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$1M donation being made to the art gallery

"Moving and profound," says the art gallery's executive director on a million dollar donation for the new waterfront location.

THUNDER BAY — A large donation from the Paterson Foundation is being made to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. 

The Paterson Foundation announced on Tuesday that it is donating an additional million dollars to the art gallery. 

Alexander Paterson, the president of the foundation, spoke about why the foundation wanted to make the donation. 

"Our commitment to the community and recognizing that our waterfront is a place like building a baseball field in a farm field in Iowa, if you build it, they'll come. That's what's happening at our waterfront right now."

The gallery's executive director, Matthew Hills, discussed how this contribution will help build the new location. 

"It's moving and profound to hear Alexander's words about his family and the generational relationship they've had to the gallery. 

Hills described how transformative that relationship has been over the art gallery's history.

"To see that realized with a gift that will help us with our future is just profoundly moving and exciting."

Hills gave an update on the $5M fundraising campaign that the art gallery launched last September. 

"This gift from the Paterson Foundation of a million dollars is going towards that campaign. So with the gift, we're at $1.5 [million] . . . overall.

"We're at a point now where we're asking the community to contribute and to step up and get this over the finish line. It's going extremely well, but we do need that support and we do need to be out there asking in the community. 

"So we're grateful for the significant support we've received already, but it's an ongoing effort."

It was last reported that costs for building the new gallery were at $57 million. The executive director was asked if there was an updated cost available. 

"Well, we are pursuing a construction management process on an ongoing basis and that means that tenders we are seeking value efficiencies and value in the tender and construction process."

In a request to confirm the current cost to build, the gallery said going the route of a construction management process creates uncertainty.

"The construction management model involves reassessing market conditions at various points in the build, and obtaining updated pricing from suppliers and subcontractors, revising specifications as necessary."

He called it an "ongoing evolving process" and said that the gallery has identified some "significant savings."

"At the same time, you also see increased construction costs and supply chain issues - they still continue to be along with inflation.

"So we are balancing, and we are being extremely rigorous in budget management and finding value."

Hills noted the gallery is also doing an economic impact study. 

"It's a study to better understand how the Thunder Bay Art Gallery contributes to the provincial and local economy. And we're using those numbers to better understand our overall budget increase as we get into the new space."

He called the gallery's new location a game changer. 

"The new building is a serious destination at our waterfront - it is going to be an architectural jewel.

"But it's also something that the whole community can use and that will contribute significantly to our economy, to our quality of life in Thunder Bay and will be a shared resource for everyone to use and that will contribute significantly."

Hills is confident the new space will open in early 2026, citing that the building is more than 20 percent complete. 

Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Katie Nicholls, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Originally from central Ontario, Katie moved here to further her career in the media industry.
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