Sudbury Art Gallery fears losing 1,400-work collection | Crisis at Laurentian University

The Laurentian University Center for the Arts and Museum (CAMUL) collection includes in particular works by painters associated with the Group of Seven (Tom Thomson, Frederick H. Varley, AY Jackson, Arthur Lismer, and JEH MacDonald) and native artists. renowned (Carl Beam, Daphne Odjig and Norval Morrisseau).

Court Documents Available Online (New window) (English only), the gallery explains that on July 30, 2021, without consulting an attorney, it filed a proof of claims after discussions with [l’Université] Laurentian Y instructions received of the firm Ernst & Young (EY), commissioned by the Superior Court of Justice to supervise the restructuring process of the Laurentian University.

When an organization shields itself from its creditors, as the University did in February 2021, all creditors must submit proof of claims specifying what they are owed by the organization, in the hope of compensation.

The evidence of allegations presented by the Sudbury Art Gallery amounted to almost $6.4 million and included, among other things, the value of the Bell Manor that houses the gallery ($1.3 million) and the value of a large collection of works of art, including the one managed by the gallery since 1997, valued at nearly $5 million.

The general manager of the gallery, Demetra Christakos, states in her affidavit that though she was not aware of any amount Laurentian owed the Sudbury Art Gallery, [elle] was concerned about the language used on the proof of claim forms.

There it is written that whoever has not submitted a proof of claim before the deadline of July 30, 2021 would lose the right to do so thereafter.

The proof of claims form did not allow the assertion of interests other than monetary claims against Laurentian. We have included monetary values ​​in the proof of claim because [le formulaire] values ​​required to be included for the claim to be validwrites Ms. Christakos.

In fact, none of the amounts we claimed were due to the Sudbury Art Gallery neither then nor now. »

a quote from Extract from the affidavit of Demetra Christakos, Executive Director of the Sudbury Art Gallery

Demetra Christakos is the Executive Director of the Sudbury Art Gallery.

Photo: CBC/Angela Gemmill

On or about February 1, 2022, six months after the Proof of Claim was filed, the Sudbury Art Gallery received notice ofErnst & Young warning him that his testimony had been rejected.

The notice not only denied our monetary claims in its entirety, but also included a statement that the Sudbury Art Gallery had no rights to these assetsthe affidavit reads.

I am deeply troubled by the assertion that a public art gallery, operating for the benefit of the public, may suddenly and permanently lose rights, including property, that it owns and cares for over 25 years due to a misunderstanding in the operation of the process of the Law of Agreement of Creditors of Companies. »

a quote from Extract from the affidavit of Demetra Christakos, Executive Director of the Sudbury Art Gallery

Several hundred works at stake

Since its constitution in 1997, the Sudbury Art Gallery preserves a collection of more than 1,400 works of art called the Center for the Arts and Museum of the Laurentiana University (CAMUL) (New window), which was operated from 1968 to 1997 by Laurentian University at Manoir Bell. The works in this collection are periodically exhibited at the Sudbury Art Gallery.

Court documents indicate that Laurentian University and the Sudbury Art Gallery had agreed from the outset that if the gallery could demonstrate the ability to secure its own financial stability, the property rights to the collection Laurentian University Museum and Arts Center would eventually be transferred to him.

Copies of numerous electronic communications between the Sudbury Art Gallery and Laurentian University included in court filings show that this arrangement has held up over the years.

The Sudbury Art Gallerywho finally hired the services of a lawyer last March, will go to the Superior Court of Justice on May 2 to request the ex officio withdrawal of his evidence of claims.

She says that she now recognizes that she misunderstood the nature of the supervisor’s role [Ernst & Young] and that it is not the responsibility of the supervisor to provide legal advice to potential interested parties, such as the GAS about your rights.

We believed that the supervisor was an independent body that had obligations to creditors and debtorswe can read in the court documents.

As a charity, the Sudbury Art Gallery you have limited funds to spend on professional counsel and have not retained legal counsel to help you file your proof of claim. The Board of Directors is made up of volunteers. We trusted that Laurentian University shared our understanding of the status quo that had prevailed for several decades, we did not expect a conflict. »

a quote from Extract from the affidavit of Demetra Christakos, Executive Director of the Sudbury Art Gallery

In your proof of claim denial notice, Ernst & Young does not clearly confirm that Laurentian University is the actual current owner of the assets that the Sudbury Art Gallery had declared.

On several occasions, the firm indicates that it has received documents confirming intention, for Sudbury Art Galleryto purchase these goodsbut none confirming that Laurentian accepted it.

A withdrawal of proof of claims granted by the court would not be a confirmation that the Sudbury Art Gallery [en] hasMs. Christakos admits.

We just have to be sure that the Sudbury Art Gallery reserves the right to discuss this in another place and on another date, if Laurentian decides to raise this issue, which he has not done so far.she wrote.

complex laws

Analyzing this situation, University of Ottawa law and management professor Gilles LeVasseur says the case illustrates the need have the property title to be able to confirm that there is a relationship between Laurentian and the gallery.

This is the first thing that should have been done, because if we haven’t properly identified the property or the fact that we have a right to the property, it becomes a bit difficult to justify this in court.he says.

Gilles LeVasseur being interviewed at the Radio-Canada Ottawa offices.

Gilles LeVasseur is a professor of law and management at the University of Ottawa.

Photo: Radio-Canada

It also highlights the importance of resorting to a lawyer, especially in the context of legal proceedings such as those related to the Companies Creditors Agreement Law.

These are complex laws. The concept is great, but you need to understand all the ramifications and court proceedings and mechanics involved. And very often, we will follow the advice of accounting firms. […]but there is also a need to consult at the legal level because many times there are exceptions or pitfalls that we have not foreseen. »

a quote from Gilles LeVasseur, Professor of Law and Management at the University of Ottawa

The General Manager and the President of the Board of Directors of the Sudbury Art Gallery turned down interview requests from Radio-Canada, how is the case before the courts.

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