Thousands of people walked past Eli Bornstein’s “Structuralist Relief in 15 Pieces” when it hung in the old airport terminal and this summer many pedestrians will walk past it again — once it is installed on the exterior of Max Bell Centre at the University of Manitoba.
But installing the art will cost $110,000 and the university is trying to raise the funds by appealing to outside sources.
The federal government owns the artwork, which is being made available to the U of M at no charge.
John Alho, associate vice-president external at the U of M, said the university is “more than happy to take the artwork [ . . . ] because it’s a piece of Winnipeg’s heritage.”
Alho said the university is willing to put some money into the installation but their operating budget is “tight” so they want to use other available resources to support the cost.
“Because of the overall cost of mounting the art, we thought it would be a good opportunity to reach out to the broader community and seek some support and assistance from [them],” said Alho.
Alho said the university is asking for money from the Winnipeg Airport Authority, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Winnipeg Foundation.
According to Alho, Winnipeg Airport has said they will donate at least $25,000 for the art’s installation.
Alho said the university intends to put the art up in the summer and would like to have all outside contributions identified by spring.
Alho said if the university does not get the funds it asks for it could delay the installation of the artwork.
The university is also asking for $10,000 from the city.
City administrators voted against the request. They said it does not make a significant contribution to the larger community and they do not consider the university a non-profit organization.
But city’s executive policy committee (EPC) voted to meet the request. Councillors Jeff Browaty, Justin Swandel, Russ Wyatt, and Dan Vandal voted in favour of the request while Mayor Sam Katz, Councillors Paula Havixbeck and Scott Fielding voted against it.
Alho said the university requested funds from the city because they are installing public art that will be available for the community as a whole and not just the university.
Alho said he is “surprised and somewhat disappointed” about the debate over the funds in city council.
Councillor Scott Fielding said he voted against the request at EPC and he intends to vote against it when it comes before city council next week.
Fielding said the city is facing a tough time with finances and he thought $10,000 was too much to spend on the request.
“From a city point of view, I’m not sure what the tax payers would get out of it,” Fielding said.
Fielding said the university applied for a community incentive grant but their request didn’t fit the grant’s criteria.
Councillor Jeff Browaty said the U of M falls under the St Norbert ward of the city and so their request went to Councillor Justin Swandel who voted in favour of granting the request.
Browaty said he thinks it is a reasonable request for the area councillor to accept.
“I really do question that [city administrators] don’t consider the U of M a community or a charitable organization. In my mind the U of M is not a profit entity,” said Browaty.
The university’s request will be brought to city council Wednesday Jan. 25 and needs a two thirds vote to pass.