A generous promise to help the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) expand in its current location on Moss Street was honoured Wednesday, as the sister of late artist Anthony Thorn dropped off a cheque for nearly $3 million.
The donation for the The NEXT Gallery project was promised by Thorn in January 2014, but was tied up in real-estate holdings in Regina until recently, when Thorn’s sister, Lyn Goldman, decided it was time to sell.
“We believe art galleries should be in spaces that are welcoming to people – where they feel comfortable. So Anthony loved this place,” said Goldman. “We made a legal agreement that he left his shares in our company to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. So they’ve been my partners for the last three or four years. I made a decision last year that I would sell the building and bring Anthony’s gift to the gallery.”
Thorn, an accomplished Canadian artist best known for using precious metals to create paintings and carvings, was inspired to donate after reading a Victoria News article on the gallery’s decision to redevelop its Moss Street facility, rather than move downtown.
“Anthony Thorn stepped forward as a donor at the very beginning of our renewal campaign, he had faith in our vision and wanted to honour his late wife Jacqueline,” said Leslie Hildebrandt, AGGV board vice-chaira. “It was important to Anthony to celebrate the relationship that they both had with the AGGV – a place where he said they were always made to feel at home.”
Family and friends of the late couple gathered in the gallery Wednesday, back-dropped by updated drawings of The Next Gallery project, to watch the presentation of the $2.8-million cheque in “Tony and Jacqui’s” memory.
“With Anthony’s philanthropic leadership as an example, we have been able to secure private donations to The NEXT Gallery project that exceed our initial targets; together with the donation from the Province of British Columbia we are closer to our groundbreaking than ever before,” said gallery director Jon Tupper.
The new contribution means over $11 million has been collected towards the project, with just over $13 million left to raise.
The Next Gallery aims to preserve the original location of the Spencer Mansion and build 1,850 square metres of new gallery space in a sparkling new structure fronting onto Moss Street that is built to modern seismic and environmental standards. It would feature a large glassed-in atrium entrance, a community auditorium, sculpture garden, cafe and expanded gift shop, as well as more space for interactive educational programs and collection storage.
The gallery is hoping to start physical construction in the next year to 18 months.
For more information on the Next Gallery Project, visit aggv.ca.