#Arts & Entertainment
Lambton County Council

Courtesy of the Sarnia Artists' Workshop, here are some questions and answers about the new home for Gallery Lambton:

This is info on the new Gallery 16 Questions answered

1. Why do we need a new art gallery? Isn't the space at Bayside Centre sufficient?

Over the past few years Gallery Lambton has experienced a growth in attendance by 75%. In its current Bayside Centre location however, Gallery Lambton is limited and has long suffered from many problems including: lack of visibility, limited and inadequate exhibition and programming space, issues surrounding climate control, insufficient & inadequate storage space and inadequate administration areas.

2. How many people use or visit the Gallery?

Currently, visitor attendance is approximately 20,000/year. This reflects a considerable increase in the past two years (20% each year), due to a renewed artistic vision which has resulted in an exhibition program that is more relevant to our community and more dynamic ancillary programming. After a surge in the first few years once the new Gallery is opened (where attendance could easily be double this number as a result of the novelty and curiosity effect) attendance is expected to settle into a new norm of approximately 25,000 visits annually. This is a conservative estimate based on attendance at public art galleries in similar communities.

3. Where is the new Gallery going to be located?

In the fall of 2009, the County of Lambton purchased the former Sak's Building and John Howard Society Building at the corner of Christina and Lochiel Streets in Downtown Sarnia for the new Gallery Lambton.

4. Isn't the Sak's Building in too bad of shape? Will it be new construction, or a renovation of the existing building?

Current plans call for the façade of the Saks building to be preserved. The interior of the Saks and the John Howard Building will be demolished and there will be new construction. The façade is just a 'skin'. The gallery will be a combination of three types of construction; historic restoration, new build and adaptive re-use on the second floor of the CIBC.

5. Is there enough space in that building for a new Gallery, and how is CIBC, the next door neighbor involved?

In total, the size of the new Gallery will be 17,400 square feet and this will meet all of the Gallery's needs. The CIBC has agreed to allow the County to use the second floor of their adjoining building for additional space.

6. Have you completed a study to ensure there is enough parking?

County Lambton staff consulted with the City of Sarnia staff. There are 510 free parking spaces and 24 free handicapped spaces available in the immediate vicinity of the new gallery. In surrounding parking lots there are an additional 673 regular and 12 handicapped parking spaces.

7. Why is it going to cost $9.2 million to build it, and why have some people claimed that the estimate keeps rising, from an original $6 million.

The County will not know the cost of building the new gallery until it reviews proposals from three proponents who are interested in the project. However, a report from two independent consulting firms over the past two years noted that a new gallery could cost anywhere between 6.4 and 10 million depending on the type of construction - new build or adaptive re-use.

The reason this estimate is more expensive than a traditional building is because an art gallery is a specialized building on top of which Gallery Lambton is a designated Category A Gallery. The Gallery has the privilege to collect and show significant works of art that have been identified by the Canadian Government as important pieces of Canadian Cultural property. In order to achieve this honor, the Gallery is required to meet a variety of strict building and operational standards which include high level environmental, lighting and security controls. In order to achieve these standards the facility will require highly specialized mechanical systems and the building envelope will require specialized treatment as well.

8. Shouldn't taxpayers' money be spent on more critical infrastructure or social programs in this difficult economy?

The funds that have been allocated for the project to date (3 million from the federal government and 2.6 from County Lambton) come at no additional cost to County Taxpayers. 1.1 million is part of the 3.3 million that came to the County through the "Investing in Ontario Infrastructure Grant". These funds have to be spent on Infrastructure. The County distributed that 3.3 million to Roads (680,000), to upgrading elevators in County social housing (470,000) and 1 million to preparing the site for the new social housing unit on London Road and 1.1 million to the new gallery. The other 1.5 million are funds that will be realized through lease hold savings over a 20 year period ….so again, these are dollars that are already designated to the gallery and cannot be allocated elsewhere.

The federal government's Economic Stimulus Program which has been set up to stimulate our difficult economy, recognizes Cultural Infrastructure as critical to the overall economic recovery of our country. The federal government in Ottawa awarded the County of Lambton $3 million in funding through the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. This money is set aside specifically for cultural projects, such as the construction of a new art gallery.

Because this funding is part of the stimulus program, there are tight timelines connected to its spending. One third of the three million must be spent by March 31, 2010 the remainder by March 31, 2011, Therefore, the timing is right to move forward on this cultural project. Without this significant federal funding, the project just simply could not be completed. If this $3 million is not spent in Lambton County on this project, it will be spent elsewhere in Canada for a similar Cultural infrastructure project.

9. Why should a community even invest in 'cultural' projects?

First, investing in cultural projects provides cultural and social opportunities to residents living in Lambton County. This creates a healthy and balanced community. Secondly, investing in cultural projects provides an economic benefit.

Tourism will be a primary source of economic stimulation for Lambton County in the future. It is currently our 3rd largest industry. Located close to the waterfront, shops and restaurants, it will be a major draw in bringing cultural tourists and the accompanying economic benefits into the Lambton community.The Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model (TREIM),was used to assess the economic impacts of this project at both regional and provincial levels. It has shown that the new gallery will have a positive economic impact on Lambton County.

A projected 30 FTE positions will be generated during the construction phase and a projected 4 FTE positions will be created on a permanent basis by the time the new gallery is fully staffed.

Cultural infrastructure contributes to the enhanced level and type of quality of life in the community that in turn attracts the creative thinkers. These people invest in and start businesses, therefore generating jobs.

10. How does an art gallery help the local economy?

There could be many economic 'spin-offs' as a result of constructing a new art gallery. Here are just a few:

• Restaurants, bars & hotels (tourism & visiting artists)
• Surrounding shops and boutiques (tourism)
• Printing & design (catalogues, posters, invitations, etc)
• Shipping companies (art)
• Fees to artists, instructors, lecturers
• Internet technicians (pod casts, on line exhibitions etc)
• Videographers (pod casts, documentation etc)
• Caterers for openings, other receptions & functions
• Musicians for openings, other receptions & functions

11. What kind of exhibits will be in the new gallery? Will we see a big change from the current exhibits?

The gallery remains committed to offering a broad range of high level contemporary and historical, traditional and avant-garde exhibitions to the community. We are excited that the new space positions us to borrow work and exhibitions from some of Canada's leading art institutions, something we are currently unable to do.

12. How many pieces are in Gallery Lambton's collection and what is it worth? Will the permanent collection, including pieces from the Group of Seven, be on display constantly in the new building, since you will have more space?

Gallery Lambton has a collection of 1089 works of art. The collection is priceless to our community, especially to those original members of the Sarnia Women's Conservation Art Association who donated the first 16 pieces by Group of Seven artists and their contemporaries. However, in 2006 the collection was valued at $12.8 million. The collection will be re-appraised when it moves to the new Gallery.

There will be a designated gallery space to showcase work from our permanent collection at all times. No work from the permanent collection will be up permanently.

There are a number of reasons why it is not a good idea to permanently display pieces of the collection. Extended exposure to the elements including temperature, humidity, light and pollutants, even in a controlled environment, shortens the life span of the art. Second, there are over 1000 works in the collection that have been acquired for the people of Lambton County and for the country. These works were acquired because of their importance in the story of Canadian art and we are obligated to tell their story as well. Third, if work is always available, even work by the Group of Seven, it becomes ‘invisible’ over time.

13. How much will it cost to run and maintain this new gallery?

The County of Lambton provides an annual operating budget of $634,010 to Gallery Lambton. Based on financial analysis, the operating costs for the new gallery could increase by an estimated $202,000. These additional funds will come from a combination of revenue generating opportunities such as facility rental and framing services, an annual gifting fund and planned giving program to which local residents and corporations may subscribe, and government cultural grants and/or an increased municipal levy.

14. What is so special about Gallery Lambton that makes it different from art galleries in other locations?

The gallery's programming is based on the cultural dynamics of our community within the framework of the larger (provincial & national) arts community. Encompassing a wide range of art forms and art practices, from performance and video art to traditional media like painting, photography and contemporary ceramics, our programming builds audience and offers opportunities for artistic and curatorial development at both the local and national level. An exploratory attitude together with a desire and capacity to be immediately responsive to our community is what sets us apart.
By providing the opportunity for artists to develop new works specifically for our gallery (Peter von Tiesenhausen, Mark Laliberte, the emerging artist series etc.) our programming contributes to the field of visual art practice. Additionally, we have commissioned emerging curators to work with the gallery curator in the development of new exhibitions specifically for our gallery (Connecting to Collections 1&2, Black Holes). In this way Gallery Lambton is beginning to contribute to the academic research on Canadian art.
The programming is directly connected to the pulse of the community. By re-imagining how art can be presented and by exploring what constitutes visual art and culture, the gallery's programming challenges and extends the traditional narratives of visual art within our community through contemporary and historical programming. By having the flexibility to be responsive to the community, we are able to develop programming that resonates in the moment, for example the Connecting to Collections exhibitions in response to the confusion around the role of the public gallery as it relates to the way it works with their permanent collection.

15. Were members of the public involved in this process and who was involved in the decision making process?
Absolutely - members of the public were involved in the process. This project actually started long ago - in 2002. An advisory committee, made up of members from the general public, artistic, business and political community was put in place to support the gallery and in 2002, launched a strategic planning process focused on determining the level of commitment in the community for a public art gallery.

The strategic planning process determined that there was a high level of support and a clear desire to see the gallery re-claim a position of vitality in the region through the offering of a dynamic program of visual art and culture. There was unanimous recognition that, should the gallery re-claim this position, the gallery would need to relocate to a site that would offer increased access to the visual arts and where it could stand as a locus for a creative community re-vitalization.

Since 2007 the gallery has experienced a 75% increase in audience participation as well as a 57% increase in the number of exhibitions presented through the utilization of off-site locations and the front reception spaces.

With Lambton County Council's approval, Gallery Lambton commissioned a study, "Gallery Lambton Expansion Planning Study" to evaluate the potential for a new and improved Gallery in order to better meet the needs of County residents and future visitors. The study included a business plan, the basics of a fundraising plan and examined possible locations. It also solicited information from the public through interviews, focus groups and a public meeting. The needs of the gallery were also identified. This report was presented to Lambton County Council on February 18, 2009. At that time, Lambton County Council directed staff to undertake a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to determine potential sites for a new gallery.

16. How much money does the County of Lambton want to raise through community fundraising? Who is taking on that task?

Gallery Lambton has set a fundraising goal of $3.5 million.

A fundraising company by the name of Ketchum Canada is organizing the fundraising campaign and they have appointed a person to work exclusively on this project. The fundraiser is working with government officials, senior staff, and members of the community to develop the fundraising campaign.

We, the undersigned, call on Lambton County Council to follow through with their plans for creating and supporting a new Gallery Lambton at the heritage site of the Old Saks Building on the corner of Lochiel and Christina.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Support the New Gallery Lambton petition to Lambton County Council was written by melissa upfold and is in the category Arts & Entertainment at GoPetition.