Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Mendel Chair Art Knight should have his name on a ballot in an election. He's a natural. His response to the Mayor's question on who approached whom "The gallery came to the realization that this wasn't going to work at the current location." was the ultimate finesse in political debate. When you have two councillors sitting on your board, a council that has been reluctant from day one to finance an expansion and publicly saying it wants a public arts centre on River Landing, it is only surprising that it took so long to come to the realization.

Initially I had heard that the federal/provincial governments were going to fund the whole thing and the concern would be operating costs. At the time of the federal/provincial announcement it stated each senior level was going to put in $13 million, less than half of the original $55 million. At that time the Mayor said the balance would be fund raised - he forgot to mention the fundraising would be the mil rate. After committing $13 million for a new building, I was surprised the province left another $4 million on the table - that being the money for an expansion that was not to be.

In the end, the city is putting in about $20 million bucks. To date, there is no private development to support the public component. We have six councillors that have committed to no mil rate increase beyond rate of inflation. Where is that money tree?

On the horizon is the MVA, which is totally funded by the city and province for operating costs, salivating at the thought of moving into the old Mendel site - and it will be looking for capital funding to renovate the existing building and increased operating costs.

And to come full circle, Mr. Knight may know the names of his chess pieces, but he obviously does not know how the game is played. Checkmate!


  1. This is the most disgraceful act imaginable.

    Be damned if I will donate a penny to this new gallery.

  2. Kudos to Pat Lorje for being the only councillor to vote against this ridiculous idea. I also will not spend a penny of my money to support this gallery.

    I will also be sure to remember this next election when I punt my councillor from office. Just stupidity

  3. Professional public art galleries, such as the Mendel Art Gallery, should be aware of professional ethics. They should be committed to promoting a harmonious relationship with the community they serve, to creating a favourable environment for community support and healthy donor relationships, not for creating traumatic conflict and divisiveness within the community. An art gallery's board should not be involved in any activities that are damaging, or perceived to be damaging, to the institution it serves.

    Why then is the Mendel board involved in establishing "The Art Gallery of Saskatchewan" and in the development of "River Landing"? One of the important qualifications for service on the Mendel board, and I would argue that it is the most important qualification, is "a willingness to promote and to represent the interests of the Mendel first and foremost."
    There is something terribly wrong and dysfunctional with an organization when it runs counter to its core mission and values. Losing the trust and respect of the people who are its most dedicated supporters, such as the Mendel/Mitchell families, through a blatant act of betrayal, is seriously damaging to the good reputation of the Mendel Art Gallery, as well as to the cultural landscape and culture of gift-giving in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan.


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