Durham Region art galleries dealing with COVID-19 closures

The exterior of the Station Gallery in Whitby. Photo credit: Station Gallery CEO Kerri King

Art galleries have been told to close and it affects their staff and potential exhibits after Premier Doug Ford announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses on March 25.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses considered ‘non-essential’ have been told to shut down and this includes Durham Region’s art galleries.

The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington (VAC), The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa and the Station Gallery in Whitby have all closed their doors.

“It’s having an enormous impact on the gallery right now, we today have just had to postpone all of our spring and summer programming for now in terms of our classes,” said Kerri King, CEO of Station Gallery.

King added the gallery is going to defer or postpone major fundraisers as well as have to lay off their staff. The number of exact layoffs is unknown.

The Station Art Gallery is considering some online programming by potentially hosting online talks or polling of art for future gallery exhibits.

“We do have virtual tours, which we’re putting together right now – we’re focusing on some art talks that we’ve done, our curator already has you know, some of that content,” said King.

Station Gallery CEO Kerri King
The Station Gallery in Whitby.

The Marketing Coordinator for the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, Áine Belton said, “we’ve had a day of team meetings about how we can best support our community (during) the pandemic.”

Currently, the VAC has had to postpone its exhibition programs, added Belton.

The galleries shut their doors as of March 14, expecting to be closed until April 5.

“Initially, we were put until April the fifth but I believe it’s going be much longer than that, given what’s going on in the world right now,” said King.

The closure of the galleries will affect the artist community which relied on classes, programming or even exhibits. The Station Gallery and the VAC both had to postpone new exhibits.

According to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery twitter feed, there have been no updates on future programming, however, they have been tweeting about fun things to do while quarantining.

“Obviously, our community looks to us for that inspiration and connectivity but I think the last couple of weeks have been just so surprising to see how things have developed so, so, so radically in Canada and around the world. So we’ve been just taking that in stride and looking at developing some trends,” said King.