Canada Line public art program would feature work on loan from commercial galleries

Vancouver City Council will be asked to give its blessing tomorrow (July 21) to a Canada Line public art program that is set to open with artworks on loan from commercial galleries.

The program is to be funded, essentially in full, by InTransitBC (the private company responsible for constructing and operating the Canada Line).

As outlined in a staff report, the plan is for the city to waive an annual $20,000 City Retail Compensation Fee (money collected by the city in exchange for allowing the lease of retail operations in Canada Lane stations), provided InTransitBC then redirect that money to the public art program.

In addition, the program is expected to collect a minimum of $80,000 annually from InTransitBC, through the contribution of two percent of gross revenues from retail leases.

The first set of artworks to be displayed will not be new commissions, however. Instead, the project will feature pieces on offer from individual artists and private groups, including the Douglas Udell Gallery and the Vancouver Biennale. The artworks have been selected by an advisory panel that includes collectors Colleen and Howard Nemtin, architect Joost Bakker, gallery owner Douglas Udell, as well as InTransitBC CEO Jean-Marc Arbaud and Canada Line Rapid Transit CEO Jane Bird.

How long those artworks would remain on display is not mentioned in the staff report, which explains that "the limited time before the Line opens precludes new artwork commissions for this first exhibition".

Later on, according to the staff report, the focus will be on curating works from artists working in non-commercial practices or without gallery representation, and working with artist-run centres and non-profit galleries. A long-term administrative structure for the project has yet to be determined.

The Straight has requested an interview with acting managing director of cultural services Richard Newirth, and is awaiting a reply.