EARLY IDEAS IN 2016
2016 is similarly uneventful for the majority of the year.
As part of an “executive goals” presentation, VP Administration Chris Scott mentions an “art rental program”. It is unclear to me if this ever came to fruition.
Finally, on November 9th, 2016, the concept of selling artwork is brought up once again.
The idea is floated by then AMS president Ava Naisiri, who introduces the collection in purely financial terms. It costs a lot of money to insure, and the most expensive items could be sold. There are lots of ideas floating around at this point; the money could be put towards an “arts and culture” program, VP Finance Louis Retief thinks the AMS could benefit financially by putting it in the Endowment. Cyril offers a long term loan to a museum, to which Chris Scott points out the art rental program (unclear if any art was rented out). The referendum from years past is brought up, but Ava points out that the year-long term has expired (what kind of conversation would this be if it did not expire? who would be consulted in the process?). Kevin Doering and Kathleen Simpson offer words of caution, as selling a gift is in “poor faith” and that selling to a public gallery should be the priority. The Vancouver Art Gallery is mentioned as a possible buyer.
Although it's unclear exactly what motivated the idea of an Art Sale to surface in 2016, the motivations do seem to come from a financial perspective beyond anything else. The collection is worth $4.5 million, but also costs a lot of money to insure. The idea is to sell the most expensive pieces. At this stage, the AMS does not seem interested in a particular examination of the history of the collection, or considering any kind of curatorial rationale. The idea of what to do with the money is also vague and seems like a second thought. There is no thought given to the art as art, but rather it is just something that the AMS owns. As such, no connection to discourse concerning deaccessioning, or even just considering the value of the collection beyond that of an asset. The immediate reasoning for a sale seems to be a financial calculation: the collection costs a lot of money, and provides little use to the students. Carrying on the legacy of the 2012 referendum, a sale is presented as a singular, unequivocal idea rather than staring with the problem of the collection not being utilized and looking for solutions. The seeming conclusion of the 2012 attempt of selling art without bigger considerations being a bad idea does not exist in 2016.