Gallery Gachet learned last week that after twenty-one years of receiving core funding from the Provincial Ministry of Health our contract with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is being severed, with ninety days notice. The financial cut amounts to half of the organization’s overall budget, and represents the majority of wage and operational resources.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
~ World Health Organization’s definition of Health
Most human and fiscal resources are concentrated in the formal mental health system, while informal caring networks, self-help groups, and community groups and agencies are strikingly under-resourced. What is needed is a redistribution of resources to provide more balanced support at the local level.
~ Canadian Mental Health Association
A press release issued by VCH on September 3rd indicates that contracts in the Downtown Eastside “without a strong health mandate” or who are offering “stand-alone services that lack formal connections to the health care system are unlikely to be renewed”. At a meeting with VCH on Wednesday, September 2nd, it was made clear that Gallery Gachet’s funding will not be renewed. The decision to remove funding from the Gallery Gachet, made by VCH management, cited the Society’s role as not fitting with the “clinical” services that will become the focus for the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The organization’s relationship to a health mandate, and/or to the health care system, was not addressed.
Gallery Gachet is a 23-year old, collectively-run society with genuinely peer-based participation in its programming through to its governance. In our largely drop-in, exhibition and studio space we manage public access annually to exhibitions related to mental health and education, in addition to providing workshops, talks, symposia, projects and other events for the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and within the broader mental health community. We facilitate a volunteer program that currently involves over fifty participants on a weekly basis. These volunteers include clients accessing Vancouver Community Mental Health Services, Therapeutic Volunteer Program (TVP). Many of our participants are on permanent disability assistance.
Gallery Gachet works in robust collaboration with a number of organizational partners to deliver free, low-barrier services. We amplify our community members’ voices and expression in wider mental health and art networks. Our mandate supports artistic development as a means to achieve social, cultural and economic justice and supports the wellness of, and the elimination of discrimination against, people marginalized by their mental health, trauma and/or abuse experience. We promote the critical function of art and culture in the building of a healthy society. Our space provides essential skills development, peer support, referrals, community engagement and a healthy, non-hierarchal environment that provides both alternative and preventative mental health care. We support each other’s engagement, analysis and capacity to provide feedback on an ongoing basis, to the conditions of that care.
For more information or to learn more about supporting the Gallery Gachet:
www.gachet.org | firstname.lastname@example.org | 604 687 2468
For media inquiries please contact:
Cecily Nicholson, Administrator 604 339 3234
Pierre Leichner, Collective Member 604 709 8612
Bruce Ray, Board of Directors 604 687 2468