Union Gallery stages AGM protest

Students gather outside AMS Annual General Meeting to protest the loss of the gallery’s student fee

Students and Kingston residents protest the loss of the Union Gallery fee.
Students and Kingston residents protest the loss of the Union Gallery fee.
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The Union Gallery staged a protest at the AMS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday to raise awareness about the loss of their student fee.

The protest began at the Gallery in Stauffer Library, and supporters marched to the AGM at Humphrey Hall holding signs and examples of student artwork.

For 18 years, from 1994 to 2012, the Gallery received a three-year mandatory fee of $3.71. The fee was lost in the November 2012 referendum by a margin of 28 votes.

The fee loss came into effect in the 2013-14 school year. The Gallery was forced to cut its hours from five days a week to three after losing the fee.

At AMS Assembly on Feb. 13, the Union Gallery asked for, but did not receive, a three-year mandatory fee of $3.75.

The presenters at the AMS Assembly, Camilo Montoya-Guevara and Lindsey Wilson, said that the Gallery would have to cut its hours further — to one and a half days — if it didn’t receive a fee.

Members of the operating board looked for ways to appeal Assembly’s decision, but found none.

Montoya-Guevara, ArtSci ’14, said the protest was a last resort.

“It’s been an option for a while but it was something that we didn’t want to have to come to … it was sort of the last recourse that we had,” he said.

Montoya-Guevara is the Gallery’s development chair, and had been preparing for February’s Assembly presentation for a month beforehand.

Wilson, ArtSci ’15, was also present at the protest, where she held a screenprint she had created.

“Hopefully people can see that it’s such an important organization for students on campus, for everyone,” Wilson said.

“I think art is such an important part of the cultural landscape here at Queen’s.”

Wilson is the vice-president of the operating board.

“It’s been an incredible experience for me, working with the Gallery,” she said.

“Seeing what goes into deciding what shows happen, looking at resumes, that kind of thing, and portfolios — it’s been an amazing experience in terms of professional development for me, and in terms of my artwork as well.”

Jocelyn Purdie, the Gallery’s director, organized the protest via social media and word of mouth.

Purdie said the protest isn’t the end of Union Gallery’s fight.

“We’ve already started a letter writing campaign to get our alumni … and other supporters and donors to write to the Principal and the various deans … to say … help needs to be forthcoming,” she said.

“We’re also trying to convince the AMS to actually go to bat for us too.”

In the letter Purdie wrote, posted on the Union Gallery’s website, she urged supporters to write to administration and student government figures such as Principal Daniel Woolf, ASUS President Scott Mason, AMS President Eril Berkok and Faculty of Arts and Science Dean Susan Mumm.

Purdie said in the letter that the Gallery’s new objective is to “to secure bridge funding for the next two years to develop a strategic direction for the gallery that will help it to become more sustainable into the future.”

“We believe in ensuring that organizations such as the Union Gallery remain vital in the cultural landscape of the University and indeed in the broader context of society, ” she said.

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