An open letter to mayor and council:
Due to boring circumstances, including the frustration of having a password four characters too long to take the public survey regarding the proposed art gallery, which I therefore abandoned in mid-application:
Proposed location destroying the tennis court, its intrusion on one of town hall’s (all too few) excellent projects, Rutledge Field, and loss of 50 parking stalls: NO, NO, NO.
Proposed location south of the tracks, its intrusion on Ambleside Park’s leafy ambience, and loss of 100 parking stalls: NO, NO (i.e., one NO fewer than the above).
On the need for an art gallery at all, with its grotesque cost of an estimated and almost invariably underestimated cost of $34,000,000, mostly paid by expected contributions of senior governments, and in consideration that there is only one taxpayer for all, and further consideration that currently this could not be a worse time, other than a deeper depression than that of the 1930s, for such a bloated expenditure for such a small and vauntingly self-interested sector of the public: NO, NO, NO, NO.
This town, one of the richest in Canada and with the highest-cost real estate, doesn’t even have a single used bookstore, two having closed. It doesn’t have a movie theatre, the existing one closed decades ago, apart from the insanely up-scale, off-street one in Park Royal. It doesn’t have a single hotel, its only accommodation for visitors being a small motel on its western side. Of all cultural amenities, an art gallery is the one most qualified to be a non-starter.
To have a wide enough appeal to a wider public, it can only be in a fairly high-population city and it can only bring in that sector of the citizens, once they’ve had a go-round of the permanent collection and perhaps another visit or two a year, by mounting special showings of particular genres, periods, single great-reputation painters etc. that essentially tour big cities. An art gallery in West Vancouver would have, apart from the above disqualifications, a far too narrow appeal, and far too great running costs, to be a magnet for far too few residents or visitors.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is such a city [amenity]. And it has more than 11,000 paintings that are stored, and most of which have neither the quality nor the interest to ever be on public display. I rest my case: Council should drown this idea – hatched and pushed years ago by a former participant in Ottawa’s National Gallery, and run to ground then – many, many fathoms deep.
Editor’s note: The survey referenced in this letter is open for public input until 4 p.m. on June 16. Read about the proposals and take the survey here: westvancouverite.ca/artsplanning.