A Vancouver art gallery that closed in March after seven-and-a-half years of operations will shut down as of Thursday.
The gallery in the city’s west end was the subject of a complaint from Vancouver police and was ordered to close after it failed to meet minimum standards.
It closed with a notice of termination and the gallery will remain closed until the court issues an injunction barring it from operating.
“We have been doing everything in our power to make sure that we do everything that we can to make this happen,” said Art Gallery Director Michael Stokes.
“I want to reassure our customers that we’re committed to making this happen, and we’re working as quickly as possible to get this right.”
Stokes said he had no comment on the lawsuit filed in February.
The closure of the gallery is expected to be the final blow for the Vancouver art scene, which has been on the decline for years.
Vancouver is one of the top five art markets in the world, but in recent years it has seen an explosion in demand for its art, with more than half a million people visiting the city last year.
That influx has seen a surge in the number of galleries opening in recent months.
In March, Vancouver police said the gallery had been failing to meet the standards for operating, and had filed a complaint against it.
The police report said that a series of problems with the gallery over the last seven years had left it “in a precarious financial position.”
Among the complaints was a failure to properly maintain its paint and fixtures, a lack of staff to maintain the art collection and staff not being able to work 24 hours a day.
The report also said that the gallery was not meeting minimum standards for the quality of its art.
It said that in recent days, “the staff, artists, and patrons have been very disturbed by the situation at the Art Gallery, which continues to cause a significant and persistent disruption to the work of art.”
The gallery had planned to close in April, but the court’s order made it mandatory for it to shut down by Thursday.
Stokes says he hopes the closure is not an indication of a more serious issue at the gallery.
“It’s been a challenging time for the Art Department, for the people of Vancouver,” he said.
“Our staff have been working really hard, and it’s been very stressful.”
The closure comes as Vancouver’s art scene has been struggling to find new artistic voices.
“The Art Gallery is one that’s really hard to shake off,” said Victoria-based artist Laura Nieder.
“People are very supportive of art and it can be quite a social space, and the art is very visible, and people can feel comfortable expressing themselves.”
Nieding said she felt safe at the art gallery because she could go to the art show and meet people.
“And I can be a part of this social space that’s being built around me,” she said.
The Art Gallery has had to rely on volunteers to maintain it for years, said Nieden.
“You have to make a choice to put yourself out there, to put your face out there and be visible,” she explained.
“So I think that’s something that we’ve struggled with a lot, as an institution and as a community.
I think it’s a big challenge for any place like this.”
A spokesman for Vancouver Police told CBC News that the complaint was “not related to the closure of our office.”
“The complainant was directed by the Police Service of Canada to notify us of the closure by contacting our Operations Support Team on May 10, 2018, and to provide us with a written statement,” the spokesman said in an email.
“This matter is now under investigation.”
The Art Museum in Vancouver also filed a formal complaint about the closure.
“Vancouver’s Art Museum has long operated in a way that has been inconsistent with our mandate and we are disappointed that the Art Centre has decided to close, subject to a court order, to address this issue,” said the museum in a statement.
“Art galleries are a vital part of our city’s cultural life, and should not be forced to close because they fail to meet our standards.”
Stopes says he is confident that he and his staff will be able to find a replacement.
“Hopefully we’ll be able find some other way to keep the Art Museum going,” he added.
“As we’re closing, we’re not shutting down any other galleries in Vancouver.”