Benny Hannya puts the finishing touches on a room in the Vernon Public Art Gallery dedicated to street art. The exhibit

Benny Hannya puts the finishing touches on a room in the Vernon Public Art Gallery dedicated to street art. The exhibit

Tight finances put gallery at risk

A cash crunch is facing the Vernon Public Art Gallery.

A cash crunch is facing the Vernon Public Art Gallery.

Reductions in provincial grants, fundraising challenges and rising costs have left the non-profit agency with a difficult situation.

“We’re at risk of closing,” president Marion Morrison told the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee Friday.

“We’re on the verge of burnout if we can’t find a substantial amount of money.”

The gallery received $134,000 from GVAC in 2011 for operations but it’s seeking $175,000 for 2012. There was a $20,000 shortfall but it’s been covered by reserves.

To support the case for an expanded grant, the gallery presented information that shows cultural tourism has four times the economic impact of sports tourism and cultural infrastructure draws new business.

“We get people checking us out,” said Morrison.

“We get calls — ‘My husband has been transferred to Vernon. Is there a gallery? Is there a library? Can I take lessons there?”

The other challenge for the gallery is its financial year begins Jan. 1 but GVAC and provincial funds don’t materialize until the spring.

“We will exhaust our cash flow in the bank and we won’t be able to pay bills and staff,” said Stuart Moir, treasurer.

To assist, GVAC agreed Friday to advance a portion of its operational grant to the gallery. That undetermined figure will be based on 2011 while GVAC considers its level of assistance for 2012.

Morrison insists expenses have been reduced where possible.

If we cut staff, we cut back on hours and staff can’t continue part-time,” she said.

Financial concerns come at the same time that VPAG is seeking a new, expanded gallery.

“A new facility won’t cost much more to operate because better equipped facilities are less expensive to operate,” said Morrison, adding that a building with certain-sized exhibit space and climate controls could also access federal grants not currently available.

Keeping with culture, GVAC has been asked to increase its annual grant to Gallery Vertigo from $15,000 to $30,000.

“If we don’t have consistent operational funds, it makes it difficult to apply for specific (government) grants,” said Heidi Maddess, executive director.

Gyula Kiss, a GVAC director, is concerned about the pressure groups are placing on taxpayers.

“We have to justify the taxes we are spending,” he said.

“Taxes are getting higher and higher and taxpayers are getting more upset about it.”