The Alberta Branded gift shop in the Federal Building is closing down as the provincial government is making a number of cutbacks. The store features artists from across the province and gives them an opportunity to have their work on consignment.
Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Lianne Bell, said the gift shop hasn’t made any money since moving to the Federal Building five years ago.
“It has been moving about $300,000 a year, so in the past years it’s lost $1.1 million,” Bell said. “There has been under 90 (art) items sold in the gift shop.”
“All of the art is on consignment, so the art will be returned to them. The disappointing thing for everyone involved is while we are respectful and appreciate Alberta art, there wasn’t (enough) sales.”
Bell said they are looking to set up a kiosk that will sell souvenirs.
“Feedback has been overwhelmingly that people are looking for magnets, pins, mugs and we are looking at sourcing a kiosk-type space for that.”
There has been some pushback from the arts community.
Edmonton artist Karen Bishop has some of her work in the shop and feels that this is a real loss for Alberta artists.
In a Facebook post she said: “This space should not be treated as a business that doesn’t make money; instead it is a place that showcases some of the best talent Alberta has to offer. It offers visitors a chance to experience the vibrant culture of the arts in this province and lets people know that art is important in a healthy and thriving society.”
“Shutting it down says: the arts are not important, our talent is not worth recognizing and showcasing in our province’s capital.
“Once again, the arts is one of the first on the chopping block and it makes me mad.”
Alberta Branded gift shop will be closed in April and there will be a total of five positions eliminated.