Tough future for Union Gallery

After a year of extensive cutbacks, the campus gallery lost out again

Union Gallery, which is located in Stauffer Library, is facing having to reduce it's hours to 1.5 a week.
Union Gallery, which is located in Stauffer Library, is facing having to reduce it's hours to 1.5 a week.

The Union Gallery unsuccessfully sought a mandatory fee on Feb. 13 at AMS Assembly, throwing the student-run gallery into further financial uncertainty.

The gallery opened in 1994 and operated for 18 years with a mandatory fee. In November 2012, the gallery lost its three-year mandatory fee of $3.71 by a margin of 28 votes in a referendum. The loss of the fee came into effect in the 2013-14 school year.

In their presentation to AMS Assembly, the Union Gallery asked for a three-year mandatory fee of $3.75, a four cent increase.

The presenters stated that the student fee had provided half of the gallery’s funding, and that without the fee, Union Gallery wouldn’t be able to operate as a professional gallery or make contact with professional artists.

The gallery dropped its hours from five days a week to three after losing the fee.

The presenters said that without a fee, the gallery would only be able to open one and a half days per week. They would no longer be able to provide internship or volunteer opportunities.

At Assembly, Tyler Lively, the proxy for an ASUS representative, suggested that the motion be amended so that the fee would be a one-year fee, and then be voted on in the next winter referendum. The motion to amend carried, but the gallery still lost the final vote.

Camilo Montoya-Guevara, the gallery’s development chair, was one of the presenters on behalf of the gallery.

Montoya-Guevara, ArtSci ’14, first became involved with the Union Gallery in second year after coming across the gallery’s table at the ASUS Sidewalk Sale.

He said that Union Gallery likely lost at last year’s referendum due to the lack of student awareness about the space.

[It also] had to do mainly with the lack of support … that a lot of the AMS representatives feel for the arts, and the concern that the gallery … isn’t relevant to their constituents,” he said, “but at the same time, a lot of the on-campus groups that receive a mandatory fee wouldn’t necessarily be considered relevant to the whole student population.”

He cited the Ban Righ Centre as an example of a service receiving a mandatory fee that isn’t necessarily relevant to the campus as a whole.

“It’s still a positive and a very valued institution on campus, which I think can be paralleled just as well to the Union Gallery.”

Montoya-Guevara is also on the AMS Arts Council as part of his position.

“It’s in the mandate that a representative for the gallery will be included every year, so the gallery has a place within the AMS … so I think the fact that it’s been included shows that it is considered valuable by the students, the student body.”

The Union Gallery is now planning to approach the AMS Board of Directors to find out what recourses for appeal to the Assembly ruling are available.

If there are no opportunities for appeal, Montoya-Guevara said they will explore alternate ways to mobilize people in support of the gallery.

“Our services are open to everyone, and then we directly … boost and affect the reputation that Queen’s has as an institution that encourages the arts,” he said.

During Assembly, Mark Asfar, the proxy for an ASUS representative, argued against the gallery receiving a fee through Assembly.

“We have to take caution in creating votes in implementing mandatory fees outside of the referendum process,” Asfar, ArtSci ’14, said, adding that the slim margin of loss showed that the Union Gallery hadn’t done enough to engage students during the voting process.

Other members of Assembly agreed that the Union Gallery should have gone back to referendum, rather than try to get a fee through Assembly.

“If you aren’t willing to engage students, I don’t think you deserve the fee … it’s not the place of this body to give you the fee, turning its back on the results,” ASUS representative Kanivanan Chinniah, ArtSci ’15, said.


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