LETTER: Board defends tough decisions ahead for arts centre

Lack of income puts The ACT in peril – changes are mandatory to survive, says president

Dear Editor,

We are writing in response to a letter about the ACT Arts Centre sent by Raeanne Schachte [RE: What’s happening to key staff at The ACT?, May 30, The News online].

As readers will know, the doors of the ACT have been closed since March 16 because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

From that time forward, our board of directors has had to come to grips with a very serious situation, because all income immediately ceased and future income is greatly imperiled.

We have been fortunate to receive grants and donations, and we have taken advantage of every government relief program for which the organization is eligible.

However, there are ongoing expenses, which sustain both the building and the activities, we hope to be able to resume.

We would also note that the government relief programs are temporary and as a board with a public responsibility, it is our duty to plan for the long-term health of the organization.

It was evident from the start that restructuring would be necessary if the organization was to not only survive the difficult months during which all events were cancelled, but into the future.

RELATED: The ACT shuts its doors

As well, this is a time of great uncertainty.

Even when we are able to reopen, audiences and numbers of patrons will necessarily be smaller, cleaning and other costs to comply with the health authorities’ guidelines will be higher, and other challenges will inevitably arise.

Every arts organization in Canada is suffering immensely for the same reasons.

This is a sector that will be one of the very last to fully open, as the venues are indoors and large gatherings are needed to make performances and events possible.

The ACT Art Gallery exists within, and is supported by the entire infrastructure of the facility and its operations.

With the effects of the pandemic, that supporting infrastructure has been severely and seriously challenged.

In anticipation of re-opening the gallery spaces when we are able to do so, we will be exploring new operational models that envision continued community and artist access, as well as provide on-going opportunities to experience artistic excellence, in a organizationally sustainable way.

Our mission is to provide for all arts at the heart of our community.

Our board and staff are working tirelessly to devise ways to do this in a dramatically changed landscape.

Presently, there are online art classes and summer arts camps that will be held for small numbers of children.

RELATED: Live theatre performances to restart in October at ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge

Everything must be done in compliance with public health measures, which have been keeping our citizens as safe as they can be. However, it will not be possible to fully open the building until greater easing of restrictions occurs, and a full season of activity is unlikely until 2021.

We will seek input from our patrons and stakeholders in a number of ways as we move through this, and have assured them we will keep them informed as plans and the situation develops.

Our volunteer board of directors has asked our artistic and executive director to do some very challenging work in carrying out our difficult decisions. These decisions have been made in order to ensure the survival of the ACT and the arts council.

We fully support Ms. [Curtis] Pendleton’s work, which is being carried out with much deliberation, with great care, and in full consultation with the board.

Laura Butler,

President, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Arts Council



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