Board Members Of Toronto Museum Resign En Masse In Dispute Over Management Issues

The Power Plant, a leading contemporary art space on Toronto’s waterfront, has lost nearly its entire board of directors, with 24 out of 27 of its members resigning en masse. The members who resigned did so due to objections to the institution’s management by an affiliated nonprofit organization, the Harbourfront Centre, and have called for the institution to be held “accountable.”

The news, which was first reported by the Art Newspaper, comes less than a month after the Power Plant’s director and artistic director, Gaëtane Verna, departed to lead the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University. Verna had been director at the Power Plant for ten years.

In a resignation letter that has circulated on social media, 15 board members, including the Indigenous artist Maria Hupfield (Anishinaabe-kwe of Wasauksing First Nation) and actor Richard Lee, detailed their claims, specifically against the Harbourfront Centre, a separate nonprofit that appoints around half of the Power Plant’s board and manages the site of the contemporary art space’s current location.

The letter reads, “Due to Harbourfront’s actions and our current impasse, we have concluded we can no longer fulfill our commitments and duties owed to the Power Plant’s stakeholders, including government stakeholders, funders, artists, the arts community at large and individual supporters of the Power Plant. The independent directors of the Power Plant have no choice but to resign because of the actions taken by Harbourfront.”

According to the letter by the resigning board members, on June 2, shortly after the Power Plant hosted its 35th-anniversary gala, the Harbourfront Centre sought to terminate 12 of the Power Plant’s board members “and replace them with its own slate of directors from its own board or staff. This decision was made without consulting the Power Plant, nor was any compelling rationale provided.”

Those 12 board members included six women and five people who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color, according to the letter. The letter adds that the Harbourfront Centre subsequently took legal action against the Power Plant, which had a budget of around CAD$3.3 million in 2021, according to its most recent annual report.

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