Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador (VANL-CARFAC) on Structural Changes at The Rooms

For Immediate Release:

October 12th, 2017:   

VANL-CARFAC are expressing concern over the recent changes to the administrative structure of The Rooms’ Art Gallery.  In June, just prior to Vicky Chainey Gagnon’s departure as Director of the Art Gallery division, VANL-CARFAC had spoken with Mr. Brinton and had been assured that a new director, with a professional curatorial background, would be hired within six months to head the Art Gallery division.

On September 19th, VANL-CARFAC representatives met with Minister Mitchelmore and The Rooms’ CEO, Dean Brinton, to discuss the community’s concerns regarding The Rooms’ Provincial Art Gallery, and the status of the hiring process.  Following this meeting, The Rooms issued a press release confirming that two divisions have now been placed under the directorship of a single administrator, and Anne Chafe, Director of the Museum Division, has been appointed as the Director of the Art Gallery Division.  As a part of this new structure, the press release stated a second curator will be hired immediately and $50,000 will be redirected into art gallery exhibitions and programming.  As well, VANL-CARFAC was told one of the two curator positions would be appointed as Chief Curator of the Art Gallery.

 “VANL-CARFAC has expressed the community’s concerns to Mr. Brinton that the Art Gallery must be allowed to maintain its autonomy within the corporation,” said VANL-CARFAC chair, Jane Walker.  “Without an arts professional representing the gallery at the management level, that autonomy could very easily be chipped away.  Art Gallery programming needs to remain independent and driven by the curatorial direction of visual arts professionals, at all levels of the corporation.  We have expressed to Mr. Brinton and Minister Mitchelmore that we feel it’s vital that there should also be artist representation on The Rooms’ board of directors, in order to adequately represent the Gallery’s interests.”

Both Minister Mitchelmore and Mr. Brinton have stated that the new administrative structure will have no effect on the Gallery’s federal funding, nor on gallery programming.  However, there has been much concern within the community that this will not be the case.  These concerns are shared by former Gallery director, Vicky Chainey Gagnon.  Gagnon, in a recent interview with the CBC, said abolishing her position would negatively impact the gallery’s work by excluding necessary expertise from the management table.

Walker continues: “We have been assured this change is purely administrative and will not affect the autonomy or curatorial vision of the Art Gallery.  However, since the passage of Bill 56 and the changes to the Rooms Act, there have also been assurances that there were no plans for major changes within the gallery, and, if changes were to happen, there would be public consultations before any were made.  We were also assured that a director with a curatorial background would be hired. None of those things have happened, and so, there is a natural fear throughout the community as to what the future actually holds for the gallery.”  

For media requests or more information, contact Shelby Millwater at the VANL-CARFAC offices, 709-738-7303 or