VIDEO: Supporters turn out to honour art gallery curator

LETTER: 40 people turned out to thank Barbara Duncan for her contribution to the arts in Maple Ridge

Dear Editor,

The community is celebrating Barbara Duncan, curator of the ACT Art Gallery.

Many of you may not know that the art gallery and the gallery store at The ACT were closed and its curator Barbara Duncan and her assistant Susan Thompson were fired by the arts council in late April, a mere five weeks into the lockdown of the COVID19 pandemic.

The gallery as we have always known it, is now referred to as the gallery space.

The arts council has never publicly admitted that they fired the curator.

In May, two high profile articles in The News featured the financial disaster the ACT was experiencing, but there was no mention of closing the gallery and firing Barbara Duncan.

The subsequent press releases from the arts council are cloaked around the pandemic creating a financial disaster.

RELATED LETTER: Board defends tough decisions ahead for arts centre

This decision has been kept from the public.

Consistent reference to the incident as a personnel matter that couldn’t be discussed, raised questions regarding Barbara’s competence or whether she was charged with something unlawful and this speculation has resulted in harming her reputation.

In a letter I received from the executive director, Curtis Pendleton, she stated that, “Barbara has done exemplary work in our community in her position as curator and she will be missed.”

Why would an employee who has done exemplary work be suddenly fired?

The arts council is effectively standing by and watching the fallout after they lit the bomb!

A 1,250 strong petition has been presented to the arts council and city council requesting a reinstatement of Barbara Duncan. An impressive result considering that not many people knew about it and was collected within a two-week period during a pandemic.

If the arts council had appealed to the public for support to keep the gallery and retain their their employees, I am certain the community would have responded generously.

They showed no confidence that the community would choose to save the gallery. However, taking this unilateral step ensured that the community would have no input nor be given the opportunity to keep this valuable cultural asset alive.

Instead of cutting two jobs, everyone could have agreed to take a pay cut or cut back on work days. But perhaps there always was a different plan before the pandemic and a perfect opportunity presented itself.

I felt proud to have such a professional be in charge of the many facets that a high quality gallery demands and I am requesting a thorough review by a third-party investigator to see if all the proper procedures were followed, if all other avenues to save the gallery were explored and whether the two employees were compensated for their sudden dismissal and given due process financially.

It is a publicly funded organization and this decision has made the public lose trust in this arts council. They have forgotten that they are accountable to the public. I feel the arts council owes Barbara and the community an honest explanation, and perhaps we can start there.

RELATED LETTER: What’s happening to key staff at The ACT?

On the sunny June 19, 40 supporters of the art community organized a surprise car and heart parade to honour Barbara Duncan. It should be noted that so many others wanted to attend, but we respected the provincial guidelines regarding large gatherings.

Barbara was our curator for 10 years and in that time, she built an exciting, well respected gallery, which was known for its support of local artists, professional artists and artisans, as well as featuring both contemporary and unique exhibitions.

She was the face of gallery, always respectful, innovative, and open to ideas.

The community did not want Barbara to disappear without a heartfelt appreciation within the park grounds outside of the ACT.

It was not a rally nor a demonstration, but a public celebration in recognition of Barbara’s support of our community and showcasing artists in their best light.

The arts community and its supporters wanted to honour and thank Barbara by giving her a warm, genuine, and joyful send off to remember the community of Maple Ridge by, because June 19 would otherwise be only remembered as a very sad day for Maple Ridge.

Betty von Hardenberg, Maple Ridge

.

________________________________

• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Arts and cultureLetter to the Editormaple ridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The coronavirus has closed a Pitt Meadows pub. (Black Press files)
Pitt Meadows pub closed due to COVID-19

Staff member at Jolly Coachman tested positive for virus

Thousands of people have either voted early or requested mail-in ballots in Maple Ridge provincial ridings. (Black Press Media File)
Thousands vote early or by mail in Maple Ridge area

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Mission voters are already voting

Adrian Dix with NDP candidates Bob D-Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission) and Lisa Beare (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) at the Urgent and Primary Care Centre at Haney Place Mall. (Special to The News)
Dix visits Maple Ridge’s new Urgent and Primary Care Centre

There still aren’t enough doctors to staff facility – Meadus

Michelle Shipley shared these pictures taken of Pitt Lake this fall. “Such a beautiful area,” she said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Late fall reflected in the waters of Pitt Lake

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Police boats were called in to search the Fraser River after a report that a plane had crashed where the river runs between Langley and Maple Ridge. (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Investigation enters final phase, missing aircraft last seen over Fraser River in Maple Ridge

Small aircraft was carrying a student and instructor on June 6

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Most Read