ART Gallery Story
Address: 1040 Moss Street Victoria, British Columbia
Canada V8V 4P1
When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) exhibited art in its historic 1889 mansion that is now adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 20,000 works of art, the Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria's artist community. The AGGV is a public art gallery and committed to the celebration of art. With vision, leadership and scholarship they engage and inspire diverse audiences through exhibitions, interpretation, and stewardship of the collection.
The AGGV is a member of the Community Partnership Network (CPN): ‘The CPN includes more than 240 local businesses, agencies and institutions who work together and are broadening their capacity to engage with diverse communities and build relationships across cultures.’
Art is a universal language, it is hard for people to resist it. The AGGV is keen to promote diversity and inclusion with an increasingly diverse general public. Recently, the AGGV has undertaken initiatives to increase attendance and build connections with diverse newcomer communities. Getting newcomer immigrants, refugees and other diverse communities to embrace the local Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) has not always been easy-but it is changing!
Indeed, the AGGV insists to make diversity awareness a priority for their staff by accommodating international visitors and focusing on ways to effectively communicate with them. AGGV had its staff take cross cultural training, provided by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, which included a series of learning modules that helped staff to better understand cultural barriers, personal biases and cross cultural communication tools. Wanting to improve direct engagement with non-English speaking visitors, AGGV staff have also recently completed training on the We Speak Translate initiative and Google Translate App- a handy smart phone tool that allows users to communicate across more than 100 languages. Now visitors from around the globe are able to use the Google translator APP on iPad at the front desk.
The AGGV also initiated the Warm Welcome Pass initiative in October 2016. More than 200 family passes were provided to ICA to distribute to Syrian Refugee newcomers to enjoy the art gallery free of charge. The special grant for this initiative was made available through the Canadian Council for the Arts. With the arrival of Syrian refugees in 2016 in our region, the AGGV saw this as an opportunity to directly connect with the Muslim community. This opportunity also saw the AGGV encourage the local Girl Guide group from the Al-Iman Masjid Mosque to attend the Gallery’s Family Sunday programming. Daughters, mothers, fathers and siblings from the Muslim community enjoyed Family Sunday programming with many returning again later for follow up visits.
Additionally, the Gallery is a hub for the Cultural Access Pass for new citizens to explore Canadian culture. This is a program organized by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). Moreover, the AGGV shows the diversity through their exhibitions. Currently, the exhibit Karen Tam: With Wings Like Clouds Hung from the Sky explores the work of an artist named Lee Nam, a Chinese immigrant to British Columbia at the turn of the 20th century, who is known solely through the journals of Emily Carr. Karen Tam, draws on archival research to speculate on artistic influence and exchange between Carr and Nam. Tam re-imagines Lee Nam's painting studio, on Cormorant Street in Victoria's Chinatown, to evoke the presence of an unknown artist. The exhibit invites visitors to interact with the art work by participating in traditional Chinese brush stroke painting.
As a CPN member, the AGGV is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within its Gallery walls and with the broader community.
We Interviewed:Emma Hamill (Visitor Experience Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator)
Story written by Gordon Liu.