Click on headers to find research and commentary.

PART 1: The Proposal + Referendum Wording


AMS Council Meeting // January 11, 2012 // Click for full document

VP Finance Elin Tayyar presents the idea of asking the student body about selling 3 pieces from the collection on January 11th, 2012. The campaign period ran from January 16th-27th, and voting week went from January 23rd-27th. Fear of the art community is invoked, and an “endowment for the arts” makes a return in the new year. Elin pleads to council; “Let’s free the art and let students get a reward for selling the art.”

The same presentation has a question period (which of course is combined for both the proposal to sell the Whistler cabin and artwork) When asked for details about this mysterious art endowment, Elin (in my imagination) looks wistfully into the distance and asks “Art, what is it?” before suggesting a committee that would be put in charge of the money.

Ignacio seems extra keen to sell the art, asking why a vote needs to happen at all and if the AMS would sell more than three. I wonder how many people agree with him.

Elin moves to vote on the referendum, with the exact wording above. AMS Student Council is appointed as the ones choosing the paintings. An Arts Endowment Fund is put forward that will aquire more work and support arts on-campus.

A discussion period ensues! Dylan Callow (a “guest” at the meeting from the Commerce Undergraduate Society) comes out in protest, calling the idea ridiculous, and points out that alternatives, such as renting or lending the pieces haven’t been considered. Elin respons with saying that nobody likes art as much as them (What is art?), but in order to respect the work it needs to be sold. Investment in “up and coming” artists is promised once again.

It is worth pointing out here that Council seems to be in charge of picking work to sell, but is talking to Scott Watson of the Belkin as a way to consult with the Arts community. Mike Silley says there is a “buzz” in the arts community about money being directed back into the arts community. Katherine joins in, and says that “it will go to good art places”, speaking in spectacularly vague terms.

The motion passes unanimously.

PART 2: The Campaign + Opinions


The Ubyssey // January 23rd, 2012 // Page 19

Outside of the council meetings, promises get more detailed. In a piece for the 2012 Election Issue of the Ubyssey, Elin promises the following:

  1. over $1 million that will go towards the Arts Endowment
  2. student art programs
  3. artist-in-residence programs
  4. expanded capacity for acquisitions, at $40 000-50 000 a year
The Ubyssey // January 26, 2012 // Page 10

The editors at the Ubyssey are not impressed by the referendum, citing a lack of transparency, the cultural value of the paintings, and the ethical dimensions of selling gifts. They aren’t fully opposed to a sale, but emphasize that this needs the condition of the money being put to use towards the collection.

The Ubyssey // January 26, 2012 // Page 11

Bryce Warnes, in the comedy sections, makes some interesting proposals for the AMS collection; permanently installed murals, and artwork that appeals to most UBC students. Bryce then compares the collection to the annual poster sale that’s hosted at UBC every year, but is hiring student artists to make art for the collection that bad of an idea?

PART 3: Results

As reported by the Ubyssey on January 30th, 2012 the Art Sale Referendum passed with 4166 (83.8%) students voting YES against 808 (16.2%) voting NO. Of course, 57 554 students were enrolled at UBC that year, meaning 11.57% of students voted for the question.

The Art Sale Referendum of 2012 was one led by VP Finance Elin Tayyar, and was part of a larger "Fiscal Responsibility Referendum". There is no doubt that the original ideation for selling art was connected to the AMS' overall finances, as the justification of it costing too much was brought up repeatedly. Of course, many promises were made. The "YES" campaign promised an Art Endowment of over $1 million that would go towards general art programming, an artist-in-residence program, and an annual budget of $50 000 for new acquisitions for the collection. This kind of programming sounds amazing, and fits well within museum standards for deaccessioning; money made would go towards maintaining and expanding the collection with the hope of making it more relevant to the public. However, there are so many questions that were unanswered in the campaign. Why is the AMS Council the one in charge of choosing which pieces to sell? To what extent do they plan to consult with students and the art community at UBC? Which pieces are being considered? Why weren't alternatives (like loaning out work to the Vancouver Art Gallery in exchange for free student admission, as proposed by Mike Silley) considered? Despite all this, the referendum question was approved by Council unanimously and voted in by the student body. But what came of it all?