Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Base Infrastructure

That Roger Ebert should refer to non-New York City theatre spaces as existing in "the provinces" is an instance of a large, timeworn urban centre defining itself not by what it does, but by what it does not. "Off-Broadway" is yet another instance of this negative (self-)conception.

Vancouver's visual art scene does not have a Broadway. If it does, it is the Vancouver Art Gallery, which, over the past fifteen years, has proven itself to be more of an ally than an enemy of those who appreciate the rich interior life that art and its contemplation inspires.

Like many in the local arts communities, I support a new Vancouver Art Gallery, but am uneasy with the ends-over-means manner its board chairs and director have gone about it. Rather than run a campaign that balances garden suites and penthouses, the VAG has spent too much time in the latter, earning its elitist tag, rather than doing what it can to dispel it.

Next week the VAG unveils a maquette of its new building: a sequence of boxes on poles designed to excite those in search of the new and the unusual. That much of this structure will (potentially) be made of wood is also something to look forward to.

Something else to look forward to is a new City Manager, as the former Manager was arguably the biggest impediment to the new building and its siting.

The final piece in the puzzle, apart from Liberal MP Hedy Fry's re-election and her boss Justin Trudeau forming the next federal (majority) government, is some serious lobbying by someone who has appeared largely absent (when not appearing to take orders from the former City Manager) throughout the VAG's journey -- the Mayor of Vancouver.

With provincial government monies already committed, and a developer (and federal Liberal party member) willing to grout the deal with cash, the VAG will have secured the three levels of government needed to turn a paved parking lot into what some are already calling a visual art paradise.

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