Thunder Bay·Updated

Ottawa announces $3.5M to build new Thunder Bay Art Gallery

The federal government has announced an additional $3.5 million for the construction of a proposed new art gallery in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Funding announced Monday morning

Sharon Godwin is the director of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. (Gord Ellis / CBC)

The federal government has announced $3.5 million for the construction of a proposed new art gallery in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The announcement was made by Thunder Bay area MPs Patty Hajdu and Don Rusnak Monday morning. The money comes from FedNor and virtually ensures the project will move ahead.

"It's a go," gallery director Sharon Godwin told CBC News. "We will now be going out more to the community in the next few months and talking about the community supporting the art gallery."

"It's been a long process," she said of how long it's taken to go from a feasibility study in 2010 to where they are now.

The infusion of cash from Ottawa, along with local fundraising efforts, brings the project within 90 per cent of its fundraising goal, Godwin said.

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The federal Liberals announced $11.5 million for the project in July 2018; the province pitched in $5 million earlier that year.

The proposed $33 million project would see the art gallery move from its current location on the Confederation College campus to a new building on the city's waterfront. Godwin said funding from federal, provincial and municipal levels of government totals $27.5 million.
On the lakeside, the design for the proposed new Thunder Bay Art Gallery would include a covered area, 'for the public, for art classes to spill onto,' said director Sharon Godwin. (Patkau Architects and Brook McIlroy)

Godwin has said the new gallery space will bring benefits to the city's tourism sector as well as help the city economically. It's also slated to include climate-controlled storage space that officials say will allow the gallery to expand its permanent collection.

Designs for the 37,000-square-foot facility include six separate exhibition spaces.

"It's really for everyone," Rusnak said. "For families, for people that aren't, that haven't maybe been involved in art in their entire life." He added that the larger gallery will also be able to house the work of Indigenous artists, giving them more space to show their work.
Dignitaries were on-hand Monday for the latest funding announcement for the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, including (left to right) Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak, Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu, Katie Crowe, the chair of the art gallery's fundraising campaign and gallery director Sharon Godwin. (Gord Ellis / CBC)

"I know the art gallery works with other community groups across northwestern Ontario to bring them in and allow them to use their spaces."

Monday's funding announcement is earmarked for site preparation, landscaping and construction costs.

"This is Thunder Bay, we deserve a very good space for the visual arts, a beautiful space, but a space that the community can afford that the community is comfortable in," Godwin said.