Vancouver Art Gallery gets $2-million endowment to collect young B.C. talent
TheVancouver Art Gallery announced this morning the creation of a new endowment for the purchase of art by emerging B.C. artists. The $2-million Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund, established by the Vancouver-based Audain Foundation, is believed to be the largest endowment of its kind in the country.
It will be used by the VAG to purchase artwork by artists up to 35 years of age who have not yet participated in solo exhibitions in major public galleries. The endowment brings the total Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation’s holdings to a total of $9.3 million.
At a news conference this morning, VAG director Kathleen Bartels and Audain Foundation chair Michael Audain unveiled the first piece purchased with the fund: a photo-based artwork by Vancouverite Mark Soo entitled That’s That’s Alright Alright Mama Mama. The piece depicts two views, in 3-D, of a reconstruction of Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley recorded That’s All Right (Mama) in 1954.
“Through this initiative we will continue to build and expand the gallery’s collection of British Columbia art,” Bartels said at the news conference. “This unrivalled collection will be critical as we make plans to move toward a new Vancouver Art Gallery with permanent collection galleries dedicated specifically to British Columbia art and artists.”
Audain, who is also the chair of the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation and a trustee of the National Gallery of Canada, elicited some giggles when he addressed the assembled media and gallery staff with the words:
“It’s all very well to collect the work of the dead and the near dead, but young people deserve also to be in this gallery. I suspect that in Vancouver today there are some artists of great promise who could be the Picassos or the Warhols of tomorrow. So start collecting their work, Kathleen.”
Following the news conference, Bartels spoke to the Straight about the importance of private donations to the gallery in view of governmental funding cuts to the arts.
“Our funding from the government at all levels has declined for the last 15 years, so we have been very focused, particularly in the last seven to eight years in looking at other sources of funding beyond government,” she said. “But I think that balance is important, to have government support alongside corporations and individuals, and I think that government support certainly leverages individual philanthropy.”
She added that she, like many other arts and cultural workers in the country, is concerned about the most recent $45-million worth of cuts made by the Harper government to a variety of arts-supporting initiatives.
“As a leader of a very important visual arts institution in Canada, of course we’re concerned,” she said. “We have 48,000 members at the gallery so we serve a huge cross-section of the community and in addition to that we’re a cultural tourist destination. We have economically a very important role to play in the country and Vancouver in particular.”