Volunteer arts organizations. For anyone who has ever been involved in running one, those words probably bring on panic attacks and uncontrollable sobbing fits. Copious grant applications, promotions, bookings, fundraising, and an ever-changing roster of volunteers can easily result in many, many skull-clutching all-nighters.
So it’s no surprise that when the contract for the A1C Gallery Coordinator ran out, the once-again-volunteer-run organization missed a deadline.
“We were a bit late getting the financial report in with our application for a sustaining grant with the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council,” explains Mark Bennett, Chair of the A1C Board of Directors.
“Without an employee,” he continues, “it was hard for us to maintain the gallery and stay on top of things. The board of directors were all volunteers, and the high turnover in board members meant that every experience was a new one.”
The NLAC’s Sustaining Grant would have provided the A1C Gallery with a minimum commitment of $15,000 each year, for three years. Without it, the organization can no longer afford the rent at their gallery on Clift’s-Baird’s Cove. So they’re doing some organizational re-imagining.
“There is a potential to reinvent A1C, which is pretty exciting, you know?” says Bennett. “The gallery can change to whatever the board wants it to be, so we want to encourage people who have ideas to get involved. Personally, if I am to stay involved, I would like to see pop-up shows in different locations and do some fun things like that to keep it going.”
Bennett believes that it is critically important to keep the A1C going.
“[An artist-run gallery like the A1C] provides an interesting alternative for the public,” he says. “They’re usually free, and it’s not usually about selling the work, even though there’s nothing wrong with that. It opens up the opportunity to introduce different kinds of contemporary art to people. Our mandate specifically aims to exhibit emerging and established artists. There’s a real need for that in this city.”