Student-Led Campaign Saves Evergreen Gallery from Closure
By Zachary Newman
The Evergreen Gallery has been saved from closure, after students and community members organized a campaign to keep it open, despite budgetary concerns. The gallery no longer faces the proposed December 2015 closure date, but funding has only been ensured for the next two years.
“The good news is that the continuation of the gallery has been assured for the foreseeable future,” provost Michael Zimmerman wrote, in his post on Greener Commons. “By repurposing some existing funding and using some new sources of revenue, I have been able to sequester enough funding to ensure that the gallery remains an integral resource for exhibits and teaching on our campus through the end of the next biennium. The intent, obviously, is for the gallery to be as permanent a fixture on campus as any other operation,” he went on to say.
After the gallery’s closure was announced last December, students, faculty, alumni, and members of the community organized a campaign to save it. Evergreen student Zoe Kolln was one of the lead organizers of the campaign.
“It’s good news to hear the administration found enough money to fund it,” Kolln said. But she lamented the solution is not a permanent fix. “They said for at least the next two years, so it’s not super long term, but it’s a step forward.”
Since the college’s beginning, the gallery has been a feature of Evergreen, recently moving to its current location in the Library building, in 2009. The gallery has survived budgetary threats before. “In the past, the art faculty had to fight to get it funded, so this has happened before where it has been defunded,” Kolln explained.
The gallery shows pieces in Evergreen’s permanent collection, as well as international art exhibitions. It has displayed works from notable artists such as Diane Arbus, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. The gallery is also used to showcase work from Evergreen students, presented at the end of the school year as part of their senior thesis.
As Evergreen looked to tighten its dwindling budget, the gallery’s spot was removed from the operating budget last winter.
Petitions were formed to protect the gallery’s spot on the budget. A physical petition circulated campus, while another was hosted online, on the popular petition website change.org. Altogether, about 990 signatures were collected.
“I feel like we got a lot more than I thought we would,” Kolln said with a laugh.
The comment section of the online petition was also utilized by former students and supporters nationwide. “I graduated from Evergreen in 2002. I’m about to get my Masters degree in Fine Art this May from CalArts. The Evergreen Gallery has been very important to me and is so important to the education of your students and community,” Californian artist Joshua Petker wrote.
“I am an Evergreen alum (2000) and the Gallery is an important venue for student work,” read another. “It allows and encourages expression through symbolic and non-linear media, which is as important to the liberal arts education as academic writing and scientific calculations.”
It’s unclear how incoming president George Bridges will decide the gallery’s future, and where he’ll stand in two years. Kolln thinks Les Purce was more likely to prioritize the gallery. “He was really art-focused and art-centered, and he really appreciates the arts,” said Kolln.
Kolln is uncertain of how high of a priority the gallery is to Bridges. “I’m not sure how dedicated he is to the arts. I’m not sure what is understanding is about the importance of visual arts in a liberal arts institution.”
The Evergreen Gallery is located on the second floor of the Library Building, Room 2204, and is open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 to 5 p.m.