Story by Katherine Ryalen
As everyone who loves Station Gallery knows, we are a free public gallery. We do not charge admission at the door to our regular exhibitions. This is because we want as many people as possible to have access to the works that our artists create and the talent they have to share with the world. But being free brings its own set of challenges, the most significant of which is (naturally) financial. Our SG staff work tirelessly to secure the funding we need to deliver our exhibitions, programs and events year after year. So, when our members and friends go above and beyond to donate to us, we can’t begin to tell you how moved we are by their generosity.
Today on our blog, we want to spotlight one of our members and his most recent donation to our school program. At a time in our province’s history when the future of arts education in the public school curriculum is so uncertain, having places like Station Gallery continue to offer an avenue for children to learn, grow and create is imperative. After all, in all its forms art is an expression of our understanding of the world, of each other and most importantly of ourselves.
Those who are familiar with Station Gallery’s many offerings know that we take pride in our youth classes, summer camps and school programs, and take a non-traditional approach to expose children to art. For us, art is not something to be taught and appreciated at arm’s length. We don’t stop at a theoretical understanding of concepts, historical movements or artists. Our approach is hands-on and multi-dimensional. We believe that art is as diverse as the process by which it is created. This requires imagination, individuality, and even life skills like problem-solving and teamwork. Our approach, in effect, teaches children how to function in and interpret the wider world around them.
This is why donations from our valued members is so important—members like Paul Rolland. Paul has been involved with Station Gallery for 38 years. Though his professional background is in the pharmaceutical industry and medical science, art has been a part of his life since he was young. “I lived in Europe for a time,” he explains, “and was introduced to art as a child. I’ve always been interested in art. It’s in my genes, I guess you could say.”
The uncertainty of the arts in today’s public school system is why Paul sees an urgency in the need to safeguard children’s access to arts education. He has regularly donated to the gallery over the years, but until recently, his donations were not for any specific purpose. That changed when he attended our annual general meeting last year. “Somebody spoke about Station Gallery’s summer camps at the AGM,” he says. “They talked about disenfranchised students and children who do not have the money to attend things like summer camps. After talking to Kerri King more about the camps and about the school program, I decided then and there I knew what my money was going to go towards.”
For Paul Rolland, art is a holistic experience, and it is one he likens to his background in medical science. As he points out, a doctor cannot simply treat a heart or a kidney. He or she has to approach the body as a whole. So it is with art. “You can’t just look at paintings,” he explains. “Art is cinematography. It’s theatre and painting and sculpture and music. It’s unbelievable how much is encompassed by art.”
We are so pleased that, with Paul’s generous donation, children can continue to receive exposure to art. What would the world be like if kids were never allowed to create and explore new environments and thoughts? With offerings like Station Gallery’s school program, we’re ensuring that they will always have an avenue to be creative and to keep art alive within them.
On behalf of all of us at Station Gallery—thank you, Paul Rolland. And thank you to all of our members, sponsors and donors who make it possible to continue to do what we do. We are grateful for you every day.