Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mendel Art Gallery: City of Saskatoon incorporates Art Gallery of Saskatchewan without public debate or input

Saskatoon city council appears to be moving full speed ahead with plans to establish a new art gallery at River Landing regardless of what the public might think.

On July 9, 2009, The Art Gallery of Saskatchewan Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit charitable corporation. According to records filed with the corporations branch of Saskatchewan Justice the mayor and all ten ward councillors are directors of the new entity.

The purpose of the corporation is to “operate a publicly owned and funded civic art gallery.” The registered office and mailing address is listed as city hall.

The new corporation was published in the August 7, 2009, edition of The Saskatchewan Gazette.

As a charitable corporation the assumption is the new art gallery can now begin soliciting for donations or gifts of money from the public. It can also receive grants from a government or government agency.

It was on April 3, 2009, when Mayor Don Atchison and Mendel Art Gallery board chair Art Knight announced that construction of a new $55-million art gallery at River Landing, to be known as the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan (AGS), is being proposed for federal infrastructure funding under the project category of sport and culture. The long-planned $24-million renovation and expansion of the current facility would be abandoned. The proposal, developed in secrecy, only became public at the last minute. The Mendel family, gallery members, donors and the public were not consulted.

The decision to pursue and incorporate a new gallery has never been debated at a public meeting of city council or any of its standing committees. All decisions and discussions thus far have occurred behind closed doors, some of which involved the provincial and federal governments.

The new gallery will not only mean having the Mendel name ripped from the marquee it could also mean the end to gallery’s legal name – The Saskatoon Gallery and Conservatory Corporation. How can the city keep both?

In a news release on April 3, Atchison said there “aren’t enough dollars from either governments or private donors to fund many different riverbank projects.”

It was at a public meeting of city council of January 3, 1967, that the Mendel’s articles and memorandum of association were approved. In fact, the majority of the process leading up to that point appears to have been conducted in an open and transparent manner. In stark contrast is the obsessive secretiveness that is being displayed by Saskatoon’s current city council. The public has been excluded from any meaningful participation whatsoever. And this is supposed to be a civically owned and publicly funded art gallery. What an absolute disgrace.

Recent Mendel posts:

August 21, 2009
July 19, 2009


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