Tensions were running high in the weeks leading up to the Annual General Meeting of the Capitol Centre with the Capitol Centre Board of Directors seeking an amicable resolution to issues with the advocacy group Kennedy Gallery Friends.
Those tensions did not lesson any leading into the meeting as the Kennedy Gallery Friends used a point of order called ‘Private Eyes’ clause which barred media from physically being present in the meeting.
A move that in the history of the Centre, that is until Wednesday night, has been acted upon.
For the sake of not delaying the AGM for another month the media yielded and vacated the room, but thanks to the excellent sound system in the theatre and closed circuit TV were able to see and hear the meeting.
At issue for the Kennedy Gallery Friends was the motion they put forth ‘A New Governance Plan for the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery,’ or as the Friends called it ‘A Plan for a Plan’.
The group was established following last year’s AGM when the Director/Curator Position was eliminated.
The motion would see a new working group set up and they would oversee the day to day operations of the gallery including finances and at the same time have little to no accountability to the Capitol Centre Board of Directors.
Or that is how it was spelled out in a document BayToday received from an anonymous source a day prior to the meeting, but the document that was handed out to the membership minutes before the meeting did have changes.
BayToday, not being a member of the Capitol Centre, was not provided the new drafted motion and with the other members of the media was asked to leave by the Friends.
A Workable Solution: A Trustees' Committee with Standing Powers:
25 September 2013
(Revised: 23 March 2014)
After considerable investigation, Kennedy Gallery Friends is offering the following as a framework for further discussion in search of a reasonable solution for ensuring the viability and sustainability of the WKP Kennedy Public Art Gallery.
It clearly establishes what we believe is the necessary level of gallery autonomy with the Board retaining oversight responsibility.
• standing authority to act for "The Capitol Centre" on gallery-related matters without specific instructions from the Board
• all gallery business automatically referred to committee
• committee has budgetary authority
• segregated banking facility
• stewardship of the Kennedy Gallery permanent collection
• trusteeship of endowments designated for gallery operations
• Kennedy Gallery members appoint trustees; CC president, and/or Treasurer ex-officio
• fiscal responsibility will follow from fiscal clarity in reporting
• controls in the bylaws governing operating deficit and other exigencies
• trustees' duties include meeting fundraising objectives
• operations conform to OAC eligibility requirements
• equitable apportionment of overhead expenses in budget
• potential for substantially increased revenue from all sources
• restores public art gallery status with the potential for providing the primary impetus for advancing the City's Cultural Plan
We heard from head of the Gallery Friends group Bill Kennedy this morning clarifying their position, “The Capitol Centre Board of Directors would continue to have governing authority over the WKP Kennedy Gallery Trustees' Committee which we were hoping to eventually establish in the Corporation's bylaw. It is a requirement of the Ontario Corporations Act.”
“Our objective was for the proposed Trustees' Committee to have control over the day-to-day management of gallery affairs. So, in that sense, it would be a new governance arrangement, but the Board, being the superior body, would remain the final authority.”
The group was also seeking the restoration of the Director/Curator Position
• essential to the future success of the W.K.P. Kennedy Public Art Gallery and preserving its excellent reputation in and beyond North Bay
• our largest single investment should also prove to be our best investment
• must be eminently and equally qualified in professional experience and education
• curatorial responsibilities could be expanded to include management of the City's own sizeable and important permanent art collection
• potential for assuming a central role in advancing the City's Cultural Plan by forming other strategic partnerships; ensures maximum utilization of the gallery, its assets and resources
• hiring committee must be carefully selected and knowledgeable in all aspects of the position's current and prospective requirements
The altered motion was put forth to the membership and the floor was open for comment and discussion.
There were a number of impassioned comments made from the floor both in favour of the motion and against the motion
“The future of the WKP Kennedy Gallery has always been a very important matter to me,” states Sylvie Antinozzi Interim Gallery Chair.
She noted that round table discussions on the future course of the gallery were held with Jack Jones mediating with all interested parties invited to participate.
She also pointed out, despite rumours of the contrary, The Ontario Arts Council was pleased with the progress the gallery had made over the past year and immediately released a grant funding to the gallery.
“We have made giant strides in a few months.”
Kennedy speaking in favour of the motion said 180 members (representing 45% of the entire membership) support their vision, though member Marjorie Moonfire Meister later noted that she is a KGF but never asked to have her interests represented or have them advocate on her behalf.
Because of the KGF, there’s been a spike in membership, generating $8000 in revenue, and membership is consequently at an all-time high, “We would like to see and hear from the members.”
Past president Dave Barker, spoke against the motion because he didn’t believe that people had been given the full information.
“A lot of information…is been only half there,” he said noting that the deficit over 18 years was more than $300,000 and the Capitol Centre paid this in full every year
“There was never any expectation that it would be paid back.”
He is glad to see the formation of the KGF. The “document giving rationale” is concerning.
Member Glean spoke against the motion using the analogy that it’s like as an adult forced out of his home while his 15-year-old son was allowed to stay doing whatever he wants inviting whomever he wants over, then the father being forced to pay the bills and repair whatever the son and friends had broken.
Artist Allan Hirsch spoke in favour of the motion but acknowledged it is “imperfect”.
“We need to change and we need to move ahead.”
After the membership discussed the issue at length the motion was put to a vote.
Votes in favour of the motion – 155
Votes against the motion - 318
The motion is defeated.
As members exited the building chatting with each other there was a real sense that the issue had not been laid to rest.