The director and cocurator of Presentation House Gallery, Reid Shier, is thrilled to have a key financial piece in place to proceed with development of stunning new exhibit space.
Today, North Vancouver Conservative MP Andrew Saxton announced that Ottawa will match $2.5-million contributions from the City of North Vancouver and the B.C. government to enable construction to begin early next year on the new Polygon Gallery.
The building was designed by Patkau Architects and will be visible from Vancouver beside Lonsdale Quay Market.
"We're exceedingly thankful for the federal government's involvement right now," Shier told the Georgia Straight by phone. "To be able to do it on the waterfront of Metro Vancouver is a testament to the City of North Vancouver's confidence in our project."
Shier explained that the new gallery will be about 24,000 square feet, including ground-level retail that will be leased to generate revenue.
The existing Presentation House Gallery at 333 Chesterfield Avenue is 5,000 square feet, so the new building will enable the organization to triple its programming space.
"It will provide us with a geographic locus as well as the proper facilities for showing art that we always wanted to," Shier said.
Presentation House Gallery had a goal of raising $15 million. The recent federal contribution takes the capital campaign over the $14-million mark, according to Shier.
The biggest boost came last year when Polygon Homes Ltd. donated $2 million, which was matched by a family foundation created by the company's chairman, Michael Audain.
"It was not only an extraordinary and generous gift to the institution, but it really was a vote of confidence in what we're doing," Shier said. "I think it provided some impetus to the fundraising efforts that have happened since."
City of North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto told the Straight by phone that he was on the gallery's board after he was first elected to council 21 years ago. He described the current board as "very focused, very productive, and very civil".
"They're just very good at relationships," Mussatto said. "It's not really a surprise when you see a board functioning at such a high level to achieve so much."
The mayor called Presentation House "the little gallery that could", saying it has achieved a worldwide reputation.
"We're branding Lower Lonsdale as a place to go in the afternoon and evening," Mussatto said. "So the [new] gallery is going to keep their hours open to match the activity down there."
In addition to its $2.5-million contribution, the city also provided land for the Polygon Gallery. The North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission provides operating funds to Presentation House Gallery.
The commission's funding comes from the District of North Vancouver as well as from the city government.
"They fund us generously," Shier said.
He noted that all approvals are in place for the new gallery except for a building permit, which will be applied for in the next month.
Presentation House Gallery was launched in 1976 and has featured the work of some of the most celebrated artists in North America. The list includes local greats Stan Douglas, Ian Wallace, Rodney Graham, and Fred Herzog, as well as Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, and Diane Arbus, among others.