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Vancouver Art Gallery reveals $886,000 budget shortfall at General Meeting

The Vancouver Art Gallery at Hornby and West Georgia streets.

simon hayter The Globe and Mail

The Vancouver Art Gallery, about to mark its 80th anniversary and in the middle of a campaign for a new building, has posted a large operating deficit. The $886,000 budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30 was revealed at the VAG's Annual General Meeting this week.

"It's certainly significant," said gallery director Kathleen Bartels. "It's very disappointing of course with an institution as established and solid as the Vancouver Art Gallery."

In 2009-10, the VAG posted an operating surplus of $144,000.

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Ms. Bartels blamed the economy and a downturn in tourism for the shortfall.

"The global economic climate has hit the Vancouver Art Gallery like many other not-for-profits in Vancouver and across North America. But it certainly has had its mark on us in every aspect of our operations."

When asked what the gallery would be doing about the shortfall, Ms. Bartels did not offer anything concrete. "We're dealing with it head-on. The board and staff are very focused and we'll continue on with our long-term financial planning and strategies. And we're working very closely together with the board to get ourselves back on track in these very difficult economic times."

When pressed, she added: "In general when these things happen, you just have to kind of refocus your strategies and ... continue to be nimble and focused and staying on top of the ball like we always do."

No layoffs are planned.

Ms. Bartels said the operating deficit will not have an impact on the gallery's plans to relocate to a new facility, estimated to cost about $300-million. A site a few blocks east of the gallery has been reserved for two years as the potential site for a new VAG, as the City studies the options.

"I think we're still moving forward with the renewal of the gallery and that's not changed," said Ms. Bartels.

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Next Wednesday, the gallery will celebrate its 80th birthday with admissions by donation. It has also installed an exhibition to mark the milestone An Autobiography of Our Collection.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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