On a day the federal government confirmed a $15 million commitment to the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s construction of the Inuit Art Centre, the lingering question was, “Where is the province?”

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/8/2016 (2123 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On a day the federal government confirmed a $15 million commitment to the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s construction of the Inuit Art Centre, the lingering question was, "Where is the province?"

Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr announced the federal contribution to the $65 million project at the WAG on Tuesday.

"This unique centre will bring the wonders of the north to the south and allow visitors to learn more about this majestic ... part of Canada; its people, its culture, its history and its future," Carr said. "Canada’s stories shaped by our immense diversity deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world.

"With this announcement we know that Winnipeg will continue to excel, but now not only in our own community and across this great nation, but around the world."

Winnipeg deputy mayor Mike Pagtakhan was also at the ceremony, speaking to the city’s previous commitment of $5 million.

However, no member from the recently elected PC government was among the seated government representatives. The previous NDP government had committed $15 million towards the arts centre prior to being ousted in the April provincial election. Premier Brian Pallister has publicly stated that all NDP commitments are currently under review.

In a prepared statement attributed to Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Rochelle Squires, she said the government is reviewing the commitment.

"We appreciate the WAG’s understanding as we continue to engage on a value for money audit of commitments of taxpayer dollars," she said.

Construction on the four-storey centre, to be build adjacent to the existing WAG, is expected to begin sometime early in 2017 and be completed in 2019.

The project will include the construction of exhibition spaces, a glass-enclosed visible art vault, closed art storage, a conservation facility, art studios, a two-level interactive presentation theatre and classrooms.

MICHAEL MALTZAN ARCHITECTURE</p><p>Artist rendering of an aerial view of the Inuit Art Centre and Winnipeg Art Gallery.</p></p>

MICHAEL MALTZAN ARCHITECTURE

Artist rendering of an aerial view of the Inuit Art Centre and Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The Inuit Arts Centre will be the first of its kind in the world and contain 27,000 works.

"It’s also part of a bigger picture, part of a larger plan," noted WAG director and CEO Stephen Borys. "Canadians are among the leaders in an international effort to recognize the power, the importance and significance of indigenous culture and its vital role in a greater reconciliation. Everyone has a place on this journey and the Inuit Art Centre is just one of the ways the WAG is helping create a sustainable, respectful environment for understanding and healing.

"At its most creative, the centre will bring something of the Canadian Arctic to Winnipeg," he added. "But at its strongest and most impactful, the Inuit Arts Centre will be a place of transformation to indigenous art, a place where we learn about each other as well as ourselves."

Borys did refer to the "the unprecedented support from our municipal and federal governments" towards the project. When asked about the status of the province’s commitment, Borys said he was "not really concerned."

"They have obligations," he added. "We are in almost daily dialogue with them on this project. They are aware of it. And I expect a very positive outcome very soon. The fact is their pledge would be incredible. They have many things to review as a new government. And we have given them all the information that they require to make a decision."

Carr, meanwhile, said the centre would be an addition to the "very powerful constellation" of attractions that include the Forks and Assiniboine Park Conservatory and Journey to Churchill exhibits. The MP was confident the investment would pay for itself in general revenue.

"We know that people will come here, they will spend money, they will stay in hotels, they will buy food, they will bring their friends, they will speak well of Manitoba and what it uniquely offers. And that can only be good for us," he said.

And the Inuit artists?

"They will have access to millions of people who will see and appreciate their work," Carr added. "Northerners have been very much a part of this from the beginning and will be very much a part of it in the future."

Carr didn’t want to speculate on the fate of the province’s commitment, however.

"The province will make its own decision," Carr said. "We’re making the argument that this is a priority for the government of Canada. It’s a priority because we believe that the opportunity for Canadians, and really for citizens of the world, to have access to this magnificent collection - which is the most important collection of its type anywhere - that other levels of government will appreciate how important this is."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @randyturner15

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Randy Turner

Randy Turner
Reporter

Randy Turner spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.