A Tale of Two Art Galleries: By Jean Swanson
One costs $20 to get in. The other is free. One is backed by the rich. The other is revered by low-income Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents. One got $50 million from the province, $23 million from donors, and about $200 worth of land and foregone taxes from the city. The other got its funding cut by Vancouver Coastal Health.
The first one is the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) which recently revealed to the public what a new Art Gallery would look like, a fancy building in Downtown Vancouver with wood on the outside. VAG supporters are trying to raise about half a billion dollars for their Art Palace.
The other is the Gallery Gachet, an old storefront in the DTES with a removable ramp from the sidewalk to the entrance so people with disabilities can get in. For 23 years Gallery Gachet has been a collectively run society with peer-based programming and participation. It includes studio and exhibition space and hosts exhibitions related to mental health and education, in addition to workshops, talks, and other projects with the DTES neighbourhood. “Our space provides essential skills development, peer support, referrals, community engagement and a healthy, non-hierarchal environment that provides both alternative and preventative mental health care,” says the Gallery Gachet website. Downtown Eastsiders feel welcome there to see what their neighbours have created and to contribute to the art of the community.
The Gallery Gachet is determined to find the funds to continue its work. To see how you can help, check out this website: http://gachet.org/2015/09/15/how-to-support-gallery-gachet/.