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Vancouver Art Gallery mounts fundraising campaign, 'faces its most challenging time in its history'

Attendance during usual peak season down to just 20% of last year's figures
The Vancouver Art Gallery has launched a fundraising campaign to help sustain the venue in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Photo: Vancouver Art Gallery/Facebook

There are no busloads of school kids pouring into the storied rooms of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Festivals on the plaza, galas and holiday parties, and group tours are all off the table. Tourists are not exploring Vancouver. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is hitting the city's nearly century-old bastion of fine arts right where it hurts: the bottom line.

Monday, the Vancouver Art Gallery announced a new fundraising initiative aimed at helping it "persevere" past the pandemic.

In mid-March, the Vancouver Art Gallery closed its doors alongside landmark venues like Science World and the Vancouver Aquarium, in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. and public health orders prohibiting gatherings. 

The Gallery was able to re-open in early June with a number of new safety measures in place, including reduced capacity in the galleries and at the on-site restaurant, 1931 Gallery Bistro.

Ultimately, though, the venue ended up only welcoming 20 per cent of the usual number of visitors compared to the same period in the previous year.

“The pandemic has been very challenging for everyone,” says Anthony Kiendl, CEO/Gallery Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, in a media release.

Offering solace and stress relief for artists, public

“First and foremost, we recognize that this is a public health crisis, and safety has to be our primary concern, including support for front-line workers. Contributing to the Gallery through this campaign means we in turn can continue to support local artists through programs, exhibitions and acquisitions. The arts and artists have suffered disproportionately throughout the pandemic, while at the same time offering hope and solace to the world," continues Kiendl. 

Kiendl adds that offering a space for people to visit where they can view art is a powerful tool in stress management and mental health.

"We are here to be part of the recovery and ultimately kick-starting the economy, and continued support of the Gallery at this time will in turn enable us to move forward in this way, creating stronger and more resilient communities.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery will continue to adhere to B.C. public health orders and strict safety protocols to welcome visitors, however, the institution is appealing to the public to donate to help sustain it beyond the immediate crisis. 

"Contributions will go towards supporting this community-based organization directly and ensure that children, students, families, seniors and all members of the general public across this city and province can continue to engage with inspiring art from here and around the world."

Other venues turn to public to raise money

Similarly, prior to announcing its indefinite closure and suspension of programming, the Vancouver Aquarium also launched a fundraising campaign. Science World also continues to appeal for donations, and has a new line of merchandise aimed at raising funds to keep the venue going.

Those interested in donating to support the Vancouver Art Gallery can do so HERE.