AMS Student Council // February 15, 2012 // Click for full document

After the referendum passed authorizing the AMS to sell art, Elin sets up an ad hoc Art Collection Committee that will “look into the possible sale of AMS artworks”. Elin emphasises the importance of involving “professionals”, “experts”, and “students who study art” in the committee. A suggestion is made to involve the “Facilities and Retail Servies Manager” (not clear why).

AMS Student Council // February 15, 2012 // Click for full document

Perhaps in response to this request an AMS staff member appointed by the General Manager is added to the list (the general manager is a permanent, non-student employee who takes care of the AMS’ business operations).

AMS Student Council // February 15, 2012 // Click for full document

Ignacio questions the vagueness of the “experts” Elin insists on, and specifics aren’t really given. Mike Silley (who seems to be looking out for the collection) finally brings up the AMS Art Gallery Commissioner, who would have been in charge of overseeing the collection anyway. They have “Strong knowledge”.

AMS Student Council // February 15, 2012 // Click for full document

They are added, but as a non-voting member.

Finally, the Art Collection Committee is founded with the following mandate and composition:

AMS Student Council // February 15, 2012 // Click for full document
AMS Student Council // May 2nd, 2012 // Click for full document

Following a few months of hiring, On May 2nd, 2012, appointments are being set up for the committee. It should be noted here that with the election the AMS executive also changed, with Tristan Miller sitting as VP Finance and Caroline Wong as VP Administration in the 2012-2013 academic year. Caroline points out that they should be included as the Art Gallery is in their portfolio, and they are added. VP Finance still chairs the committee, given it’s mandate to “look into the sale”.

AMS Student Council // May 2nd, 2012 // Click for full document

Appointments are made! Mike Silley, who has been interested in options other than selling work is appointed. The “experts” are director the the Belkin Art Gallery Scott Watson, collector and real estate marketer Bob Rennie, and AHVA professor Jaleh Mansoor. I’ll remind the reader here that the committee will dissolve on February 28th, 2013 as this is what the referendum authorized.


Within the council minutes things are pretty quiet after the formation of the committee, and any other records are quite sparse.

AMS Student Council // June 20, 2012 // Click for full document

There is one interesting tidbit though; an “Art Gallery commissioner report” mentioned on June 20th, 2012. Although unconfirmed, I think this report could be one that was pulled for me by the AMS Archive Assistants. It takes the form of a word document attached to an email. Although the email was sent in November, it is unknown when the report itself was written.

Email correspondence // Caroline Wong to Tristan Miller // November 19th, 2012
Kathleen Handfield (?) // REPORT on the AMS ART GALLERY // 2012 // Click for full document

The report is quite interesting, and is worth reading in full. Seemingly written by Kathleen Handfield, the Art Gallery Commissioner at the time, the report gives a brief summary of the history of the AMS Art Gallery and the Collection, and outlines “strengths and weaknesses”. Kathleen then outlines “options” and their recommendations for the gallery. It is here where many alternatives to selling work are outlined if the gallery wants to become a more financially viable, including gifting the collection, placing it on loan to an institution, or renting it out through a corporate loan program. The last phrases of the report assert that all other fundraising options need to be explored to their fullest potential before looking to sell art. Kathleen suggests a 3 year trial period before the AMS consider selling parts of the permanent collection.

AMS Student Council // August 1, 2012 // Click for full document

In Council on August 1st, 2012 it seems like the report may have reflected the attitude of the overall committee. Tristan moves for the terms to be expanded to “allow the committee to look into other options concerning the art collection” and produce a strategic plan that would go along with a 3 year operational plan. It seems like the committee was interested in looking beyond selling work and take up some of Kathleen’s recommendations.

AMS Student Council // November 28, 2012 // Click for full document

Jumping forward to November, it seems like the committee is fully investing in a “fundraising model” rather than discussing selling work.

And then… nothing. At this point in the minutes, the art gallery is only invoked to announce new exhibitions, or discuss plans to move into the new space that was being built at the time. Seeing as the committee was set to disband by February 28th, 2013, it seems like it was disbanded without moving forward with any sale. The strategic plans and conversations at the table in 2012 may be for a future researcher to uncover, as I was unable to access minutes from the actual committee.

The Art Collection Committee was established in response to a referendum that authorized the AMS to sell artwork, which as we explored came very much from a financial angle. The inaction of the committee in actually selling the work could be understood as the fault of a naïve 1 year timeframe in the original referendum, but from the evidence presented here it's likely there was more to it. The Art Gallery Commissioner laid out in very clear terms that there are many other options, and that selling artwork should be a last resort. The committee even expanded it's mandate beyond selling work. Let's not forget that this committee included the director of the Belkin and an AHVA professor, alongside various AMS student leaders. Did the "experts" that the AMS placed such importance in decide that artwork shouldn't be sold, that there are other ways to mobilize the collection and support student art at UBC? It's more than likely. The years ahead hold big changes for the AMS, the most significant being the move to a shiny new student center, the AMS Nest. How was the collection spoken about during this time?