The NDP Tourism and Culture Critic says Bill 56 changing The Rooms Act could seriously damage some of our most important cultural institutions. Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) says introducing the bill to the House of Assembly without consulting experts contravenes the existing legislation.
“None of the staff at The Rooms, including the directors, had any idea this legislation was being considered,” Rogers said today.
Bill 56 would include “removing the requirement for separate divisions and directors for the archives, museum and art gallery” – in other words, giving the Board and CEO the power to merge the three into one entity.
Rogers has received dozens of messages from archivists, administrators, artists, and others demanding answers to many questions, including whether such a merger would, for example, change the Class A1 Status of the provincial Art Gallery. Federal government and private funding bodies have specific grants criteria, often including gallery director, which this bill removes.
The new Rooms Act could have gone through its final legislative stage as early as this afternoon, but will now not be passed until at least next week. Rogers is hopeful this means that the minister is listening to the many knowledgeable people asking him to delay passing the bill until after he has consulted with the community.
“This government’s preference for holding consultations after they’ve made harmful decisions would be laughable if it wasn’t hurting so much of what makes our culture viable,” Rogers said.
“The Minister says he is open to meeting with arts groups. I would urge him to do this before he tries to pass this reckless legislation.”