Toronto Power Plant board members resign en masse over management – ARTnews.com

The Power Plant, a leading contemporary art space on Toronto’s waterfront, has lost nearly its entire board, with 24 of its 27 members resigning en masse earlier this week. The members who resigned did so over objections to the running of the institution by an affiliated nonprofit, the Harbourfront Centre, and demanded that the institution be held “accountable”.

The news, which was the first reported speak art diary, comes less than a month after the departure of the director and artistic director of the Power Plant, Gaëtane Verna, to lead the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University. Verna had been director of the power plant for ten years.

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In a letter of resignation which distributed On social media, 15 board members, including Indigenous artist Maria Hupfield (Anishinaabe-kwe from Wasauksing First Nation) and actor Richard Lee, detailed their demands, particularly against Harbourfront Centre, a a separate nonprofit that appoints about half of the powerhouse’s board of directors and manages the site of the contemporary art space’s current location.

The letter reads: “Due to Harbourfront’s actions and our current impasse, we have concluded that we can no longer fulfill our commitments and duties to the Power Plant stakeholders, including government stakeholders, funders, artists, the arts community at large and individual supporters of the powerhouse The independent trustees of the powerhouse have no choice but to resign because of the actions taken by Harbourfront.

According to the letter from the resigning board members, on June 2, shortly after the power station held its 35th anniversary gala, the Harbourfront Center sought to fire 12 of the power station’s board members. electric” and to replace them with its own slate of directors of its own board or staff. This decision was made without consulting the power plant, and no convincing justification was provided.

According to the letter, those 12 council members included six women and five people who identify as black, Indigenous or of color. The letter adds that Harbourfront Center later filed a lawsuit against the power plant, which had a budget of around C$3.3 million in 2021, according to its most recent annual report.

After this article was published, a spokesperson for the power plant confirmed in a statement to ART news that Harbourfront Center had informed board members in June that “it would exercise its right to replace a number of directors on the board of The Power Plant”. The statement continued, “This change in institutional governance does not impact programming, day-to-day operations, or employee positions at The Power Plant, and the gallery retains full curatorial independence. The Powerhouse team continues to operate as usual during this time and is committed to advancing our mission by presenting engaging exhibits and public programs for all communities.

In a statement sent to ART newsMarah Braye, CEO of Harbourfront Center and one of the only remaining members of the power station’s board, called the former board members’ allegations “not correct” and that “governance issues and that were unresolved” had been going on for more than a year, particularly with its most recent chairman.

His statement added: “In fact, these changes have been made to ensure the proper governance structure to support the Director of The Power Plant and meet all operational needs. There were governance and operational issues that were not being addressed by the Power Plant Board. Despite repeated communications over the past year that have been presented to the Chairman of the Board, they have still not been addressed. We therefore had to exercise our rights to ensure good governance.

In a statement sent to ART news after the publication of this article, Lee, one of the board members, refuted Braye’s statement: “The power plant was fully fulfilling and meeting all of its obligations, including the concerns expressed in terms of governance and operating. We were experiencing the highest level of success before Harbourfront took these steps. »

Braye also disputed claims that Harbourfront Center is installing directors on the powerhouse board, writing: ‘It has been proposed to add a number of directors of Harbourfront Center on an interim basis only to support the looking for new board members. We are firmly focused on finding new independent nominees to The Power Plant’s Board of Directors who represent the diversity, skill set and experience that have been central to our mission for nearly 50 years.

On the page of Power plant website Reserved for the board roster, a statement read: “Powerhouse thanks the board for their unwavering support over the years and is proud to be associated with such leaders in our community. “

In their letter, the resigning board members further called on “the City of Toronto, Canadian Heritage and all funders and the powerhouse community to rein in Harbourfront Center and hold it accountable for its actions.”

Update, September 24, 5:20 p.m.: This article has been updated to include statements sent to ART news after publication by Richard Lee and the Powerhouse.

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