Yesterday it was announced that the much talked about plan (10 years of wrangling) to build a permanent home for a National Portrait Gallery of Canada was eliminated.
My thoughts on this are first, what a sad day for Canadian portraiture. And secondly, what does this mean for the future of a permanent Gallery?
It is obvious that there has been much political interference in the decision. The current Government has made no secret that it does not support funding the arts as it feels it is elitist and not in the interests of the country at large. How sad and how misleading a direction to go in! Work that deserves a home will continue to be stored in a warehouse in Hull and exemplary director of the Gallery, Dr. Lily Koltun, was relieved of her post. The new Chief Librarian and Archivist has been quoted as saying that "the challenge to stay relevant in the digital age is colossal." This probably means that the entire catalogue will be digitized and be offered to Canadians on a web portal for viewing purposes.
But does art not deserve to be viewed in person and up close? Apparently the feeling is different by the decision-makers. As the digital revolution stabs itself firmly into the heart of works of art, the respect for the past is being put aside for lack of money and political initiative. I feel that the future is but a reflection of the past and we must recognize and honor it appropriately. Not in a digital catalogue, but in a permanent home of its own. Maybe someday our leaders will see it this way.