Ottawa pledges $29.3 million to build a $400 million Vancouver art gallery

Fundraising for a $400 million proposal at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) has now surpassed $280 million thanks to the federal government at an event this morning that pledged its first round of financial support: 29 .3 million.

The new funds include $4.3 million from Canadian Heritage, with the remaining $25 million coming from Infrastructure Canada.

Vancouver Center MP Hedy Fry announced the new funding and, at the end of her speech, said, “Maybe we can see each other next year for more money.

fry said VBI after the event that she was “ready to roll up my sleeves” in her efforts to ensure that the federal government gave more money, although she did not provide a specific amount. Often, projects include matching funds from the provincial and federal governments.

The VAG has been planning for about 14 years to move from its Robson Square location to a new site on the southern two-thirds of the block bounded by Cambie, Dunsmuir, Beatty and West Georgia streets.

Former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell launched a fundraiser for a new gallery with a pledge of $50 million in 2008.

The VAG has asked the province for an additional $50 million, but has yet to receive that money.

B.C. Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said in November VBI that the granting of this additional funding of $50 million was dependent on other support.

“We need the federal government, and at all levels [of government] to get to the table,” Mark said at the time. “We have to paddle together and make sure we cross the finish line.

This stance on the new art gallery was in stark contrast to the provincial government’s approach to building a new museum. Prime Minister John Horgan announced in May that his government would fully fund a $789 million museum in Victoria, before public opposition prompted him in June to postpone the project and hold more consultations.

No representative of the provincial government was present at today’s event at the VAG.

Vancouver City Council in 2013 agreed to give VAG a 99-year lease on the desired site, known as Larwill Park despite being a parking lot. The site was valued at $100 million at the time, but the VAG does not include this in-kind donation as part of the money it raised or in the cost of the project.

“Our target is still 400 million,” said VAG CEO Anthony Kiendl. VBI after the announcement. “We’re just over 70% there, so we’ve continued to fundraise privately.”

In 2021, the price for the new gallery was set at $355 million, including a $50 million endowment fund. The VAG then increased its estimate of the cost of the project to $400 million last November, when Polygon Homes CEO and Audain Foundation Chairman Michael Audain and his wife Yoshi Karasawa pledged their foundation would provide $100 million. dollars to the project.

Other major donors include the Chan family, led by patriarch Caleb Chan, who pledged in 2019 to provide $40 million. Aritzia CEO Brian Hill and his wife, Andrea Hill, pledged $5 million. Over the years, various VAG board members have also pledged funding.

The Chan family’s donation was enough to name the VAG building the Chan Center for Visual Arts.

“The new VAG of the Chan Center for Visual Arts is more than just a building, it will become a destination in our province and our country,” Kiendl said in his speech. “It will help boost our economy and accommodate new public amenities, including an Indigenous gathering place, an art-focused early childhood child care centre, public green spaces, a state-of-the-art theater and artist-in-residence studios. .

He added that the gallery will have classrooms dedicated to community programming and public conference spaces that can be used for lectures, films and other events.

“The new VAG will be a transformative gathering place for Vancouver, for British Columbia and for Canada,” he said.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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William E. Bennett