Campaign Newsletter - June 2014

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Lord Beaverbrook opened this Gallery in 1959 and dedicated it as a gift to all new Brunswickers. Fifty-five years later the gallery board is reaffirming the stewardship and trust of what, I believe, is the single-greatest-private-gift ever made to our province by an individual.

The last number of years we have been quietly organizing and building support to launch the largest capital drive since the gallery first opened.

Of course our collection is, in every respect, world class. I’m not embellishing when I say it is the envy of major museums in the US and Europe. I have been informed, on a number of occasions, by prominent people in the art world that “these paintings do not really belong in New Brunswick.” And I always get to say – with great pleasure – they do, in fact, belong here. Even with the improvements and refurbishment to date, our current facility cannot support the needs of our growing collection and programming. For instance, having a purpose-built space for the Gallery’s iconic Salvador Dalí painting, Santiago El Grande, will mean this great artwork will be displayed as it should be for its full impact to be enjoyed by all visitors.

Not just the building is in need of work. The Gallery’s endowment needs to grow so there are adequate resources to fund programming that ensures the people of New Brunswick can actually experience the collection. If we can’t get people in front of it, the true purpose of this fine collection is missed.

So far, commitments to the campaign have already meant expanded art education and outreach such as ActionArt, Face2Face, and in-school art programs are serving diverse cultural communities. We are bringing hundreds of New Brunswick students to the Gallery, and bolstering the confidence of creative, art-inspired children.

For many, these programs offer the first taste of the world of art. For the people of our province that might not have the opportunity to travel to the Tate Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum in New York, they have an opportunity to experience some of the world’s finest cultural treasures here at home, on the bank of the St. John river, as our founder intended. this gallery is fulfilling our promise to enrich life, for the people of our province, through art.

The building project plan is in four stages. I’m pleased to report that as of April, 2014 we have reached 64 percent of our $25 million goal for Phases 1 and 2; Phase 1 revitalization was completed in 2010, and Phase 2 expansion is planned to be underway later this year.

Campaigns often develop a life of their own and the Beaverbrook campaign has not been without its challenges. In 2004 the idea for a capital campaign to retrofit and expand the Gallery was put on hold because the Gallery and the Beaverbrook (UK) Foundation and the Canadian Beaverbrook Foundation became embroiled in a dispute over ownership of a number of works of art.

In 2008 the economy took a hit as did the Gallery’s endowment fund. Despite all these challenges, the Gallery secured $3.4 million from the federal government through ACOA and Heritage Canada, Province of New Brunswick, and private sources for the now completed Phase 1 revitalization.

In that year, the Province of New Brunswick made a commitment of $5 million to the project for a new Beaverbrook art Gallery endowment fund subject to matching contributions from the private sector.

Campaign support for Phase 2 expansion means increased capacity for exhibitions, art handling and storage of the Gallery’s extraordinary collection, art education, and increased opportunities for pre-eminent guest exhibitions.

Your contributions make the aspirations of the Gallery come to life. Your gift supports the development of the galleries and will enable the Gallery to develop technology to make it a place to engage people of all ages. With 36 per cent of the goal still to reach, if you haven’t joined us to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime, very special cultural legacy, please consider doing so now. To those who have already shown their support, your generosity is greatly appreciated.

James C. Irving


More news about the campaign:

On June 4, 2014, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery announced an exceptional contribution from the McCain family. Read more about it here.

June 2014