfill the mandate set out in the Rooms Act: to reflect the culture of the province, to provide outreach to communities around the province and to ‘research, present and interpret art in a professional manner.’ The answers to these questions will have ramifications not only within Newfoundland and Labrador, but also will impact the Rooms’ ability to meaningfully represent the province on a national level.
As a first step, following the budget cuts, VANL-CARFAC and the Eastern Edge Gallery organized the ART=WORK forum, to hear the concerns from within the sector. In response to repeated requests by those who could not attend the forum in person, a petition was drafted to provide an opportunity for the voices of all cultural supporters, from all across the province, to be heard. We encourage everyone to click here to go the petition and to lend your support by signing and leaving a strong comment of support.
In the coming weeks, VANL-CARFAC will be posing a variety of questions to the CEO and Board of Directors of The Rooms and to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. These questions include the following:
- Will the status of the Rooms Art Gallery, as an individual entity within the corporation, be preserved?
- What is the plan for replacing professional staff in the vacated positions, and when will the hiring begin?
- Will The Rooms be able to fulfill its stated purpose as described in The Rooms Act, despite the recent cutbacks?
- Will the mandate of the Provincial Art Gallery remain as it is currently outlined in the Rooms Act?
- What is the status of the planned upcoming exhibitions for 2014 and beyond, and how has the scope and number of exhibitions been affected by these cuts–and what does this mean to future exhibitions in the Rooms Art Gallery?
VANL-CARFAC and The Rooms corporation are both mandated to educate and advocate with respect to visual art in this province, so we must work together to create an open exchange between our public art gallery and our province’s artists, to ensure that The Rooms will be able to properly foster and reflect the rich visual culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.
VANL-CARFAC welcomes all questions and comments regarding this issue. Please contact the advocacy committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, or VANL’s executive director, Dave Andrews, at email@example.com or by phone at 877-738-7303.
* This statement was amended on July 2 to correct an error which stated that the position of Manager of Exhibitions and Publications was eliminated.