Mendel Art Gallery - Resignation of Executive Director
Statements from the Mendel Art Gallery and Terry Graff regarding the resignation are included here, in the order in which they were received.
Also included is a letter from George Moppett, who recently retired as the Mendel's Associate Curator.
October 31 2007
The Board of Trustees of the Mendel Art Gallery announced today that Terry Graff has resigned as Executive Director of the Gallery, effective immediately.
Board Chair Art Knight said that the Mendel Board recently decided not to extend Mr. Graff's existing contract beyond its October 2008 expiration date. In light of that decision, the Mendel Board and Mr. Graff have agreed that it is in their mutual interest that the contract be concluded immediately. As part of this agreement, Mr. Graff will receive six months salary.
Effective today, the Board has appointed Mr. Howard Janzen, Manager of Finance and Operations, to temporarily run the day to day operations of the Gallery. The Board will immediately begin national recruitment of a new Executive Director.
The Board is conscious of the challenges of the immediate future. The Capital Campaign, which has begun with very positive response from potential major donors, will continue uninterrupted led by our Fund Raising Consultant, Mr. Darryl Peck. The exceptional local and national reputation of the Gallery and the manifest strong support of the community will be of great importance as we move through this transition period.
The Mendel Art Gallery is a vibrant and important part of our community. The Mendel Board is entrusted with the mandate of the Gallery – "to operate and maintain a public museum for the collection, preservation, and interpretation of works of art, and for the development of public understanding and appreciation of art" and is responsible for the exercise of that mandate through the Executive Director.
The Board of Trustees is comprised of fourteen members; ten appointed by City Council, two elected by the Gallery membership, and two members of City Council.
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Art Knight, Board Chair
via Ms. Judy Koutecky, Administrative Assistant at the Gallery
November 5 2007
It was with deep regret that I tendered my resignation as Executive Director & CEO of the Mendel Art Gallery on Wednesday, October 31, 2007.
I am very proud of the many accomplishments of the Mendel Art Gallery during my tenure as Executive Director & CEO. The Five-year Business Plan (2007-2011) that I developed with the assistance of senior staff was approved by the Board of Trustees and sanctioned by city council and the city's auditor. The Mendel's overall budget saw a significant increase of over a half a million dollars from $2,218,898 in 2003 to $2,738,676 in 2007, and the organization ended the last fiscal year with a surplus. Further, in recognition of its exceptional program of contemporary art, the Mendel Art Gallery was rewarded with an increase to its annual operating grant from the Canada Council for the Arts this year, the first such increase in many years.
Under my leadership, many new initiatives and community partnerships served to increase audience and integrate the Gallery more fully in the community; the Gallery's profile was greatly enhanced through various new promotional vehicles, including a new website and a Public Awareness Campaign; relationships with the Mendel/Mitchell family were strengthened; many exciting major exhibitions featuring Saskatchewan's extraordinary artists were initiated and presented, some traveling across the country; many new works of art were secured for the Permanent Collection (over 100 in 2004 alone); the Gallery's membership grew significantly; many new and creative links were forged with the local business community; and many new improvements were made to the efficient management and operations of the Gallery.
In 2003, when I accepted the position of Executive Director & CEO, the top priority communicated to me by the Board of Trustees was the facility renovation and expansion project. Despite many hurdles, over the course of the past four years, significant funding was secured from three levels of government for the improvement and expansion of the building: $4.6 million from the City of Saskatoon; $4,092,877 from the Province of Saskatchewan through the Building Communities Program; and $438,513 from the Federal Government through the Cultural Spaces Canada Program.
I cannot comment on the new direction the Board of Trustees has in mind for the Mendel Art Gallery, but wish them the very best in their efforts at forging a new vision and Five-year Business Plan. In closing, I wish to thank my dedicated staff, the Gallery Group Volunteers, the Mendel Art Gallery Foundation, Mendel members, donors, and patrons, Saskatchewan's many outstanding artists, and numerous friends and colleagues across the country for all their support and generous good will. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given to serve the Mendel Art Gallery and the citizens of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan.
November 14 2007
Letter to the Editor of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Public accountability should dictate that The Mendel Art Gallery board’s decision not to renew executive director Terry Graff’’s contract (The Star-Phoenix, November 1, 2007, pages A1-A2) be examined in greater detail. After over four years of outstanding service, Mr Graff is entitled to more of an explanation than the cliché, offered by Art Knight that “the board is looking for a fresh approach”.
Hired in 2003 as director, Mr. Graff was given the mandate to design and implement a plan to create an enlarged gallery, one more capable of handling the requirements of a significant collecting and exhibiting gallery. Mr. Graff’s plans for a renovated Mendel were well thought out and had progressed, because of his tireless efforts and extensive consultations, through varying levels of design, promotion and fund-raising (The Star-Phoenix, November 2, 2007, page A3). As senior administrator, he showed his program staff respect, providing leadership and support in the Gallery’s efforts to provide a balanced and thought provoking schedule of exhibitions and related events.
The board, as representatives of the community, need to exercise transparency in its dealings. Why, a year into a new contract and after having approved Mr. Graff’s five-year plan, did the board take the unusual step of conducting a confidential community evaluation? Why wasn’t Mr. Graff advised of this procedure and, once the results were assessed, given an opportunity to address any concerns raised? Terry Graff, has all the qualifications suggested by Mr. Knight. It’s too bad that the board didn’t appreciate what they had in Mr. Graff. Such callous treatment does nothing to enhance the Gallery’s reputation, quite the contrary.
In May of this year, I retired as Associate Curator of the Mendel, after some 31 years.