"I Killed the Neighbourhood Gallery!"
A pioneering local arts establishment is being forced out of business by one crusty neighbour. Rather than supporting and encouraging the kind of enterprise that brings life and vitality to a burgeoning community, the City has bowed to pressure from one vocal individual who just doesn't get it.
Patrick John Mills walked the fine line between having a home-based business and being an art-lover who graciously welcomed the public into his home. This caused quite the controversy with some of his neighbours (possibly even simply one!) who repeatedly complained about nearly everything he did since he opened his gallery at 286 Hinchey Ave. in Hintonburg five years ago.
This video below is short, and shows what takes place at a typical art party in Patrick's home.
Complaints were made about his promotional posters, cars being parked on the street, and monthly art parties. These were directed to all kinds of governmental bodies and finally, after years of being in the clear, it was decided that to carry on in the same manner would require re-zoning his property. This is a very cost-prohibitive option and to change the business model to avoid re-zoning would essentially kill the business entirely.
I was hard-pressed to find any person actually openly complaining about Patrick John Mills or the events at his Gallery/home. I was surprised because I not only asked real-live people but I searched the Internet too ... and you know that if there is a complaint to be made, it’s online! In fact, my sleuthing turned up nothing but enthusiasm and appreciation for what he has been offering the community for years: an environment where people from all walks of life come together to celebrate and learn and create art. But all it takes is one person to complain with enough vigour and so a few days ago, the decision from the City of Ottawa has caused the closing of the gallery.
What does this mean? Patrick loses his source of income and thus, possibly his home. Local artists will have less opportunity to show and sell their work. Enthusiasts and explorers will be stymied in their attempts to see and touch and breathe and hear and live art. The community will lose an aspect of its richness.
All this loss... for what? To ease the prickly soul of likely one person who so intensely dislikes something Patrick is doing that they feel they have the right to take away that opportunity to enjoy that unique and welcoming space from all of us?
That’s pretty bullshit if you ask me. You didn’t, but you’re reading this and that’s kind of like asking me... indirectly and after the fact of me having already published my opinion... Moving on.
Patrick is currently looking to move his gallery to a new space. There is no appeal system to the City of Ottawa and thus he is forced to move on. In his own words, from his letter to Paul Dewar published on his site:
“I would like to make an Arts Centre.
I would like to purchase a church, a building, a proper space. I greatly welcome some advice, talks, knowledge, insight, guidance, resources, assistance in helping me in my life. I promise your time, your help, your love for the Arts will be greatly appreciated.”
To find a list of people to contact about this issue, check out the entry “We are Artists” on the gallery blog. If you can help out in any other way, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Patrick himself.
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