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Dates of existence
The Simon Fraser Gallery was established as a public art gallery in 1970 by SFU President Kenneth Strand upon the recommendation of the President's Works of Art Committee. At the same time, he appointed James Warren Felter as University Art Curator. He was charged with directing the Gallery's program and serving as curator of the University's art collection known as the Simon Fraser Collection. The Gallery was administratively located in the Centre for Communications and the Arts. The Gallery and the Simon Fraser Collection provided the visual arts component of the Centre. In 1974, the collection had more than five hundred works of art, primarily of Canadian artists.
When the Centre for Communications and the Arts became the Centre for the Arts within the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, the position of Curator/Director of Exhibitions became the Director of the Simon Fraser Gallery.
During the first ten years of its operation, the Gallery presented 127 exhibitions in its campus facility. In addition to organizing exhibitions and hosting circulating programs on the SFU campus, the Gallery developed its own program of circulating exhibitions to other public art galleries, principally in western Canada.
The 1983 programs of the Gallery reflected the University's growing financial crisis and the once extensive program of circulating exhibits was cut back. The new University President, William Saywell, restructured the Works of Art Committee. In 1984, Felter, who had been the chair of the committee, became its secretary and Professor Ed Gibson became chair. In June 1985, after receiving a proposed statement of policy from the President's Works of Arts Committee, President Saywell separated the Gallery from the Centre for the Arts to become an independent unit reporting to the Vice-President, Development. The new policy stated that the primary purpose of the Gallery was to enhance the aesthetic sensibilities of the entire University community as well as the general public. The University Art Curator, who acted as Director of the Gallery, would be responsible for planning and day to day Gallery operation.
In January 1986, Ed Gibson succeeded Jim Felter as Director of the Gallery. The President's Works of Art Committee expanded to become the Simon Fraser Gallery Board, with representation from faculty, students, staff and the community. It functioned in an advisory capacity to the Vice-President, Development.