Is the AGB thinking about getting into bed with Brock University? They are certainly talking.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 17th, 2016



Are there some really big changes in the wind for the Art Gallery of Burlington?

The city has always wanted a major academic institution in the downtown core. At one point it looked as if McMaster was going to have a structure on what is now the Elizabeth Street parking lot but that didn’t work out the way the city wanted it to – McMaster got a better offer for land on the South Service Road so a progressive university set up shop beside a field where someone is growing hay that they really don’ harvest.


Brock University has been around for 50 years and has been spreading its wings – with facilities in Hamilton and an apparent interest in taking up lodgings in Burlington.

Turns out that Brock University, headquartered in St. Catharines, has been sniffing around the Art Gallery of Burlington to see if some kind of a deal can be put together.

An informed source says the talks haven’t been going all that well – and that the problem is with the Burlington side of the negotiating table.

No one at Brock wants to say anything at this time.

The AGB spent a couple of hours Wednesday evening take a small audience through a Strategic Plan exercise that had all the right buzz words in it: Inclusive; Inspiring; Encouraging; Engaging; Collaborative and Respectful.

Those and the right Gift Card will get you a cup of coffee.

There is a Draft Strategy that is based on three pillars- the Gazette will report on these later.

One of the objectives appear to be having hands-on activities always being available for walk in visitors – a challenge and not something the clubby Guilds are likely to welcome.

Robert Steven AGB

AGB president Robert Steven.

AGB president Robert Steven has to be credited with boosting donations somewhat but the place has a long way to go to raise the funds needed for the Art Gallery program wish list.

Getting into bed with a university would certainly juice up the place – but it doesn’t look as if there is going to be anything to announce in the near future – other than – there have been talks.

Picking up this news from the “grapevine” however is not the smartest way for the AGB to get the news out. The objective is to get in front of the parade and lead the band wagon so people can jump on.

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4 comments to Is the AGB thinking about getting into bed with Brock University? They are certainly talking.

  • […] to paraphrase current Walker Director David Vivian, in the Burlington Gazette, that suggests that further machinations are in play, or that more is happening behind the scenes. It’s been pointed out – quite correctly – that this “conversation” between […]

  • tenni

    Thank you for the correction as to the 7 more years left in the Brock University and Rodman. I have a connection to Rodman myself and am paying close attention to the sad condition that Rodman has found itself. I hope that Rodman is maintained as the community jewel that it is but at a rumoured $600,000 per year Brock can not really afford to keep it. Efforts were made to expand Rodman over the years and I was on the Board when the gardens were being developed.

    Recently, Robert Stevens ED of AGB sent out a message to state that no agreement has been made between Burlington and Brock for the AGB site which is owned by Burlington(like Rodman site was at one time). One can only guess how disruptive storing AGB ceramic collection etc. for any rebuilding of the site to also include some goals that Brock may have for the Lakeshore site. As a graduate of Brock it disturbs me that Brock finds itself in the negative situation. I know that the St. Catharines art community is not pleased. That is why I am warning Burlington of rumoured changes.

  • E J Hayden

    Thank you for your comments tenni.
    JUst a factual correction though. Brock has only 7 years left on its agreement with Rodman Hall and its future is in question.
    THe new Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts does have a small gallery space, but Rodman Hall Art Centre continues to provide valuable gallery, studio and meeting space to visual art students and teachers. Rodman Hall also serves the larger community with art shows of national and international significance, maintence and tours of the historic building, as well as fpublic gardens and trails in a prime location overlooking Twelve Mile Creek and the downtown.

    BRock University recently hired a consultant to go through the motions of public consultation which was widely recognized as a charade. The community is not impressed. Many people worked very hard for many years to create Rodman Hall Art Centre as it is today. They will not stand by quietly and allow the University to divest them of one of the city’s true gems.
    #save Rodman hall

  • tenni

    Once upon a time there was a community public gallery called Rodman Hall Arts Centre in St. Catharines. The gallery gathered a collection over time that showed the art history of St. Catharines region as well as international art. After the death of Peter Harris who gave his live to Rodman as its Executive Director, Rodman began to lose its focus after a series of ED.

    Brock stepped forward and for $2 purchased the land,gardens, mansion and art collection. There was an agreement that Brock would maintain the space and collection. Several prof’s got to exhibit at Rodman as well as others. There is 17 years left in that agreement and Brock wants out. Brock now has a lovely downtown gallery and performance centre. Brock seems to want to move on. Rumours of selling the building, garden and land to maybe a developer.

    AGB and Burlington should be aware of Brock’s history when it come to community arts agreements.