Bob Rennie Presents Proposal for New Vancouver Art Gallery System

Vancouver real estate marketer Bob Rennie and economic forecaster David Baxter have presented a detailed proposal ("the $150 Million Solution") for the future of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Rennie has been vocal about his opposition of the proposed move of the Vancouver Art Gallery from its present location at 750 Hornby Street to a newly constructed facility adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at the site called Larwill Park, questioning the fiscal responsibility of the move and the plans to hire an international architect.

In Rennie and Baxter’s 22-page proposal they oppose the development of the big-box style 300,000 square foot, $300 million building in the downtown core that has been proposed in favour of a multi-building approach. They suggest that, in order to best address the nature and needs of Vancouver communities, the Vancouver Art Gallery be transformed into a Vancouver Art Gallery System, a decentralization of exhibition spaces into several spaces "focused on community access to an iconic art collection." 

The document proposes a 15-year gallery system which would expand exhibition space from 40,000 square feet to 180,000. The Vancouver Art Gallery System would consist of seven venues plus the existing space at the Shangri-La Hotel. The current Vancouver Art Gallery space would be renovated to house a Gallery of Historical Canadian Art and Gallery of Conceptual Photography, space freed up by relocating storage to a new 108,000 square foot facility outside of the downtown core. In addition to storage, ArchiveArt would also house administration, restoration and preservation. A new downtown gallery with 50,000 square feet of exhibition space would be devoted to contemporary, travelling and borrowed shows. Four 12,000 square foot thematic community galleries (ArtPlaces) would be built over the next 15 years, which Rennie and Baxter propose would address the need to engage with different neighbourhoods of Vancouver. The plan includes $25 million for acquisitions.

The proposal also recommends that the Vancouver Art Gallery System be more reliant on the philanthropy of individuals and aim to attact private collectors and donors in an effort to be more sustainable. 

In February, 2011, city council gave the Vancouver Art Gallery two years to prove its case for a new stand-alone facility on city-owned land at Larwill Park, across from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The deadline to prove that their plan has community support and financial viability is February 1, 2013. 

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