AMS rents out art collection to fund arts and culture at UBC

If you’ve ever been in the Nest, you may have noticed the Hatch Art Gallery on the second floor. In the 1940s, Professor Hunter Lewis proposed decorating Brock Hall with artwork, intended to be an act of both display and preservation. In the ’50s, MacLean’s Magazine donated most of the pieces, which comprise the gallery’s permanent collection. 

Today, the permanent collection contains 72 works of art, including E.J. Hughes’ “Abandoned Village, River’s Inlet,” valued at $900,000. The collection was appraised towards the end of 2016 and according to this appraisal, it is worth approximately $4 million. 

Every other week, the Hatch Art Gallery holds student exhibitions. Some past participants include the UBC Pottery Club and the visual art department, as well as numerous individual artists, representing what AMS VP Administration Chris Scott called “a diverse range of opportunity.” Students submit their work via the gallery’s website during the previous summer, and then a selection process is held to choose which displays will go up.

The art rental program

Since the program’s inception in late 2016, the Hatch Art Gallery has rented out artwork from the permanent collection at a going rate of about one per cent of a piece’s insurance value per month. So far, the gallery has earned $2,000 from renting out artwork, primarily doing business with the Alumni Centre. But the program’s outreach has garnered a response rate from other art galleries of about 40 to 50 per cent, according to Scott — numbers that make him optimistic about the program’s growth. 

With more exposure and time, said Scott, “several of the pieces in the collection could be looking at collecting twenty, thirty thousand dollars a year.” This substantial amount “would most likely go into the Arts and Culture Endowment, or funding for the gallery, because the collection was donated in pursuit of promoting arts and culture on campus, and [the AMS] wants to be respectful of that intention,” he said.

Usually the permanent collection is stored in one of two vaults in the Nest — the outer vault houses less valuable works, while the inner vault is for the more expensive pieces — and displayed in the Hatch Art Gallery once a year. This year, the exhibition for the permanent collection was held in January.

When asked about whether the Hatch Art Gallery has achieved its goals of art dissemination and conservation, Scott said, “From what I can tell, we’re the only student society that has anything of this nature — so having a 72-piece collection with its value is a huge step. I’d say that we’re doing well and I’m happy that we have it.”