Posted: Nov 18, 2011, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Windsor, On.
So they're relocating the downtown library to the art gallery, effectively cutting the art gallery's usable space by between 1/3 - 1/2 and the library by 1/2. So basically consolidation and downsizing.
I can understand the concept of having these institutions nearby as a library and gallery to me do have synergies, but it is also evident that the city is trying to save some costs here, which makes me wonder how we're doing financially and we're building a very expensive aquatic centre.
The art gallery building is a magnificent building but always has been underutilized as the amount of visitors at the gallery has been low ever since it has opened it's new building. Hopefully they can make this work and do it tastefully, I want to still feel proud of all of this even though it's being hacked and stitched together.
WINDSOR, Ont. -- In a move designed to establish a “cultural hub” in the downtown core, the Windsor Public Library is moving in with the Art Gallery of Windsor, whose multimillion-dollar home overlooking the waterfront will become the property of the city.
“We’re excited — the idea is to create a community meeting place,” said AGW director Catharine Mastin.
“It’s exciting ... it’s the right place for the library,” added library CEO Barry Holmes.
The plan was approved in principle by city council in a unanimous vote Thursday during a closed door meeting.
Coun. Al Maghnieh, the chairman of the library board, said the library and the art gallery also approved the plan in principle Thursday.
The closing date is Dec. 31.
Mayor Eddie Francis said the move will create a “cultural hub” in the downtown.
“Once people experience it, they’ll recognize what they’ve been missing,” he said.
A formal announcement will be made at a news conference at the art gallery today.
Ownership of the library’s central branch building on Ouellette Avenue also transfers to the city. Sources have said it is being eyed by Sutherland Global, which is searching for a new home for up to 1,000 Windsor employees.
It’s a win-win-win for all involved, said Francis. “We’re able to reduce costs and, more importantly, we’re talking about Windsor finally moving on a cultural hub,” he said.
The AGW loses its annual $450,000 grant from city taxpayers, but should find itself on a firmer financial footing.
“It’s widely known the art gallery has had financial challenges,” said Mastin. Asked about becoming a tenant of the city in a building the gallery’s autonomous board currently owns, she said “pride of ownership” isn’t as important as being able to focus on what can be offered to the public.
According to Francis, it costs about $600,000 to operate and maintain the art gallery building, a cost the city now assumes. But cancelling the $450,000 gallery grant, as well as saving on the $300,000 that goes into the annual facilities costs at the library’s central branch, will mean a net overall savings to taxpayers,
In taking over a building purpose-built for an art gallery, and which Francis estimates has a value of about $22 million, the city is also assuming the organization’s debt, which he pegs at $2.5 million.
Mastin said details still have to be worked out over sharing the current space, but she doesn’t see that as a major issue. The gallery has 74,000 square feet of area, and Maghnieh said the new library space will be on the main floor and take up between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet.
The central branch currently uses about 60,000 of the 100,000 square feet available at its Ouellette location.
“It’s what you’re doing in the building that is key, not the footprint,” said Holmes. Maghnieh said the library’s move will be done in phases, with hopes of having a presence in the art gallery by next spring.
Mastin said the art gallery sees up to 80,000 visitors a year — a fraction of the 880,000 annual visits to the library’s central branch.
The art gallery has waited a long time for more tenants in the city’s so-called western super anchor.
“It’s been a bit challenging for us, alone ... two blocks too far away,” said Mastin.
The library-art gallery will be next door to the proposed aquatic centre, which is set to open in 2013.
It will become “a destination place” for school groups, said Holmes, adding the new downtown library “gives us the opportunity to be innovative and creative.”
Students or families will be able to come downtown and “spend the whole day with us,” said Mastin. “It’s a synergy that makes sense.”
The gallery and library could save more money by sharing other resources, Francis said.
The move will also save the city another $8 million to $10 million, the projected cost of the original plan to build a new library next to the new aquatic centre, the mayor added.
Coun. Drew Dilkens, who chairs the committee overseeing the aquatic centre, said the deal “provides certainty” for the four parties vying to build the complex, which has a $67-million global budget.
“The gallery — it’s a whole new life for them,” he said. “This ensures the long-term sustainability of the gallery and the library,” said Francis.
The city wanted to stop the practice of the art gallery coming to council every year asking for money to avert a crisis, he said. He said the organization will retain “complete autonomy,” including its board and director.
The plan is expected to bring more pedestrians downtown, which is crucial for commercial development, Francis said, adding it also “bodes well” for future cultural developments.
The consultant studying the feasibility of a new museum is expected to recommend in January where the main museum and several satellites should be located.
And the move heralds a new, positive relationship between the city and the arts, Francis said. He acknowledged an often antagonistic relationship of the past.
Tense is an understatement,” he said. But, he added, “nobody can accuse us of being anti-cultural now.”
Francis credits new players on the scene like Mastin and Holmes and an economic crisis that has forced everyone to do things differently.
“The new leadership understands the new realities,” he said.
Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Main...#ixzz1e3ehEtWJ