Today, the Vancouver Sun has carried on its front page what looks like a news release from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Of course, it doesn't say "news release", and it doesn't appear on the VAG Web site with all of its other news releases.
But to me, the article certainly had that feel. The headline reads: "Vancouver Art Gallery chooses site for new museum".
If you drill deeper, you'll see that the VAG has its eyes on the city-owned block across the street from the Sandman Hotel on Georgia Street just east of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It's a huge parking lot and was one of the city's Live sites during the Olympics.
There are three people quoted in the print edition of story that arrived on my doorstep: VAG chairman David Aisenstat, the chair of the VAG relocation committee, Michael Audain, and the VAG's director, Kathleen Bartels.
The Vancouver Sun did not include a response from the city. Nor is there any sign of an attempt to seek a comment from Canadian Metropolitan Properties, which owns the Plaza of Nations.
Nearly two years ago, Premier Gordon Campbell announced that the B.C. government was contributing $50 million to help finance the VAG's move to a new waterfront location near the Plaza of Nations.
In October, the Straight reported that Canadian Metropolitan Properties hadn't received confirmation that the VAG was going to move there.
The company's senior vice president, Daisen Gee-Wing, told the Straight at the time that the city had suggested he prepare two development options. One should include the VAG and the other shouldn't.
The VAG never made Aisenstadt or Bartels available to the Straight to talk about this.
Anyone who knows anything about public relations will surmise that the VAG planned its move on the city-owned site long in advance.
The VAG knew that the Leonardo da Vinci show would attract huge audiences during the Olympics. It would also bring many "newbies" into the gallery, and they would witness how crowded the facility was.
That would set the stage for announcing a new site in the week after the Games ended.
By handing this story over to the Vancouver Sun, this ensured that the VAG's gambit would get on the front page.
The paper returned the favour by not quoting anyone who might be critical of turning over a prime piece of downtown property to the art gallery.
The VAG also talked to the Globe and Mail, snaring the front page of the B.C. section. At least the Globe included a quote from the city.
The site across from the Sandman Hotel is far too large and far too valuable only to accommodate the VAG, so there will likely be office towers and/or condominiums included in the development.
I would expect that the developer will receive a large density bonus in return for making room for a new art gallery. This will help finance the project.
Of course, none of this appeared in the VAG's news release—oops, I mean the Vancouver Sun article. That might muddy the waters and generate a backlash from those who prefer that density bonuses be used to finance affordable housing.
By releasing the story at this time, it also shifts attention away from the B.C. Liberal budget. Finance Minister Colin Hansen failed to heed the advice of a legislative committee to restore arts funding to the 2008-09 level.
Meanwhile, other media outlets that cover the arts—including CBC Radio, CBC TV, the Georgia Straight, and CTV, to mention a few—were left high and dry because the VAG chose not to distribute a news release to everyone simultaneously.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.