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Art gallery to reopen despite ordeals

Executive director Dauna-Kennedy Grant (right) and volunteer June Duncan unpack items at the Vernon Public Art Gallery in preparation for a January 16 reopening.
January 10, 2014 - 12:35 PM

VERNON - The Vernon Public Art Gallery will soon reopen its doors after a month-long closure caused by flooding.

Executive director Dauna Kennedy-Grant says everyone at the gallery is looking forward to getting back to normal after a challenging winter.

“It’s been very chaotic,” Kennedy-Grant says of the sudden closure December 6. “It’ll be nice to get going again... and get hammering away again on the new facility.”

A broken water line on 31st Avenue was to blame for flood waters trickling into every room of the gallery, drenching insulation in the walls and damaging carpeting.

“It ended up being considerably more damage than it first appeared,” Kennedy-Grant says. “We had no idea the extent of the damage until they started ripping into (the walls).”

She suspects the damages will cost around $10,000 to $20,000, though no firm estimate as been pegged.

As restoration crews work to put all the pieces of the gallery together again for a January 16 reopening, staff are also waiting for the furnace to be fixed. The building has been without proper heating for about three months, leaving employees and volunteers huddled around space heaters.

It’s not an ideal scenario, or an ideal location. But that could all change if a referendum for a new art gallery is successful. Greater Vernon politicians haven’t set a date for the referendum yet, though it’s in the works.

During the gallery closure, staff managed to keep one operation going. Exhibits were cut short and programs cancelled, but the gift shop remained open at a temporary location: the proposed site of the new art gallery, two blocks away on the same road within a vacant building that once housed the Vernon Flower Shop.

“What I was really thrilled about is we are even more confident now that we picked the right location. We probably had triple the number of people coming through the door than we do here,” Kennedy-Grant says.

She says big barriers to walk-in visitors at the current location are poor visibility and the fact that people have to cross the highway to get there.

“We had probably an equivalent amount of sales in a week and a half (at the temporary location) that we usually get here in the whole month of December,” she says.

Kennedy-Grant is glad they were able to keep the gift shop open to support the artists selling their wares there.

Next Thursday’s reception will mark the start of a new exhibit, and a new year for the gallery.

“This is a reception to celebrate together that we’ve made it through,” Kennedy-Grant says.

The public is welcomed to the reception January 16 from 6-8 p.m.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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