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Artwork removed from Delta Hospital following Fraser Health policy change
The walls where colourful paintings once hung in Delta Hospital are now bare, following an organization-wide policy change by Fraser Health regarding art.
Lorna Wladichuk of the South Delta Artists Guild said she helped remove about 25 paintings last week with fellow guild member Barb McCurdy.
She said hospital visitors and residents have asked her when the paintings will return but she's had to tell them she doesn't know.
"I know that I was upset, and so were a lot of other people, that we were taking the paintings down," she said.
The change is based on a new policy from Fraser Health, approved in February and introduced to the Delta Hospital Auxiliary in August.
Lea Price, another member of the guild, said she has obtained the nine page document from Fraser Health explaining the new policy.
One of the new rules reads, "Artwork on display in public and patient care areas must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate committee and must meet the Fraser Health Authority artwork content guidelines."
Price said that artwork will now be accepted only if they can be sold following a period of display with the proceeds going toward the hospital foundation. She said it's unfortunate that it can't be there merely for therapeutic purposes.
"I've been a patient there quite a few times, walking up and down the aisles because there's literally nothing else you can do, it just makes you feel a little better," she said.
An informal agreement between the Delta Hospital Auxiliary and the guild has been in place for more than 15 years.
The paintings that are for sale offer 10 per cent of the proceeds to the auxiliary, five per cent to the guild, and the rest to the artist.
McCurdy said the auxiliary spends a lot of money on the care and comfort of patients, families, caregivers and staff and considers the display of artwork as being therapeutic to all. She said art has a place in patient therapy, as does music, which is also sponsored by the auxiliary.
Volunteers from the guild typically change the displays every three to four months and are responsible for the general care and cleanliness of the work. According to the new policy, artwork will now have to be displayed behind glass, to protect against the transmission of disease.
"The community of Delta, which includes all of its artists, has a sense of ownership in its hospital," said McCurdy. "They built it, fought to keep it open, support it financially and are reluctant to transfer benefits to the health authority when it comes to community issues that do not involve actual health care."
McCurdy said appreciation, not monetary reward, has been the greatest reward artists receive for displaying the works.
"This is the viewer’s loss and will not be replaced by five or so paintings behind glass that the committee feels will 'enhance the therapeutic environment,'" she said.
Tasleem Juma, a spokesperson for Fraser Health, said she understands the artwork has always been a source of pride for the artists, auxiliary, and hospital.
"The objective remains the same–to maintain that relationship of co-creating an environment that is aesthetically pleasing but also therapeutic within the hospital," she said.
Juma said there will be discussions between the hospital and artists guild to work out which paintings will return.
"The goal is to maintain the relationship while respecting the new policy that the hospital also has to take into consideration," she said. "So, it's finding a balance between the two."
But McCurdy isn't sure that will happen. Since the criteria includes that artwork must be juried by a committee, approved as appropriate, covered in glass, must be for sale or donated, she said the terms may be too onerous for the guild.
"If artists wish to comply with the new terms on an individual basis they are free to do so and can be supplied with the new guidelines," she said.