Sep 30, 2010

VAG Board quashes motions on transparency

VANCOUVER—The Vancouver Art Gallery Board quashed two motions put forward at the Art Gallery’s Annual General Meeting last night by CUPE 15 members who belong to the Gallery. Paul Faoro, president of CUPE 15 and a member of the Art Gallery had submitted the two motions calling for transparency to the Board in mid-August. The motions call upon the Vancouver Art Gallery to proactively disclose annually on their website the total remuneration of each employee earning more than $75,000 a year; all payments to suppliers of goods and services; and commencing January 1, 2010 all expenses and costs for all advocacy related to secure the Larwill Park site for a new Vancouver Art Gallery.

“These motions are about good governance,” says CUPE 15 president Paul Faoro. “Every Municipality, Crown Corporation and School Board in the province complies with B.C.’s Financial Information Act each year, but the VAG has refused to release this type of information.” Faoro noted that the Royal BC Museum in Victoria fully complies with the Act.

Sally Bankiner, CUPE 15 second vice-president moved both motions. “If the Board had allowed open, public discussion on these motions, they would have helped the Gallery realize their stated values and goals of transparency and accountability,” Bankiner noted. “Instead they shut down the possibility of any public discussion. What do they have to hide?”

Bankiner criticized the Board for not forwarding the motions to Art Gallery members. “They had plenty of opportunity to do so. I am deeply concerned at the contempt shown at the meeting.”

Many CUPE members attended the AGM in the hopes that they would be able to discuss the issue.

“We appreciate how hard the Board works to secure funding for the Gallery,” says CUPE 15 chief steward Matthew Quiring. “All we are asking for is transparency.”

In response to each of the motions, Board chair David Aisenstat read a prepared statement saying that the motion relates to “special business”, that it had not been provided to members prior to the meeting as required by the bylaws, and that the Board had not reviewed the motion.

The Vancouver Art Gallery collection is held in public trust by the City of Vancouver. Faoro says that the Gallery should not suppress openness and transparency. “We’ll see what our next steps will be. I think the public deserves answers.”

Read the full motions.

COPE 491