Friday, June 10, 2011

The gift that keeps on giving

I'm almost getting tired reading about the Mendel insanity. When the Remai gift was announced, didn't the Mayor and the Chair of the fund raising committee imply that the Remai donation would encourage others to step forward to complete the goal?

From the article in today's SP (June 10/11) it appears that less than $100,000.00 was spent to garner $30 million. Now the Mendel Board was $390,000.00 to hire a philanthropic service to raise the balance of $5 million. It would have been a smarter play for the Board to make this ask prior to announcing the Remai gift. At the very least it would have then appeared that this expenditure was worthwhile. If this company does not reach the $5 million goal, do we still pay the same fee?

However, I do understand why they need this service. Fundraising is a hard business. The competition for donor dollars is ruthless. The volunteer group will be able to raise small gifts in the under fifty thousand range, but large donors generally are secured by fund-raising services. These services have a massive Rolodex and contacts within corporations that could be potential donors.

As for the $175,000.00 to brand and market the gallery, the Mendel has a reputation as an international gallery. Do we lose that reputation by changing the name?

And finally, is this $565.00 expenditure incorporated into the $84 million or are these the add-ons we can expect as the project progresses?

When all is said and done, it is we, the taxpayers, that will be the giver that keeps on giving.


  1. I'm curious what the annual operating costs will come in at...that report should be coming by the end of the month, so we are told.

    Any bets? 3X? 4X higher then the current multi-million dollar operating cost of the Mendel?

  2. Both camps of the art galleries are going to hold on to their selfish positions and hold the tax payers hostage for as much money as they can gouge from them.

    The Mendel group is slowly beginning to expose themselves as very self centered and only looking out for their self interests. I used to support them in this power struggle, but it is becoming apparent that neither side warrants any support.

    This process should be about bringing the best of the arts to Saskatchewan for everyone to see, instead it has become a power struggle to see who is authority on Saskatoon Arts.

    Sad indeed.

  3. Agreed, anon@10:04.

    None of this would have happened had dear ol' Atch not conspired in the dark of night to tear Saskatoon's arts community in two.

    To be clear, the new gallery is not about art, though, it's about real estate. To think otherwise is naive.

  4. I heard the Mayor on Newstalk650 indicating that the $30 million from the Remai Foundation came with no strings attached. Now I read that they are renaming the Gallery?? Sound fishy to me. Again nothing Atch has said over the last while has any basis of honesty. I use to support him and his council however it looks like I will be voting for someone new next time around.

    It's not a gift if you gt something in return it's a bribe.

  5. Quit carping! Ellen Remai has stepped up and freely given a lot of money to both Persephone and the AGS now Remai AGS. She and Frank have contributed to the City in many ways over the years and most of their good deeds have been without any fanfare at all, as Ellen says they have benefitted greatly from living and investing in Saskatoon and can afford to give back to the community. Frank unfortunetly passed away but Ellen continues to work to make our city a better place to live. We all want the "rich" to contribute, but why would they the way they are treated. We are talking about 30 million here folks if it doesn't sit well with you that for that amount of cash it will carry their name suck it up or prepare to make up the difference in taxes! Have little respect for the this kind, gracious and generous lady. Disagree with the process fine but don't take it out on the family that stepped up.

  6. I agree with the last posting insofar as the generosity of the Remai Family and especially Ellen Femai.

  7. "We all want the "rich" to contribute, but why would they the way they are treated."

    This would also apply to the Mendel family and what Atch did to their legacy.

  8. "This would also apply to the Mendel family and what Atch did to their legacy."

    What did the Mendel family contribute, a few paintings?

    Not sure that donating a few paintings entitled your heirs to be the authority on art in the province for the next 200 years

  9. "What did the Mendel family contribute, a few paintings?"

    Oh, just a collection of Group of Seven paintings and half the construction costs of the Mendel. This was after being a lifetime patron of the arts in Saskatoon.

    Yeah, it was nothing at all.

  10. Easy there, was simply inquiring.

    So since Mendel contributed to cost of building and some paintings. Is it not fair equally reward the Remai family for their contribution?

    I have always been a supporter of the Mendel, but this we must respect the legacy of Mendel above everything else mentality is becoming quite onerous.

  11. The core of the argument is that it should have never come to this.

    It's worth repeating: The new art gallery is NOT about art. It's about real estate. To think otherwise shows a woeful misunderstanding of what has transpired.

    The Mendel reno was pegged at a total $24 million last year - it wasn't given an updated figure in this year's capital budget. This reno - approved by the original architects and Mendel family - was projected to meet Saskatoon's needs for the next 50 years.

    But dear ol' Atch needed to prop up his to-big-to-fail River Landing scheme. All the private tenants he prophesized would come rushing to the riverbank simply never showed. River Landing is a financial black hole.

    It's worthwhile to note that Nasser's "salvation" of the condo development is still just a parking lot, waiting for the market to correct. Judging from condo sales at the King George (none) we could be waiting a long time.

    Now Saskatoon taxpayers are on the hook for $34 million directly, and another $35 million in public money is needed from other levels of government to try and coax the private sector in.

    To the point of it being the "legacy of the Mendel above everything else." It's not. It's about Atch blowing through $84 million dollars for an art gallery nobody asked for. The shameful treatment of Fred Mendel's legacy is just another casualty.

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