Philanthropist Michael Audain has given a massive boost to the multimillion dollar fundraising campaign for a new waterfront home for Presentation House Gallery with a $4 million dollar donation.

Reid Shier, PHG director, said the $4 million donation means the gallery has raised $8 million of the $15 million it needs to raise to build the new gallery at the foot of Lonsdale.

“It is transformational for the gallery,” Shier said in an interview.

“The momentum we have now is fantastic. We hope to be in construction next year and opening the doors in 2017.”

The official announcement of the donation is scheduled for this morning by the site of the new gallery in North Vancouver.

Shier explained that the $4 million is evenly divided between the Audain Foundation and Polygon Homes Ltd. Neil Crystal is president and CEO of Polygon; Audain is chairman.

“We’re immensely grateful to the generosity of Michael and Neil,” Shier said about the $4 million donation.

“It is 27 per cent of our total goal. It’s really amazing. We’re excited to move into the public phase of our campaign.”

Shier said the gallery decided earlier that when it moved into a new home, it would adopt a new name. When the ribbon is cut on the new building in three years, it will be known as the Polygon Gallery.

The new gallery will be 2,102 sq m (22,632 sq ft) in size. Patkau Architects have designed a building that includes a 371 sq m (4,000 sq ft) exhibition area on the second floor lit with natural light from a skylight atop a 4.8 m (16 foot) ceiling. It will also have a gallery retail shop and café intended to turn the gallery into a community gathering spot on the waterfront.

With $7 million still to raise, Shier said he’s confident he’ll be able to reach up to 80 per cent of the $15 million total by next year so that construction can start on the gallery’s new home on land owned by the City of North Vancouver.

Michael Audain has become one of the province’s major philanthropists.

Audain has publicly given through the Audain Foundation or by personal donation more than $40 million to B.C. and Canadian arts organizations. Major donations in the last few years include $5 million for the new campus of Emily Carr University and $5 million for the Audain Art Centre at the University of B.C.

That figure doesn’t include the $2 million the foundation is donating to Presentation House Gallery or the $2 million from Polygon Homes.

As well, it doesn’t include the $30 million Audain is spending to build the Audain Art Museum in Whistler. It’s expected to open next October. As an anchor artwork to exhibit for the museum, Audain paid $3.4 million to buy a major painting by Emily Carr called The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase.)

Source: Vancouver Sun

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