Arts advocates up to bat again for new Burnaby art gallery

For decades, artists in Burnaby have been pushing for a new art gallery, without much success.
Now, the Burnaby Arts Council is hoping to resurrect the issue one more time in hopes of finally getting a new home for art in the city.
The council is hosting a public forum to discuss a new public art gallery for Burnaby.
The forum is scheduled for Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m., Room 103 at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.
Bill Thompson, chair of the arts council, suggested the current gallery located in Ceperley House at Deer Lake has reached a point where it can’t accommodate large shows.
The gallery has been housed at Deer Lake since the late ’60s, and he noted the population of the city has grown immensely since that time.
“There’s a real need and the time is right,” Thompson told the NOW.
“The city is going through a lot of changes. … This is great opportunity to make a statement on how the city believes in culture, it’s a creative city and how it needs to go forward and support its arts community.”
He also pointed out the current gallery can’t hold or store the city’s vast art collection of 5,000-plus art works on paper from noted artists including Robert Young, Sybil Andrews, Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt.  
It’s a similar sentiment echoed by David Handelman, another member of the arts council.
He said he has a great respect for the present gallery but suggested people in the community have felt the City of Burnaby could have a better gallery.
The forum will include brief presentations from a panel that includes members of the arts and education community. Panelists are expected to share their visions for a new gallery and how a new facility would provide benefits to the community. The second half of the forum is reserved for the comments of audience members who will be encouraged to share their vision for a new gallery.
The members of the arts council said at this point there are no limits on the location, scope or cost of a proposed art gallery.
“We’d just like see what people have to say,” Handelman said.
Meanwhile, Thompson is hoping for a good turnout from the public to demonstrate the support for a new gallery, noting some city councillors and city staff are also expected to be in attendance.
Following the meeting, he’s also hoping the city will look at funding a strategic plan as part of a first phase.
The issue of a new gallery has been going on since the early 1970s, when a new art gallery was a priority and plans were made up.
In 1987, a proposed art gallery and performing arts theatre in civic square were part of the original plans beside the Bob Prittie library. Then in 1998, there was another plan for an art gallery expansion, and a feasibility study was completed, along with public support. 

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