august 22, 2012
When word began to spread that the Art Gallery of Windsor was moving the city library into its main floor for financial reasons, an all-too-familiar sense of economic anxiety rippled through the city's cultural community. It signaled further afield that the manufacturing town was not repairing quite so quickly as we need it to.
The proposal in the works is that the museum will sell its building back to the city, and the city's library take over the expansive gallery's main floor.
AGW Director, Catharine Mastin, notes that what sets this institution apart is its mortgage, taken out in 2009, which consolidated the accrued deficits of the past decade. "The proposal is that we sell the building such that the gallery be relieved of that burden," Mastin says. "Without ongoing capital expenses, this gives us an opportunity to get back to a situation where we're not constantly running structural deficits." The lease is proposed to be a 50-year arrangement that will allow the museum to stay there, with utilities and building expenses covered. Following this, the AGW (which bought the old building for a dollar, in 1975) will need to continue generating revenue from other sources for the gallery’s core operations.
"There are lots of different models for how galleries operate their facilities," Mastin says, in response to the suggestion that the AGW's owning its own building is somewhat anomalous. "Some galleries own their buildings, some don't. They have a municipal arrangement, or a national or provincial arrangement. Maybe the municipality owns the building, like what we're proposing, or in other cases, like the Art Gallery of Hamilton, which owns their own building."
When asked what the compromises the museum will have to make when another institutional agenda is introduced, Mastin replies thoughtfully, "That's a very good question. We are relinquishing one gallery space on the main floor. The AGW will still have its premium exhibition galleries on the 2nd and 3rd floors and our purpose-built collection storage spaces as well as educational, public programming, etc.." As far as the potential benefits, Mastin cites "Discussions which have included upgrades to the exhibition galleries. And, with respect to exhibitions, we are presenting 17 to 20 shows annually the proposed co-tenant in the Windsor Public Library offers great potential for audience growth." Mastin also notes that the two institutions "share the mandate of social literacy—the gallery emphasizing the visual, and the library the textual. Our two public programming commitments offer opportunity for strong synergies in the years ahead."
via: blouin art info
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