New St. Paul’s Hospital receives $4 million donation for public art

A $4 million donation from the Audain Foundation means public art by Indigenous people will be part of the new St. Paul’s Hospital

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Indigenous art by the first peoples of Metro Vancouver is expected to be part of a major public art program at the new St. Paul’s Hospital.

The program is made possible by a $4 million donation by the Audain Foundation, one of B.C.’s top philanthropic organizations.

Michael Audain, chair of the board of the foundation, said Wednesday that he supports art in public places because art has a role to play outside of art museums and the homes of art patrons.

“Art is probably best when it can be viewed free of charge at any time by the public,” Audain said.

St. Paul’s said in a news release that its public art program will be developed with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh, “as well as informed by Indigenous patients and urban Indigenous peoples.”

Audain and his wife Yoshi Karasawa think the donation will help integrate Indigenous art into the new hospital project.

“We like the idea that the hospital wants to focus on Northwest coast art because they serve a great many Indigenous people,” Audain said.

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“I think it would be great when Indigenous people come to the hospital if there is some art by their leading artists that they recognize and makes them feel more like home.”

Helping with the hospital’s public art program is Daina Augaitis who is on the board of the Audain Foundation. Augaitis worked at the Vancouver Art Gallery for 20 years as the associate director and chief curator.

“I’m certainly going to leave it up to her to work with the hospital to determine the program,” Audain said.

The donation creates what is described as the biggest public art project of its kind at a health care site in the country.

The new St. Paul’s Hospital at the Jim Pattison Medical Centre is located on a 7.4 ha (18.4-acre) site in east Vancouver’s False Creek Flats. The hospital at 1002 Station Street will be part of a complex of buildings dedicated to health care, life sciences, research, technology, and innovation.

Construction on the project which has increased to almost $2.2 billion is expected to be completed in 2026 with the new hospital ready for patients in 2027.

Broek Bosma, chief development officer for the St. Paul’s Foundation he expects the project will start working with a public art consultant within six months.

He said the project’s public art committee will be looking not just at the hospital but at the whole site.

“My guess is that it will be multiple pieces throughout the campus that will really bring it alive,” he said.

St. Paul’s said in a news release that public art at the new hospital site “is expected to reflect Providence Health Care’s mission of service to all, its inclusive Catholic identity, and specifically its commitment to reconciliation.”

Bosma said with the Audain Foundation gift, St. Paul’s has raised more than $200 million toward its goal of $225 million.

He said now the foundation is looking to raise even more money for other buildings on the site such as a research centre. An announcement is expected soon on a second fundraising phase of more than $100 million.

“We’re so grateful to our donors and to Michael for this amazing and transformative gift,” Bosma said.

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

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