North Space gallery struggles for visitors

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Brett McGarry
Arts and Entertainment Reporter

A dozen people often line up at the Starbucks at the Humber Learning Resource Commons at a time, checking phones or staring blankly into a caffeine deprived morning.

But next door the Humber North Space Gallery is empty and quiet.

The gallery has had little success since its opening in early 2016. Anyone who walks through the front of the LRC regularly knows it is no mystery that North Space does not see a lot of foot traffic.

“On average we’ll see maybe 10 people in a day come in and actually interact with the exhibit,” gallery assistant at North Space Boris Shapovalov said.

Since the opening there have been exhibits at North Space from a variety of programs including Nursing, Multimedia Communications, Multimedia Design and some special exhibits set up by various student centres.

A few of Humber North’s most recognizable creative programs have been visibly absent: Creative Photography and Film and Television studies, among others.

Final year Photography students Keegan Southall and Sebastian Fornari say their program’s work is shown elsewhere.

“Our program’s work is all displayed in the basement of the L building and I don’t think most students even know this basement exists,” said Southall.“We only really get to see each other’s work, it’s insolated. We don’t get to see the joy our work could bring to (other) students or anyone else,” said Fornari.“At the end of the year, though, we get our final work displayed at Twist Gallery downtown Toronto, which is still pretty great,” Southall said.

This process is also similar for film students, whose final-year work is showcased in a theatre rented in the heart of the city.

For these reasons, some feel the exhibition needs of their program have already been met.

Ashley Watson, head curator and only full time staff member working for Humber Galleries, develops and introduces exhibits while dealing with the administrative work.

“We’re a creative space for the whole campus and not a ‘student run’ gallery,” Watson said. “The gallery is run through an application process and is filled out by department heads and program coordinators.

“If a program does not fill out a form, we’re not going to track them down and suss them out because we want everyone to have a fair chance to be in the space,” she said.

Watson and other members of Humber Gallery staff have their eyes set on the future and moving forward with improving the space and the number of people who visit.

“This is really phase one, we’re going into next year working on research and development and engaging with stakeholders to improve for next year,” Watson said. “Sometimes it is a slow moving process because we are a really small staff. We’ve been thinking about it on a daily basis.

“At the end of the day we are here for the students and student learning and we want to make sure all the pieces are in place so we do this properly,” she said.

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