Art gallery will challenge referendum decision
Politicians are being urged to reverse a decision that has pushed cultural amenities to the sidelines.
The Vernon Public Art Gallery will lobby for an April referendum for a new facility although the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee opted Wednesday not to place a gallery and museum on the ballot.
“We are dismayed by the decision,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, VPAG executive director.
“We will continue to meet and provide information and support this community project moving forward.”
GVAC officials defend the move to only have a sports complex on the referendum ballot.
“I am not at a comfort level to go ahead,” said director Jim Garlick of a gallery and museum.
“There has to be a process and a plan in place.”
GVAC has asked the City of Vernon to determine suitable locations for cultural facilities, and once that is done, they will be considered by GVAC.
A plan would then be developed towards addressing the future of the art gallery and museum once Greater Vernon has a new cultural service.
There has been a concern that residents may not be willing to support borrowing funds — possibly up to $17.5 million — for cultural facilities at this time.
“I don’t see us rushing through a three or four-month timeline just to get on the referendum,” said director Juliette Cunningham.
An outstanding issue is location.
While the VPAG has proposed a facility on the old flower shop site on 31st Avenue, others have suggested the gallery and museum should go on the Coldstream Hotel property.
Garlick insists that the goal is to ensure a new museum and galley proceed long-term.
“We need to go through a proper process and develop a plan that the public takes ownership of,” he said.
However, Kennedy Grant says there has been considerable effort by the gallery and city staff to get a referendum package ready for April.
“We have done the work,” she said, adding that the lack of a facility could put a major print event at risk in 2015.
The Greater Vernon Museum is also disappointed with GVAC’s decision.
“We all know times are tough but culture adds to economic activity in the community,” said Ian Hawes, president.
“It’s more of an investment than a cost to the community. The need for a museum and art gallery is nothing new. It’s been discussed for 10 years.”
Hawes doesn’t anticipate that GVAC’s decision is the end of the matter.
“We will work with the art gallery and present a vision for culture in the community,” he said.