The proposed Audain Art Museum is quickly getting closer to a reality every single day.
Jim Moodie with the board of the newly incorporated non-profit said this week various consultants are working hard at making the project a reality at a “brisk” pace.
“There is a whole mass of people working their hearts out and working as fast as we can and we hope by Dec. 18 to sign a memorandum of understanding,” Moodie said, adding in the New Year they will begin statutory approval processes. “It is a short amount of time to do a complicated building, but it isn’t unreasonable … with the cooperation we have with the municipality it should be achievable.”
After the MOU with the municipality is signed it is expected that preliminary designs from Vancouver-based Patkau Architects will be completed in the New Year to go through the approval processes and a ground-breaking ceremony in May. Construction would begin immediately with completion slated for December 2014.
Meanwhile Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said at Tuesday’s (Dec. 4) council meeting the project is the top priority for town staff.
“Of course we are still in the proposal stage, but you can see that we are moving much closer to making this a reality,” said the mayor. “We believe the project is an ideal use for this parcel of land, consistent with how we received the land from the province.”
The Resort Municipality of Whistler received the land for $1 with the intention that it be used for park purposes only, Wilhelm-Morden added.
The intention, she said, is to sign a long-term lease with the museum for the land between Day Lots 3 and 4 and the Village maintenance shop that is currently located on that site will be relocated at the expense of the municipality.
In addition to the lease, the mayor said some fees, for things like rezoning applications and building permits, will be waived and a permissive tax exemption will be considered.
“That is something we have done for other facilities like the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre,” Wilhelm-Morden said. “This really is just an incredible investment in our community by the Audain Art Museum and I have no doubt at all that this is going to be a terrific partnership.”
The museum will pay for the costs to prepare the site, design and construct the building and its ongoing operation through establishing an endowment fund.
The 25,000 square foot museum will house philanthropist Michael Audain private collection of West Coast art, including what has been dubbed the best privately held collection of Emily Carr paintings and an amazing collection of First Nations masks.
Moodie said the museum hopes to also feature other exhibits in its space.
“We hope there will be an opportunity to do programming with not only the Vancouver Art Gallery, but other institutions,” he said. “There is a hope there will be touring shows, so there will be vitality and won’t be the same art all the time.”
Moodie said the board of the museum and the RMOW hope the project will do “a whole lot of good things for Whistler and a whole lot of things for people who love art around the world.”