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Early mentions of art sale
The first mention of the art sale in the archival record (that was accessible to me) was in the minutes for the AMS Student council meeting on July 14th, 2010. Newly elected VP External Bijan Ahmadian was presenting a Strategic Plan that was made up of 47 projects, including changing food an beverage prices, a UBC’s got talent event, a review of financial procedures, and much more. Hidden in the middle is a vague nod towards a “need to decide” what to do with the AMS collection… selling some?
Later in the same year, Kyle Warwick asks about selling art after a financial presentation that suggests raising student fees to keep up with AMS operating costs. Kyle is told it would have to go to referendum.
Almost a year after, the same person who shot Kyle down mentions the possibility of a referendum.
Now we’ve arrived to the first real discussion of the ideas around selling the art; Elin offers that the money from a sale would be going to “arts in general” or towards a new acquisition, and Jeremy agrees that such a sale could help emerging artists (speaking from 2021, this has not happened yet). Diana states a fundamental value (for themselves? for the AMS?) is to “have as much of the art open as possible”, citing poor conservation. These ideas are admirable within the larger context of deaccessioning practice; perhaps the AMS in thinking about pivoting it’s collecting practices to more so emerging artists. It is also important to note, however, that this conversation is led by the VP Finance and is happening simultaneously with one about selling the Whistler Lodge; a sale that seems to come of purely financial aspirations for the AMS. In this context, perhaps the collection is just another asset. Both of these asset-selling ideas need approval from the students before they can be completed.
In these early whispers of art-selling antics, a tension can already be felt. "Most of the executive is against it", but it isn't yet clear why. Perhaps a sort of "aura" exists around the high-value collection, and even students steeped in AMS politics recognize an impulse away from selling art. Further discussion shows that an art sale is being seriously considered (albeit pitched by the VP finance) but includes lots of justifications; 1. An endowment for the arts 2. The option to aquire more items for the collection, now from emerging artists. 3. The AMS is incapable of conserving the pieces (although a new storage space is being built) As we continue through the archive, why don't we remember these ambitions?