Vernon Public Art Gallery blasts GVAC officials

At least one cultural group claims it has been betrayed by elected officials.

There won’t be a referendum on a proposed new art gallery and museum until at least 2015 after the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Thursday to proceed with an arts and culture master plan. Also, the location of facilities will be scrutinized.

“It’s completely shocking and blind-siding,” said Dauna Kennedy Grant, Vernon Public Art Gallery executive director.

“We see this as an enormous step backwards.”

The Vernon Public Art Gallery originally wanted a referendum in the spring of 2014 but that was  abandoned because of GVAC’s desire to do a more in-depth study of cultural matters. It had been suggested that November 2014 may be possible for a vote so the deferral to 2015 caught Kennedy Grant off-guard.

“We are very frustrated,” she said.

“The public wants to speak (support a new gallery) but they are being prevented from having their say.”

The $100,000 master plan will look at long-term facility needs for all cultural amenities in Greater Vernon.

“There will be disappointment by the art gallery because they wanted to go ahead in November but if we do a comprehensive analysis we will get better buy-in from the community,” said Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson.

While the Greater Vernon Museum and VPAG have identified separate sites for their projects, the GVAC review will consider locations and whether a single structure would make more sense.

“We haven’t really discussed what the options are,” said Cunningham.

“The community should have input for options.”

That view is supported by director Mike Macnabb.

“Groups coming to us for money have to understand that there our strings attached and they can’t run independent facilities,” he said, adding that other groups may be incorporated with the museum and gallery.

Tannis Nelson, community development co-ordinator, says many residents keep debating where the gallery and museum should be located and the issue must be resolved.

“It won’t go away without an analysis of the sites and that (controversy) would be a hindrance to a referendum,” she said.

However, Kennedy Grant disagrees, saying that sites were selected in conjunction with the City of Vernon and VPAG has followed every request made by GVAC.

“We have been around and around this. It makes no sense to revisit it,” she said of the locations.

“It’s a complete waste of tax dollars.”

While insisting there continues to be a need for a new art gallery, Kennedy Grant isn’t sure where GVAC’s actions leave her organization or the museum.

“We need to review the information and what came out of the meeting,” she said.

“From there, we will have to decide what we will do.”



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