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New Media Gallery attracts crowds to New West

The New Media Gallery is garnering attention from near and far as it brings works by international artists to New Westminster.
POPart, Anvil Centre, New Media Gallery.
The POPart exhibition at the New Media Gallery at Anvil Centre was a hit with visitors, so much so that it inspired Kurt Wipp and family to donate $10,000 in support of the gallery's future exhibitions.

The New Media Gallery is garnering attention from near and far as it brings works by international artists to New Westminster.

Since it opened in Anvil Centre last year, the New Media Gallery has hosted six exhibitions, with POPart being its most successful show and drawing 7,000 people to the gallery. Some of the exhibitions featured in the New Media Gallery are valued at more than $1 million.

Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan, the curators and directors of the New Media Gallery, have calculated that it’s the third most visited gallery in the Lower Mainland, trailing only behind the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Gallery.

“This actually really surprised us,” Joyce said. “We are very proud of this.”

Duggan noted that most of the other galleries have been around for more than 20 years, while the New Media Gallery is just a year old.

“A year ago we had no visitors. Now we have 25,000,” he said. “That is a fairly good rate of growth.”

A staff report states that the New Media Gallery is envisioned to be a contemporary gallery that exhibits sculptural and technology-based works. It aspires to be a space that encourages provocative, enjoyable, meaningful and multi-sensory experiences that connect with a diverse range of stimulating topics through art.

Duggan said the works of art are borrowed and the gallery doesn’t own any of the works. Having already attracted some of the biggest names in new media art, he said the gallery is building a brand and finding it’s increasingly easy to attract other artists.

“Immediately, people want to get on board with us, even big artists,” he said.

Joyce and Duggan gave council an overview of the first year of the gallery’s operations at council’s Nov. 30 meeting.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said the gallery is everything he expected it to be and attracts people of all ages.

“Keep up the good work,” he said. “I am absolutely thrilled you are in there. The results are unbelievable.”

Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks culture and recreation, said staff felt it was an opportune time to formally update council and the community on the activities and accomplishments of the gallery as it had completed a full year of operations. The information will also help council in its upcoming deliberations on the 2016 to 2020 financial plan.

According to Gibson, the 2015 operating budget for the New Media Gallery is $189,000. The director/curator function at the New Media Galley is provided to the city through a service contract with Joyce and Duggan.

New Media Gallery Facts:

The gallery has featured six international exhibitions in its first year: Musicircus; Biometric; Amour Fou; POPart; 5600K; and The Scary.

*  The six exhibitions have featured works by 41 artists from 13 countries, including 22 men and 19 women.

*  The gallery has attracted 25,000 visitors, one-third who are from outside New Westminster.

*  More than 1,000 people have attended opening receptions for the six exhibitions, along with an additional 1,800 for the opening of Anvil Centre.

*  The seven international artists’ talks at the New Media Gallery have attracted 660 people.

*  In one year, the New Media Gallery attracted 20,346 people ­­- more visitors than the Surrey Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, Presentation House, Belkin Art Gallery and Burnaby Art Gallery.

*  Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan are curators and directors of the New Media Gallery. Joyce previously worked as a senior conservator of electronic and time-based media at London's famed Tate Modern Gallery, while Duggan was the electronic media art manager for the Lisson Gallery, one of the oldest contemporary commercial galleries in the United Kingdom.

*  The gallery’s next exhibit, OTIC, opens in late January. It’s described as being “a very spare exhibition:  clean, bright white and open gallery with a few sculptural installations that all deal with the science of sound, explore how we hear and describe a sort of absence.”