Keyano President Defends RMWB’s Approval Of International Art Gallery

Keyano College is defending the municipality’s decision to provide them with funding for a new art gallery.

During budget meetings last month, Wood Buffalo council approved over $16.85 million for the college to help them create an international art gallery for the community.

The approval does come with certain terms including a legal review, a commitment to investigate additional funding sources, consulting the community, providing quarterly updates, and more.

The decision was not met without scrutiny, with many members of the community questioning the need and the price tag.

Despite that, Keyano President Dr. Trent Keough tells Mix News they feel this is something Fort McMurray truly needs.

“We can challenge the moment and the amount, but we can’t deny the fact that the community wants the arts to be supported. And this is one way in which, through the foresight of this council, they are saying it’s time to make a financial commitment and move forward.”

The gallery won’t just benefit the arts community, but the local economy should see impacts as well.

Chief Financial Officer and VP of Corporate Services Dale Mountain says with the gallery, they’ll be able to support up to 78 employees.

“We are going to not only new instructors and professionals, but we are going to bring in students. That’s so key. From within the region, the province and internationally. There’s an initiative right now that’s looking into recruiting international students and I think this is something that will appeal to them.”

Keyano’s proposed gallery. Photo courtesy: Keyano College

The college feels the gallery will also exponentially improve arts within the region.

Keough notes the biggest impact will be felt on the college’s arts programs.

“We will provide a broad spectrum of programs that enable all citizens in Wood Buffalo. We need to prepare for that when we stop producing in the oil sands that people will still want to live in Fort McMurray. And one of the things that will draw them is a comprehensive community college with a thriving arts community.”

Keough says now that the approval is made, there will be plenty of opportunities for public consultation.

He adds this project be a great avenue for Fort McMurray to celebrate its diversity through arts.

“What better way to get to know your neighbour than to see their art and to understand and appreciate what their art means in their culture? We have a tremendous opportunity here – we have a resource which is our people, and that we need to learn and celebrate each other. What better way to do that than through art?”

Keough says they should have an idea on when they can break ground on construction at some point next year.

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