Green light from government is ‘just the first step’ for businesses allowed to reopen in Phase 4.2

The John M. Cuelenaere Public Library. (Herald file photo)

The government has given the go ahead for galleries, museums, theatres and libraries to reopen on Monday, but some in Prince Albert will remain shuttered for the time being.

The announcement does, however, allow some businesses in these sectors to start planning for the summer.

“I was just on the edge of my seat as we were hoping that things would be announced last week,” said Lana Wilson, the Mann Art Gallery’s acting director and curator.

“We have some contingency plans. We just need to know which one to start, which one to put into action,” she explained, “because for us and for a lot of museums and galleries, being given the go ahead by the government is just the first step and we have a couple of other steps that we still need to put into place before we can actually reopen.”

Wilson said that other galleries may be able to open their doors sooner if they were in the middle of an exhibition at the time of temporarily closing.

In mid-March, the Mann Art Gallery was at the tail end of its Winter Festival Art Show & Sale. It took four weeks for all of the artists, who came in one-by-one, to safely pick up their works.

Now that the reopening date has been announced, staff are able to decipher what summer exhibitions will be feasible to carry out.

Wilson wasn’t sure if any would be moving forward, but one of the three they planned will be hitting the gallery. It’s called Migrations, and features sculptures, paintings and audio by three different artists.

“I’ve spoke to the artists and they were really keen to go ahead because, in fact, the theme of their exhibition talks about migration, movement and spread,” explained Wilson, emphasizing how fitting the theme is for the current pandemic.

She said the gallery will also be moving forward with an outdoor installation this summer, but staff haven’t locked down enough details to speak publicly about the project.

The decision of when to reopen doesn’t just involve the Mann Art Gallery as an organization. Because it’s located in the E.A. Rawlinson Centre—a city-owned facility—city officials will be working with them on guidelines for opening their doors.

The same applies to the Rawlinson Centre and museums.

In a Thursday news release, the City of Prince Albert said it will provide an update on spray parks, the Alfred Jenkins Field House, Prince Albert Arts Centre, museums and the Rawlinson Centre next week.

On Facebook, the On The Avenue Artisan’s Gallery said it will be reopening on Tuesday.

While the John M. Cuelenaere Library is allowed to reopen in the next few days, it also will not be opening its doors because it’s in the middle of renovations.

“We had a plan to shut down this summer to do a renovation before the pandemic,” said Library Director Alex Juorio.

“There’s still a few weeks before we can even think about doing any kind of service.”

Renovations including replacing the flooring, ceiling tiles and shelving units.

Because most of its physical material is stored in boxes, the library is not currently offering curbside pickup.

Juorio said the library is aiming to reopen in August. But, depending on the state of the renovations, they may solely be offering curbside pickup at that time.

He emphasized that the library hasn’t entered a full closure throughout the pandemic, though, because of its electronic collection.

“Throughout the entire pandemic, we’ve been adding a lot of material to our electronic collection, so you can still download a video, stream it, you can still download music and listen to it, you can still stream music, you can look at ebooks, at audiobooks, you can look at comic books and graphic novels,” he said.

Juorio added having a later reopening date will be positive for the library because it can follow measures from other libraries, including how to keep the public computer area as clean as possible.

“We’re just trying to make the best of a bad situation,” he said, adding that he’s been getting a lot of questions from the public about when the library will be opening up.

“You can tell we’re a valued service and people miss us.”