Landmark gift includes over 100 works by Bill Reid

  • Sep. 26, 2011 8:00 p.m.

A $10 million dollar art collection has been donated to Simon Fraser University as part of a partnership arrangement between the university and the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver. Gallery executive director Mike Robinson calls the transfer of 158 artworks (including 112 by Reid) a landmark gift, one that will not only enable SFU to enrich its downtown Vancouver Campus, but enable the Bill Reid Gallery staff to put more focus on programming for the public than fundraising. Under the new management agreement, the Bill Reid Foundation and the Bill Reid Trust (the foundation owned the collection and the trust managed and presented it), have been hired to manage the collection and present public programming. Mr. Robinson said the SFU agreement will provide approximately one third of the operating revenue for the gallery, with admissions and gift shop revenue providing another third and support from philanthropists the last third. “The new relationship doesn’t mean there is no need for fundraising,” he said, but some of the pressure has been relieved. The gallery has never received operating grants from the government and staff have had to work hard to keep the doors open at some points. “We’ve been through some rough weather,” he said. “This is an important victory.” Mr. Robinson said he thinks other galleries may take an interest in this model, as it’s a creative response to current economic realities. He noted that the model is similar to Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, which he ran from 2000 to 2008. That institution was founded with the gift of Eric Harvie’s collection of art, artifacts and historical documents to the government of Alberta.