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Toronto’s Power Plant Board Sees Mass Exodus over Management Kerfuffle

Twenty-four of the twenty-seven members of the board of Toronto’s Power Plant contemporary art space submitted their resignations last week in protest of the institution’s management by the Harbourfront Centre, an affiliated nonprofit organization. In a resignation letter shared on social media, fifteen of the departing board members called out Harbourfront for attempting to unseat a dozen of the institution’s board members over the summer “and replace them with its own slate of directors from its own board or staff.” The authors of the letter noted, “This decision was made without consulting the Power Plant, nor was any compelling rationale provided.”

The letter writers—among them Indigenous artist Maria Hupfield and actor Richard Lee—contended that the targeted board members included six women and five people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color, and revealed that the Harbourfront Centre took legal action against the Power Plant. “Due to Harbourfront’s actions and our current impasse,” wrote the former board members, “we have concluded we can no longer fulfill our commitments and duties owed to the Power Plant’s stakeholders, including government stakeholders, funders, artists, the arts community at large and individual supporters of the Power Plant. The independent directors of the Power Plant have no choice but to resign because of the actions taken by Harbourfront.”

“These changes were made to ensure the appropriate governance structure to support the Power Plant’s director and address any operational needs,” said Harbourfront Centre CEO Marah Braye in a statement. “There were governance and operational concerns that were not being addressed by the Power Plant board. Despite repeated communications over the last year that were presented to the chair of the board, they continued to not be addressed. We therefore had to exercise our rights to ensure good governance.” Braye is one of the three people remaining on the Power Plant’s board.

“A number of Harbourfront Centre directors have been proposed to be added on an interim basis only to support while the search for new board members continues,” Braye asserted. “We are firmly focused on seeking new and independent board candidates for the Power Plant who represent the diversity, skill set and experience that has been at the heart of our mission for almost fifty years.”

“The Power Plant was fully meeting and addressing all of its obligations, including the governance and operational concerns expressed,” said departing board member Lee. “We were enjoying the highest level of success before Harbourfront took these actions.”

The Power Plant last month lost its longtime artistic director, Gaëtane Verna, who left after a decade to take on the role of executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University in Columbus.