Saskatoon's Remai Modern continues to suffer multimillion-dollar funding shortfall

As the finishing touches are completed at Saskatoon's Remai Modern, the art gallery continues to run a funding deficit between $2.5 and $4.5 million.

Gallery estimating budget deficit between $2.5 and $4.5 million

The Remai Modern Gallery is set to open in the fall with a price tag of $84.6 million. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

As the finishing touches are completed at Saskatoon's Remai Modern, the art gallery continues to run a funding deficit.

In a report heading to city councillors, the gallery's funding shortfall is estimated to be between $2.5 and $4.5 million dollars. 

There isn't a firm number on the deficit total, as the City of Saskatoon is still in talks with builder EllisDon over costs and construction delays.

The cost of the gallery has become a point of concern with some city councillors, with them wondering if the project has become too expensive.

At a meeting in January, councillors grilled Remai Modern board members on whether staff needed to be hired so far in advance of when the gallery will actually open. However, board members said money has not been wasted on staff.

The Remai Modern project has been plagued by construction delays. The gallery was originally supposed to open last year.

As a result, the gallery board said it has missed out on lucrative opportunities for tourism dollars and wedding bookings typically seen in the summer and early autumn.

During budget deliberations in December, city council voted to cut $75,000 from the Remai's operating subsidy of more than $5 million per year.

So far, the gallery has raised $84.6 million. 

Here's a breakdown of where the money came from:

  • $22,095,160: Remai Gallery pre- and post-2013 fundraising.
  • $30,287,000: City of Saskatoon.
  • $488,000: Remai board loan from city for kitchen equipment.
  • $4,093,000: Provincial funding – Building Communities.
  • $12,651,000: Provincial funding – Building Canada.
  • $13,020,000: Federal funding – Building Canada.
  • $2,000,000: Private donation by the Ellen Remai Foundation for final fit-out of the Shell Gallery and main floor security additions.

Meanwhile, the Remai Modern's staff has moved into the building. The city is aiming for an opening date in the fall.

The report will be presented at the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services on Monday.