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UPDATE: Vernon art gallery project on-hold for one more month

Gallery appealed to council to stick to its two previous approvals of Behind The Mask


The Vernon Public Art Gallery will have to wait another month for direction on its Behind the Mask project.

Gallery staff and board made a passioned plea to Vernon council Monday, July 18, asking that the project go ahead as presented and, as board president Andrew Powell pointed out, approved twice by council.

“This project has been vetted and all kinds of approvals have been given,” said Powell, stating that the city approved funds, Greater Vernon Advisory Council gave its nod for the project as did Canada Council, which provided more than $53,000.

The Downtown Vernon Association has also promised funds for the project.

Any reconsideration of the project, said Powell, would hurt the gallery financially as well as its and the city’s reputations.

Council voted in June to return the project to the art gallery to start a public consultation project after residents were vocally opposed to it via social media comments and an online petition which drew thousands of names in opposition. There was also an online petition showing support.

The gallery presented its consultation findings (see Original Story, below), conducted solely with patrons visiting the gallery in person, and that drew a comment from Coun. Scott Anderson, who said he struggled to understand why no online feedback was allowed.

Coun. Kari Gares questioned if the survey was in some way skewed.

Coun. Akbal Mund stated that more than 2.25 per cent of people would have visited the gallery if they were against the project.

Because the gallery appeared before council as a delegation, Quiring told representatives it is council’s policy to not make decisions on delegations on the day they present.

“There’s a lot of information that has been discussed and brought up today and we will look forward to a report from staff. That’s the intent of the policy and this (project) is a good reason,” he said. “We have to come up some ideas.”

Staff will present its findings and recommendations to council for the next regular meeting, Monday, Aug. 15.


Vernon residents had their say over the Behind the Mask public art project with Vernon Art Gallery.

Of the 313 locals who completed the survey, 49.2 per cent say they strongly approve of the exhibition of mask and 215 individuals say the project has initiated more conversations around mental health.

However, the project still has opposition.

Participants in the survey had the chance to offer suggestions to aleviate any concerns. In the response from 182 people, recommendations were made to shorten the installations duration, create fewer murals than currently planned, choose different locations, and adding QR codes at the murals to offer more information on the series.

The gallery heard those concerns and drew up a modified proposal to go before Vernon council today (July 18).

The modified proposal includes decreasing the timeline from five to three years, relocating some of the murals, adding QR codes to offer more context to the public, and the reduce the number of murals despite approval for 13.

READ MORE: ‘Wearing a mask is a big part of how I feel’: Vernon students debate art


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