tom thomson art gallery

At tonight's City Council meeting, Councillor John Tamming, chair of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery Advisory Committee, presented a notice of motion with these words.

"I am very excited to bring this motion. I should note for all councillors that Aidan Ware, our head curator and director, is listening in and available for any questions.

Let me stress what this motion is not about. We are not voting to expand the gallery; we are not even voting to establish an expansion committee.

aidanwaresmallWe are asking Aidan to report to her advisory committee and to council on the merits of launching an expansion committee. By passing this motion, we would signal to Aidan and her hard working staff that we are very interested in her findings and the findings of any such future committee.

So we are taking baby steps. We are being deliberative. And that is the right approacbh.

But as chair of the Tom let me stress that we would not start this journey if the need was not serious and pressing.

We have one of the most important art collections in Ontario if not Canada. Tom Thomson is the most iconic of Canadian artists. We are blessed with an abundance of his art and that of his contemporaries.

We also are a regional centre for many of the artisans of our own community. As such, we tell each other our best and brightest stories through the mediums of sculpture, painting, drawing and other visual arts.

When you house the work of an icon, when you are at the intersection of local art, you have an obligation to make that house, that intersection as compelling as possible.

Permit me four quick points:

1. Our guests want more of an experience. Right now, as a cultural visit we take perhaps an hour or two at the very most. Our residents want more. Tourists want more. We need more and larger exhibition rooms if we are truly to sell ourselves as a cultural destination.

2. Storage is a serious issue. We last built 40 years ago. Then we had 800 odd pieces; now we have three times that. We cannot show our best stuff. Too much is in storage. And we cannot even store it on site. We do not want to say no to future benefactors.

3. Some of our staff have their offices in converted storage rooms. Enough said.

4. We have serious accessibility issues. The ramp and cramped elevator are just not in keeping with the welcome we wish to shout out to all members of our community.

The arts are a huge part of Owen Sound and region. With our new director, we are on a roll. To meet Aidan is to meet someone who knows the lay of the land, whose enthusiasm and competence are self evident. We need to run with that.

By passing this motion, we spend no money, we incur no obligations. We are simply giving Aidan our blessing to sow some seeds, ask some questions, explore some options and report back to her committee and to this council as to whether an expansion committee is the way to go.

Thank you.





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