Photo by Michael Graydon Photography
For this installment of the dream job diary, we bring you Gaëtane Verna, the Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto.
Founded in March 2012, Power Plant is Toronto’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary visual art. The gallery will be holding the 19th installment of its famous fundraising event on June 1st. Power Ball XIX: Stereo Vision, presented by Max Mara. Power Ball brings together a variety of partners and collaborators to create an fusion of art, music, food and drink, resulting in the ultimate in party experiences.
This year Mexico City-based architecture and design studio, Pedro&Juana will be the artists for Power Ball’s VIP portion. The pair will collaborating with performance artist Francesco Pedraglio to create a sensory experience exploring the Stereo Vision theme. Wayhome Music and Arts Festival has come on board as the entertainement sponsor, so you know the tunes will be rad. And The Drake will be coming on board for the VIP portion to provide delectable dishes to feed our bodies as the art and music around us feeds our souls.
And at the core of all of this amazing party planning is Gaëtane Verna.
Gaëtane came on board with an impressive resume and some serious art industry cred. Before her role at The Power Plant, Gaëtane was Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette in Lanaudière, Quebec for six years. From 1998 to 2006, she was the curator of the Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University, while also teaching in the Art History department of both Bishop’s University and the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Gaëtane has beenn curating, presenting, publishing catalogues and organizing exhibitions by Canadian and international artists of all levels of fame and experience for many years. These artists include Vasco Araújo, Alfredo Jaar, Luis Jacob, Shelagh Keeley, Kimsooja, Yam Lau, Oswaldo Maciá, Ed Pien, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Pedro Reyes, Gabor Szilasi, Javier Tellez, Denyse Thomasos, and Zineb Sedira, among many others.
We sat down with Gaëtane to talk about her past work experience and what it takes to get her dream job.
What is your official title?
Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.
How did you get into your current line of work?
I first played cello in an orchestra, and also was part of the corps de ballet of Ballet Ouest in Montreal. I was always interested and involved in the arts and arts management. I first wanted to work in an auction house but soon realized that the study of art history and then exhibition making was my calling. Presenting and collection works of arts was my passion. Museums became my preferred interest.
Did you go to school/get training for your dream job?
Yes, I studied for many years and earned a bachelor degree at Concordia University in Montreal, and a Masters degree as well as a DEA at Paris I Université Panthón-Sorbonne in Paris.
Is this a job you attained or did you create it for yourself?
Being the director of Canada’s leading contemporary art gallery which focuses on Canadian and international art is something that I worked for and that I could not create, not even in my wildest dreams. The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery celebrates its 30th anniversary this year in 2017 and I stand on the shoulders of all of my predecessors and everyone who has made significant contributions to the legacy of the gallery, and to its international reputation as a key player when it comes to contemporary art.
Tell us about your first job ever.
I had a paper route and I delivered the Gazette Newspaper in Montreal for my 35 clients for three years: winter or summer, rain or shine.
Before you got your dream job, what was the best job you had?
I was a counsellor and section director for senior girls at Kamp Kanawana, a summer camp in St-Sauveur Quebec.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
During my 6 years at the helm of the Musée d’art de Joliette in Quebec, I developed a plan and project that enabled us to confirm a $10,000,000 grant for the renovation of the museum from the government of Quebec as well as a $1,300,000 grant from the Great Joliette area for the same project. I was so proud that the exhibitions and public programs that we presented during these 6 years convinced all of the municipal and provincial governments that an investment in arts and culture was a long term, worthwhile investment within this dynamic and forward thinking community of 42,000 citizens.
Following that project I was named director of The Power Plant. For the last 5 years we have transformed the gallery while staying true to its initial mandate: to present the best in contemporary culture, and to contribute to the artistic culture of our time. It is in that spirit of generosity and worthwhile investment that all of our donors and sponsors support our gallery. Being a platform that presents contemporary arts of the world in Toronto and in Canada, and leading a small but mighty team of 20 who achieve this mandate is also another of my great achievement.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to find their dream job but hasn’t yet?
Follow you dreams, take risks and leave no stone unturned. Travel to gain experience abroad and never say no to an offer if it presents opportunities for you to shine and do work that is of interest to you. You should work hard even if you think that no one is looking. You never know who is truly seeing what you are doing and contributing to.