National Gallery departures reflect ‘necessary’ change, says interim CEO

The director and director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa said that the current staff walkout, which has raised concerns among employees and critics, reports in the need for change in the country’s primary business.

“Change is necessary, and I know for some, the information about this need for change is not shared,” said Angela Cassie in an interview with CBC on Friday.

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Cassie, who took over as head of the Ottawa office last July, was speaking a week after a letter written by seven gallery workers was published. and sent to Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.

The letter cited a vacancy in key positions at the gallery after four more resignations, and fewer than 10 employees before the tenure of CEO and director Sasha Suda.

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The four new departures are the gallery’s long-standing indigenous art curators. Its general manager, its director of administration and technical research, and its chief director of communications, according to an internal memo that appeared publicly and said “there is a restructuring within the company.”

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While declining to go into detail about each employee, Cassie said the gallery welcomes the new team members “who are contributing their skills, knowledge and know to move us forward.”

“In this process, we also include voices that have been separated from this school,” he said.

The facade of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa was covered by the leaves in early November 2021. (Hugo Belanger/Radio-Canada)

Earlier this year, the gallery established a new department of indigenous methods and decolonization.

“That group is growing and they’re taking care of and leading the curatorial work in this transition and they’re working together to fulfill our message to the indigenous people,” said Cassie.

The abolition of the position of chief curator of indigenous work is related to the growth of the new department, he added.

“It leads us to look at different ways of making different buildings,” he said.

Responding to concerns about NDAs

The letter from the former workers complained to the gallery that the money spent on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), severance packages and consultants’ fees represented “a huge burden for an organization.” Crown.”

When asked about NDAs, Cassie said she was “not at liberty to start negotiating individual contracts.”

One of the signatories, Diana Nemiroff – who previously worked at the gallery for two years – said that NDA is not a normal practice.

Gabrielle Moser, an art historian at the University of York, says she sees NDA as “now commonplace in the world of visual arts.”

“I’ve heard a lot of people having to sign NDAs in order to agree to a deal at most cultural festivals, cultural organizations, or non-profits in the world. Canadian art these days,” said Moser.

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