Friday, December 01, 2006

Mendel Art Gallery hosed by governments and media – Saskatoon StarPhoenix letter to the editor – December 1, 2006

Mendel treatment unfair by governments, media

The StarPhoenix

Friday, December 1, 2006

In Cultural union opportunity missed (SP, Nov. 22) civic affairs columnist Gerry Klein beat up on the Mendel, hoping to revive interest in the desperate idea of relocating it to the city’s ill-fated River Landing development.

Given what transpired last year, the Mendel has good reason to be concerned. Local media didn’t seem eager to investigate the bias and unfairness that plagued the federal government’s centennial funding fiasco.

To meet eligibility criteria, the Mendel apparently was required to confirm provincial funding. This even though the submission guidelines did not say provincial funding was an eligibility requirement.

Why was the Mendel required to secure provincial funding and Prairieland Park not? Western Economic Diversification (WD) is funding 80 per cent of that centennial project.

Why did WD hold the Mendel to a higher standard in requiring it to confirm 30 per cent of its funding when the guidelines said 20 per cent?

Why was River Landing Phase I Riverfront Park chosen ahead of the Mendel, which was higher on the city’s priority list to WD? Why did WD not ask the Mendel to provide confirmation letters for gifts?

In December 2005, the city included Persephone on its list of proposals, even though it doesn’t own the Persephone. Why did WD accept this? Even with the cost of its project soaring to $11 million from $6.5 million, Persephone’s funding never seemed in doubt.

In November 2005, the Saskatchewan legislature approved $3.03 million for culture operations support, $2.5 million of which was targeted toward Saskatoon ’s centennial legacy capital project. This was the same amount Persephone requested from the province in July 2005. Coincidence?

The Mendel had asked the province for $4.5 million. It seems it never stood a chance.

Joe Kuchta

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


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