Just about the country's entire cultural sector wants Pablo Rodriguez to fix this mess
Keep at it Paul.
I don't have a dog in this specific fight, but I do appreciate your paragraph about the "merit-based system" and the occasional utility of what some might dismiss as "cronyism". Not many are willing to advocate for anything that sounds like "patronage" anymore. I've always been baffled by the PM's notion that fundamentally political jobs requiring political talents must be filled on the basis of who's most apolitical (and lacking in those talents), and that "merit" can be generalized (i.e., "No need to look at the qualifications required for this specific job, just hire an astronaut and call it a day, astronauts have lots of merit").
One of Angie Cassie’s talking points was that 70 percent of the people in senior positions in the gallery are 55 and over. The Heritage Minister happens to 55. I’m not necessary calling out ageism here, but what we are seeing is the typical managerial style that puts its faith in metrics. Her polling of morale is typical of this corporate style. The whole transformation exercise was the work of branding consultants, whose tired, aspirational style has now become the managerial mantra. But I am glad thsybattention to the crisis isn’t going away.
Again an excellent article and so happy to hear that action is being taken. Ms Cassie has overstepped her mandate as an interim director and went too far. I do hope the Minister and Cabinet wake up to this disaster. Get rid of that Francoise Lyon and Cassie and cronies who are not qualified to be at the NGC.
Please keep writing about this. The NGC is a treasure that deserves much better. The Minister meeting with Nemiroff, Charlie Hill and the rest could be very enlightening. Let wiser minds and management prevail. I love this place too.
Let's see. Cost of $37 million per year, and nearly half a million visits in a good year. That's at least $74 per visit, and presumably a lot more in a bad year. A bargain.
But I very much enjoy your writing style, so please don't kick me out just yet.
Another brilliant piece Paul. Heartfelt and full of insight. You are asking the right questions. When will we get responsible honest answers? Can politically appointed boards have good governance?
don't know my password. A Senior here. Just let me comment
Great story on the NGC. THANKS for it.
Gail B, St. Catharines
Thank you for writing about this - it is important!
So Lyon just happened into the job? Mailed in her CV on the off-chance? Seems fairly unlikely.
More likely is that she was pre-selected for the job and - by the way, don't forget to send us an updated CV so it looks legit - with the full knowledge of the planned strategy, leading directly to where things are now.
How can Rodrigue "fix" this, since he is almost certainly in sympathy with both Lyon and the strategy? So maybe Cassie has been a bit too clumsy and obvious, needed to move a bit more slowly...or maybe she has done her job, cleaned out some deadwood, and can now move on to her next post?
None of this seems accidental.
The only time I see lots of people is during the special exhibits. I do love sitting and enjoying my favs as if they are my personal art work when no one is around.....but we should have way more visitors. I was recently in Mexico City. There were lots of people in the beautiful Soumaya museum....oh yeah it is a city of 22 million people (8 million in the core). Our national gallery is in a city of 1 million so my comparison may not be fair, but where are our art lovers? Or what is missing?
There are problems here …
Coming from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights which is barely a museum (if it is at all), Cassie does not have the training or experience to take on this role. I worked with her there and I’m very familiar with her strengths - unfortunately they don’t line up with requirements of the CEO/ Director position.
So glad you dug into the questions surrounding Board engagement, support, and participation. I’ve been wondering about the Board of Trustees (and their silence) ever since this story broke.
Time for resignations and not more “departures”
Excellent piece, Paul, and so great that you followed up with a visit, pix, and contrasted art that talks to us with the loud silence of a gallery almost empty of visitors.
Just a word of thanks to Paul Wells for his astute attention to what should be one of the icons of Canadian culture, the National Gallery. It has no major show running at the moment. The banners proclaiming upcoming exhibitions are down. The place is empty. Change is clearly needed.
One thing that you may want to read, pertaining to the National Gallery's mission statement to "... deepen empathy", is this article from Alice Gribbin.
There's a debate to be had around this subject itself, and it sounds like the National Gallery jumped onto currently-popular empathy train, without consideration of what to do when this trend falls out of favour in the art world, as all trends do.
She says after all most were over 55 years old. How asinine, their peers are the one frequenting museums. Museums are the keepers of a country's cultural identity.