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Remai Modern outgoing chair describes ‘difficult’ relationship with city

WATCH ABOVE: Outgoing Remai Modern board chair Scott Verity says there was “criticism and doubt” and a challenging relationship with the City of Saskatoon.

Outgoing Remai Modern board chair Scott Verity took to Twitter on Sunday to describe circumstances he said led up to three formal complaints and a Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission investigation.

In his five-part statement, Verity said the art gallery’s employees and board were successful “in spite of criticism and doubt and a confusing and difficult governance relationship with the City of Saskatoon.”

READ MORE: Remai Modern executive director and CEO Gregory Burke resigning

Challenges and stress leading up to the Remai launch affected employees and contributed to conflict in the workplace, according to Verity.

“In all cases, we listened and responded to concerns whenever they were raised,” he said.

There were three formal complaints, which the outgoing chair said were investigated by independent third parties, Verity stated.

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“The claims were not substantiated,” he said.

Scott Verity speaks to media at city hall in January 2017.
Scott Verity speaks to media at city hall in January 2017. File / Global News

He didn’t describe the nature of the complaints or that of a complaint Verity said was filed with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

The result of the human rights complaint is pending, according to the statement.

Verity also noted numerous measures undertaken since April 2016 to support employees and foster a healthy workplace.

The revelation comes two weeks after city council voted unanimously to appoint five new board members to the Remai’s 12-person board.

READ MORE: Remai Modern exceeds own expectations 1st year

Only five of the previous 12 board members continued in the role – two of whom are city councillors.

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Alison Norlen, secretary of the board, said she was not reappointed, while five others resigned or didn’t seek another term.

On Monday, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark wouldn’t confirm whether the workplace complaints were connected to the turnover on the board.

Clark stated the board is responsible for the gallery’s day-to-day operations, but after concerns came up, city council directed city staff to work with board members.

“The city and city council takes very seriously the integrity of the governance process and I take very seriously the integrity of that process,” Clark said.

Remai Modern executive director and CEO Gregory Burke announced plans to resign in December.

-With files from Global’s Rebekah Lesko