Cornwall Ontario — The Art Gallery (TAG) of Cornwall was hit with a 21% budget cut in 2013. Some local artists have been publicly posting their opinions about this on TAG’s Facebook page in response to an initial posting made by TAG about the cuts. To summarize, a few have stated their disappointment with the cuts, however they are generally optimistic that other funds can be raised to make up the difference. Some are less sympathetic of The Art Gallery’s woes perceiving this as a punitive measure by the City because of issues The Art Gallery has had getting grant proposals in on time.
Of course these opinions are just speculation, so that is why I spoke with City Councillor Andre Rivette on the phone and asked him if he thought the budget cuts to The Art Gallery were a punitive measure or if there was another reason behind the cuts. Andre Rivette explains, “For two or three years the paper work hasn’t been sent in on time. They are lucky to get anything. We need a gallery, but we don’t need someone who can’t supply the proper documentation. It sends the wrong message to others who are seeking grants and need to do the same.”
Carilyne Hébert is the newly elected Chair of The Art Gallery Board, a board which faces some daunting challenges in the upcoming months. Carilyne Hébert answers three questions for the Seeker. This interview was conducted by Jason Setnyk.
1. What is your reaction to the 21% budget cut for The Art Gallery?
It is extremely unfortunately that The Art Gallery’s budget was so drastically cut. TAG is a crucial part of our community’s Culture and Art scene. The budget cut is going to significantly affect the day to day operations of The Art Gallery. This will be the first order of Business of the Board of Directors. We must be optimistic and find new potential funding opportunities that can assist us in this time of need.
2. Why do you think The Art Gallery had their funding reduced, while some other Arts and Culture oriented institutions did not? Was this punitive or was there some other clear reason given for these specific cuts?
Our budget may have been cut for a number of reasons but we do believe it was disciplinary. There will be hard times ahead for our Board of Director, our Executive Director and The Art Gallery. However, we cannot waste time reflecting on the negative. We must look forward, make changes and gain a status of importance to our Municipal Council. We are hopeful that our funding will return to its original amount in 2014.
3. What does a 21% budget cut mean to the Gallery? Will services be reduced? Are there other possible sources of funding? Can the Gallery survive this large of a cut?
We’ve recently elected a fantastic new Board of Directors. We will have to roll up our sleeves, get to work and put ourselves in fundraising mode. However, it will be extremely difficult to maintain the same level of service with such a blow to our budget. We may have to modify our programs to keep afloat. We will do everything in our power to avoid cutting major services but there is no guarantee. The Gallery will survive but there will be no room to thrive. It means we will have to tighten up our purse strings, be cautious with our spending and be creative with new funding.