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Time for permanent funding for art gallery, councillors argue

“We have so much potential,” said Brooke Yeates, chair of the gallery's board of governors “It really is dependent ... on the support and commitment from council.” In 2014, the city provided $100,000 to the gallery, a dip of $20,000 a year before.
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The Art Gallery of Sudbury is currently housed in the Bell Mansion near Bell Park. The gallery is working on building a $25 million gallery downtown, which would be renamed the Franklin Carmichael Art Gallery. File photo.
“We have so much potential,” said Brooke Yeates, chair of the gallery's board of governors “It really is dependent ... on the support and commitment from council.”
In 2014, the city provided $100,000 to the gallery, a dip of $20,000 a year before. The funding comes from the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, which provides grants to arts group from a dedicated fund.

However, some city councillors said Tuesday the next council should start providing permanent operational funding, rather than through the GSDC. Having stable funding of its own would help the gallery attract money from other sources for its downtown gallery plan.

“Leaving the art gallery on the edge year after year must be revisited,” said Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau.

With the city's cultural scene maturing, he said we're no longer the city where “we just play bingo and get stinko. We've developed far beyond that ... It's time to put our big boy pants on and make a decision to fund the gallery.”

And Ward 7 Coun. David Kilgour said it's unfair to give such a large part of their arts funding to the gallery for operational funding, meaning other arts groups get less. The time has come to commit to funding the gallery.

“I'm pleased to see so many positive comments around the table today,” Kilgour said. “We either move forward as a city ... or we'll just continue to be a city of 165,000 that's aging, but not growing.”

Kett said council should seize the chance to develop such an important cultural landmark in

“We can sit idly by and lose a Franklin Carmichael Gallery,” he said. “We just can't ... We have to do something about this.”

The gallery has cut its deficit from $400,000 to $30,000 in recent years, and has seen its arts education programming grow by 84 per cent last year alone. Vice-chair Josée Forest-Niesing said the gallery is set to make its mark in the city.

“We're not kidding when we say we are on the cusp of greatness” Forest-Niesing said. “We have been able to develop things and do things at the gallery that we haven't been able to before.

“It will become your legacy, as council,” she added, of the new gallery.

Despite the support of councillors Tuesday, any change to the way the AGS is funded can only happen after the Oct. 27 election. The city budget process will kick into high gear in December, after the new mayor and council are sworn in.

Darren MacDonald

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