Penticton Art Gallery faces funding challenges

The cost of business has risen above funding presenting some funding challenges for the Penticton Art Gallery.

Curator Paul Crawford and administrator Brigitte Liapis of the Penticton Art Gallery in the building's Tea Room.

Curator Paul Crawford and administrator Brigitte Liapis of the Penticton Art Gallery in the building's Tea Room.

With costs rising and grant funding declining the Penticton Art Gallery is seeking further funding from the city and donors.

“I’ve been here 10 years. When I first started here we were getting $80,000 from the city. So we haven’t really gone up a whole lot, but there’s the reality of the cost of just doing business,” said Paul Crawford, curator at the Penticton Art Gallery.

Shipping, insurance and other costs have risen but funding has not matched the increases, whether that is from the city or grant funding.

City council visited the gallery in September and Crawford hopes to present to council before next year’s budget. Crawford knows advocating for arts funding the midst of an infrastructure deficit is a tough sell.

“It is tough. We’ve got a lot of tough things. We’re up against the hospital too, that’s a whole other challenge as well,” Crawford said. “Our ask isn’t huge. We’ve been getting $95,000 and we’re asking for $125,000.”

Costs on shipping is one of the largest factors, according to gallery administrator, Brigitte Liapis.

“We’ve seen a decrease in funding, on the whole, in general,” Liapis said. “We’re not going to fold. What it is, right now it’s like a bottleneck. It’s a little lean period. We kind of need immediate help in the short term.”

After funding, via grants and the city, the gallery is left to self-generate at about 55 per cent of their budget.

The gallery did spend a bit extra to bring in the 90 pieces of artwork from Syrian artists for the well-received, nationally-covered Behind the Lines exhibition held at the gallery earlier this year.

“Our Syrian show just cost a little bit more than we anticipated. But that money will certainly come back to us in time and the show is touring around and gaining great accolades everywhere it goes,” Crawford said. “It’s certainly serving the gallery really well.”

A reduced-size version of the Syrian art exhibit was sent to UBC recently and Crawford was invited to speak on a conference in the first week of November regarding the refugee crisis.

Two weeks ago, Crawford was on Vancouver Island University hosted another partial showing of the exhibition with around 40 works on display, where Crawford gave a lecture to some university classes.

A larger version of the show is currently at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse where Crawford is currently giving lectures. The pieces on display on Vancouver Island are heading to Brentwood College. Eventually all the work is going to Grand Forks where the exhibition will be shown in its entirety.

The Langley Centennial Museum and the Military Museums of Calgary have expressed interest as well.

“To me, I love it. I’ve had other shows that have toured, and it has been great. This is one that seems to take on an added relevance with people. It’s really exciting to go to these other communities and see just how excited they get about the show and about the artist and their work,” Crawford said. “Conversely it’s amazing to see these people in these other communities reach out to the artists.”

It really sort of brings me back to what really, for me, was the beginning of this thing which was having pen pals and that idea of reaching out and meeting people out in the world. Seeing it sort of take a life of its own is pretty exciting for me.”

The Penticton arts community has come together to support the gallery as well.

Anthem: A Leonard Cohen Tribue Night, featuring Penticton poet Shane Koyczan, sold out its first night and added another, now hosting two shows at the Cleland Community Theatre (Dec. 17 and 18 ) to benefit the gallery and the Dream Café. Also the Farty Arty Party held at Cannery Brewing Co. raised $2,254.75 for the gallery.

“It’s wonderful to see the community rallying around (us). The problem that we have has been an accumulating problem over a number of years, which is a decrease in revenue in terms of grants just not keeping up with the cost of doing business,” Crawford said.

There is no set date yet, but Crawford hopes to present to city council prior to budget deliberations in January.

“We don’t cause too many problems to the city, we don’t ask a lot, this is really the first time in five years we’re actually going out to them with our hat out saying look we need a little bit of help to make up the difference of what the costs of doing business has gone up by,” Crawford said.

 

 

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