Join AGO Workers in Calling For Good, Full-Time Jobs

After spending $276 million dollars on a Frank Gehry-designed expansion in 2009, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) laid off 29 workers.  This year the jobs of 39 additional workers are threatened.  Meanwhile increasing numbers of AGO employees are hired on a part-time or casual basis.  According to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the union that represents AGO employees, in 2005 the gallery had 136 full-time and 159 part-time staff. Today there are 177 full-time staff and the number of part-time staff has grown to 266. Toronto’s biggest booster of the virtues of creative employment (which often ends up being casual or part-time), Richard Florida, is appointed by the Province of Ontario to serve on the Board of the AGO.

AGO workers will be in a legal strike position on May 21, 2010.  Join these workers at a rally in front of the AGO on May 19 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Find more information here:

One response to “Join AGO Workers in Calling For Good, Full-Time Jobs

  1. Larry Rothfield

    This is a bit incoherent. First, I am told that funding decisions for the
    AGO and ROM were made back in the late 90’s, before anybody in Ontario
    had ever heard of Florida. They did not spend that money in 2009, but
    rather the renovations were completed then. The decisions were made not
    by the city but by the Province, in particular by the (conservative)
    Premier Mike Harris. The particular decisions to use starchitects were
    driven by the officials in the museums, but also lots of community

    Second, one could argue that the recent job losses and expansion of parttime employment reflect the economic downturn rather than a Floridian policy, and that without the gigantic investment of $276 million full-time and part-time both would not have grown over the past five years, as they have according to your figures. The real question is whether the $276 million could have been spent in a way that would have produced more full-time and better-secured jobs, if it had been invested otherwise. It might have been spent helping other big businesses that employ unionized workers, or in promoting smaller-scale enterprises, cultural or non-cultural. The latter probably directly create more jobs per buck but are less secure. Florida has argued in the past that the focus should be on street-level amenities rather than mega-projects; his serving on the board certainly points in a different direction, but he might argue that he is serving now to be in a position to help move AGO in a different direction.

    Of course, the $276 million might have been spent on creating better schools, safer neighborhoods, better transportation, all of which might down the road also help create better jobs. The advantage of cultural investment, especially in local, small-scale culture that builds on the cultural resources of communities, is that it can, in principle, also create jobs indirectly.

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