January 22, 2021
To the Members and the Community,
The pandemic that ripped through the world, Canada, Ontario and settled into our region in 2020 is something of a life-changing event for our community, for us as individuals, and for the Durham Art Gallery. Many public spaces and art galleries, including the Durham Art Gallery, have been required to temporarily close in response to new regulations in Canada and around the world. The safety of our treasured staff, visitors and community is our priority. We responded to the shifting regulatory framework through to 2021 with the focused efforts and talents of our staff. Uncertainty with respect to the pandemic and regulations about public spaces abounds to this day and it is accompanied by the unpleasantness of isolation for us as individuals. Sadly, in some ways, it seems Community has been lost in the pandemic.
The Gallery very aggressively pivoted to an online presence as a safe way to connect and to fulfill its mandate to expose people to the arts, exchange ideas, perspectives and facilitate conversations. We experienced connection with many other places as a result of our shift online. It was delightful and a bit amazing to hear of people around the world – Australia, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Sweden, the UK had been to the Gallery’s website. Community is now something different in the minds of the directors, and we hope in the minds of the membership and the local and regional community. The Durham Art Gallery is on the world map!
Going forward we will continue to expand our connectivity with the world, and to the local community through our online presence. We are excited about the extension of this outreach effort in 2021. You’ll hear more and we invite your participation going forward! We recognize that this new connection isn’t the same as the old connection, and many of us long for that old type of connection. As social beings, we long for that more traditional, in-person sense of community. But there is a way forward and we are obliged to pursue this way forward in order to full fill the obligations to our traditional community and our larger, newer, dare we say ‘global’ community.
The Gallery has evolved in the past three years. The contributions of Ilse Gassinger to the management, to the survival of the Gallery, must be acknowledged here. It is regularly acknowledged around the board table and something of an inspiration to those of us working at building an enduring public space. The contributions of past directors are also significant. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our recently retired members. David Sugarman considerately contributed his talents extending from the founding of the Gallery until 2021. Michele Bossi, Gerri Grant and Pat Morden provided insights into fundraising and organizing from their past experiences. Stella Coultas and Daniela Bosco shared their keen eye and support for artists and Ingo Huesing always provided a wonderful balance of practical advice and a progressive artistic vision.
I am pleased to report that our current slate of dedicated and passionate directors are also knowledgeable, have experience in the arts community and a deep appreciation for running a public gallery. Their contributions to development are very valuable as we build something sustainable.
Building and supporting arts in the community takes effort, and there are many tasks to be done of course. If those reading this would reach out to me, or the Curator Jaclyn Quaresma I believe we could find ways to reward the community-mindedness of each and every one of you. We welcome contributions from all members of the community as volunteers, members and of course we need directors to help shepherd the Gallery into the future.
We are building something that we expect to endure and contribute to the people of Durham, West Grey, the region and the world writ large now.
With best wishes for your safety and security going forward, we remain,
Peter Allen, President and Chair
On behalf of the Board of Directors