Statement from the Board Chair
Interim Director and CEO Support
8 December 2022
In order to provide some context to the current media coverage on the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), our Interim Director and CEO Angela Cassie, has over the past few days, conducted numerous media interviews, has engaged in discussion with valued partners and has reached out to the staff of the Gallery. In each of those discussions, Ms. Cassie has affirmed that the decisions made under her interim tenure reflect the continued efforts to implement a refreshed path forward for the NGC. Working from a bold and transformative five-year plan, announced last year, and very well received by the Gallery’s stakeholders, it builds on the great work of past employees. In implementing this strategic plan, a sometimes difficult but needed journey of transformation, Ms. Cassie has the support of the Board as she does in her resolve to communicate the importance of current changes within the Gallery to staff, partners and to Canadians.
The Board and management recognize that, for some, the decisions taken recently were difficult to accept. They were not easy decisions to make. But they were important to take if the NGC is committed to its evolution as a forward-looking and internationally recognized institution. There has been a disturbing suggestion by previous employees that the NGC is more focused on social policy than on art. Nothing could be further from the truth. In presenting art responsibly, we must also recognize the social factors that shape the expectations of our supporters, visitors and artistic communities. It is disappointing that several media outlets carried a disturbing tone of intolerance and a distinct lack of understanding about the need to advance initiatives around racism, diversity, and decolonization. These are not politically driven platitudes; these are programs that reflect the deepest values of the National Gallery of Canada and the sentiments of the Government of Canada.
The National Gallery of Canada has served as a proud centrepiece of the Canadian artistic fabric for 142 years. In that time, we have seen many changes. In continuing to shape the future of the Gallery in a way that responsibly recognizes the changing world around, we will look outward and to the future. We are grateful for all those who have contributed to where we are today, and in the spirit of Ankosé—the driving premise of the Gallery’s approach to rejuvenation—we recognize that everything truly is connected: past, present, and future. We hope that all Canadians—of every age and of every background—will join us on this incredible journey.