Because the Victoria Hall Volunteers didn’t like the picture of Marie Dressler in their meeting place, the Mayor had it removed from the Citizen’s Forum. But Rick Miller, chair of the Marie Dressler Foundation, thinks that “as a part of Cobourg’s history, Marie Dressler should be honoured with a photograph in the Town’s national historic building”. After all, the building belongs to the Town and its citizens and pictures should reflect the Town’s history and heritage. One group should not have a veto over what is displayed. On Monday night, Rick made a presentation to Council on this point. What if he as a citizen didn’t particularly like the portrait of Lenah Fisher? Would it then be removed? Why then remove the photo of Marie Dressler that others don’t like? To avoid these kinds of problems, a policy should be developed.
Presentation by Rick Miller
Here is a summary of Rick’s presentation (see link below for the complete version)
- Victoria Hall is a National Heritage Building
- Victoria Hall is a public building
- Victoria Hall is owned by the Town of Cobourg
- The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer is accountable for the operations of Victoria Hall
Victoria Hall has many different displays for viewing by the public
- Prominent Citizens: Edwin Guillet, Rev. A. Ryerson, James Cockburn
- Advertising for Concert Hall events
- War memorials
- Town Council, Lenah Fisher
- Vintage landscape scenes
Marie Dressler photo
In December 13, 2016 the Mayor unveiled a framed photograph of Marie Dressler in Victoria Hall Citizens’ Forum. But today, the framed photograph of Marie Dressler is missing.
- A Community Group (Victoria Hall Volunteers) objected to the image of Marie Dressler in the Citizens Forum on the basis of:
- The photograph was disturbing to their members when they met in the Citizens Forum (Rick said that the Foundation does not know what they found disturbing!)
- Marie Dressler has nothing to do with Victoria Hall
- Anything to do with Marie Dressler should be restricted to Marie Dressler House
- The President and former President of Victoria Hall Volunteers insisted to the Mayor that the photograph of Marie Dressler be removed from the Citizens Forum
- The Victoria Hall Volunteers did not contact Marie Dressler Foundation to discuss their concerns.
What is the Policy governing what gets displayed in Victoria Hall?
- As a citizen of Cobourg, if I object to the landscape prints in Citizens Forum, will the Mayor or Chief Administrative Officer remove them from the wall?
- What if I don’t particularly like the portrait of Lenah Fisher?
- What if I don’t think the picture of Edwin Guillet should be on the wall?
- The Directors of Marie Dressler Foundation are deeply disappointed with the conduct of the members of Victoria Hall Volunteers with respect to the photograph of Marie Dressler
- It is the position of Marie Dressler Foundation that, as a part of Cobourg’s history, Marie Dressler should be honoured with a photograph in the Town’s national historic building
- It is particularly disappointing during this year – the 150th birthday celebration for Marie Dressler
Request of Town Council
- That Council direct the Chief Administrative Officer to develop a policy governing the display of objects, photographs, pictures and other media in public and rentable areas of Victoria Hall
- That the subject Policy be brought before Town Council no later than September 30, 2018 for approval and implementation
- That in the meantime, Council directs that the photograph of Marie Dressler be reinstated in Citizens Forum until such time as an approved Policy would otherwise not permit.
Rick said he was not asking for a room, just that Marie Dressler’s photo be displayed in a prominent place in Victoria Hall.
Debate in Council
- Debra McCarthy asked: Do the Victoria Hall Volunteers have a say in what hangs in the Art Gallery? Rick did not know the answer to that.
- Suzanne Séguin asked: Where is the picture now? The gallery was amused to know that it was now in the Mayor’s office!
- Brian Darling wanted to know: Why September 30? Because there are a number of major Dressler events around that time and that October 1st is the last meeting of this council.
- Debra asked: Would another public location in Victoria Hall be OK? Rick said that it would. His concern was the “arbitrary decision not to display the photo”
Then Council unanimously passed a motion to develop the policy that Rick requested and that in the interim, the photo is to be installed in a prominent location in Victoria Hall.