Updated financial information still leaves advisors with questions and confusion
Months after a dramatic grant cut sparked public outcry, Penticton city council and the Penticton Art Gallery are still at odds over funding.
The Art Gallery appeared before Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, August 1 to present its audited year-end financial report for 2022.
Despite the updated financial information, the art gallery and council seemed unable to understand each other’s points of view.
Art gallery board members and curator Paul Crawford reiterated their call for a return to the days when the gallery was a city budget item, not subject to the subsidy system or recipient of subsidies .
The City Council has repeatedly reiterated that the city has a limited pool of funds that it distributes to everyone for grants and that it routinely rejects applications or only approves applications that are less than what is requested by community organizations.
Crawford himself repeatedly referred to the city funding as operational funding and directly stated that it was not considered a grant, which he said was intended for projects.
Another point of contention for councilors Amelia Boultbee and Isaac Gilbert was the gallery’s general account, which stood at just under $200,000 at the end of December 2022.
“You know, my position as a city councilman is that no organization that comes before the city council should be dependent on the grant process,” Boultbee said. “You know, you said today that you rely on the city’s grant process and I would just like to say that my personal position is that taxpayer dollars are inherently limited.”
The art gallery responded by stating that it would have had to lay off staff and that the planned summer exhibition was canceled due to the initial reduction in funding, as it alone would have cost $30,000 and the gallery did not did not know if they could persuade the city to provide the full funding requested.
The gallery also said the account figures were misleading because although they were labeled unrestricted, many grants and project-specific funds were mixed in with the unrestricted funds and therefore could not be used freely for things like that compensate the city’s initial amount. reduction of grants from $125,000 to $55,000.
In response to comments that the gallery should not have budgeted for the grant before receiving it, Crawford pointed out that the gallery has received funds over the past decade, receiving $88,000 in 2013, which has increased regularly to reach amounts of $125,000 in 2018-2023. , and had no desire to believe that would change.
The presentation and questions concluded with the gallery treasurer’s offer to meet with all board members to ask further questions about the gallery’s finances.
Advice. James Miller made his unanimously supported motion that the art gallery and other similar agencies working on city lands be considered for return to a line item and requested an update of this application.
Staff informed the board that they have begun reaching out to some high-profile events and groups to test a two-year funding model. There was no comment on whether that funding would still come from the city’s grant pool for those years.
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