Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Comment: Bateman Gallery a key cultural attraction

The Bateman Gallery is a non-profit gallery that serves as a reminder to connect and protect our natural beauty.
A couple looks at Everglades by Robert Bateman at the Robert Bateman Gallery. As the gallery prepares to find a new location, the chairman of the Bateman Foundation says the move could be the start of a re-energizing of the region’s cultural community. TIMES COLONIST

A commentary by the chairman of the Bateman Foundation.

The decision by our ­organization to end our tenancy at the ­Steamship Building is with very mixed emotions.

It has been a fitting place to house the exclusive collection of original and rare artworks of Robert Bateman and a welcoming beacon to share a space with other devoted nature artists for the past 10 years.

When the Bateman family decided to share Robert’s art and philosophies with the public, they always thought the Steamship Terminal was the right place to launch a gallery and foundation.

It overlooked our ­beautiful Inner Harbour and allowed the local community and visiting tourists to enjoy a glimpse of nature on the walls and through the windows.

Now that it has come time to say goodbye to our home, I’m compelled to reflect on all the exhibits we’ve showcased that helped build a relationship with nature through the art we displayed. I am incredibly proud of the diverse exhibitions we’ve shared with the world and for giving space to nurture nature-focused artists and curators.

It has been an uphill battle for the public perception that the Bateman Gallery is a private gallery. On the contrary, the Bateman Gallery is a non-profit gallery that emboldens our arts and culture community and serves as a strong reminder to connect and protect our natural beauty.

All the proceeds from the gallery to the merchandise and prints in our shop 100 per cent support the Bateman Foundation to keep delivering quality exhibitions and a specialized nature and art education program, NatureSketch, and supporting art and nature conservation organizations across the country.

We reached out to our friends at the Maritime Museum of B.C. for two reasons. One is that there needs to be more collaboration and resource-sharing in our art and museum sector.

We are in a position to ­support them to get a foothold at the Steamship building. We’re happy to uplift another cultural ­institution because it means we’re creating a better and more vibrant city for all.

At the same time, our ­organization is looking at the next steps and believes a shift in location will re-energize the city.

Both our levels of ­government (provincial and municipal) and the tourism sector need to come together to support the unique needs of our city. We need to provide cultural hubs that proudly represent the ­distinct beauty, values, and diverse offerings our citizens would be proud to call their own and share with international visitors — enticing them to stay longer and return. The cultural ­institutions in the region are a valuable part of the social fabric of our ­communities. There need to be more financial support ­strategies like rent subsidies to protect them.

On behalf of non-profit ­organizations hit hard by the pandemic and the slow recovery in one of the most expensive ­cities in Canada, I urge the ­community to come together. We must invest in a thriving ­community and a robust cultural sector, which is the canary in the cave.

It takes a healthy ecosystem to sustain our arts and culture establishments. Throughout the years, we have been fortunate to have been embraced by the community and receive ­support from sponsors, members, donors and community granting ­agencies.

I can’t overstate our gratitude to the Victoria Foundation for supporting us and so many organizations. Our unique local media has played a vital part in cultivating support and uplifting culture. Every Christmas and New Year, it’s always a treat to see one of Robert Bateman’s extraordinary pieces shared with the city in the Times Colonist.

With our transition, we will need this support more than ever.

Please donate or inquire about partnerships to help keep ­pushing the needle of culture in our city. We also need your voice — advocate for us through your government representatives.

Thank you, Victoria, for the 10 years. Now, let’s make sure that the next 10 years leave a true mark of celebrating art and nature.

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor:

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks