New face at the Fifth

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New administrator Leah Keiser hopes to make big changes to the Fifth Parallel Gallery

Paul Bogdan
A&C Writer

“People are interested in coming and checking out art,” said Leah Keiser, the new gallery administrator for the Fifth Parallel Gallery, located in the Riddell Centre at the University of Regina.

Keiser, the gallery’s new administrator, hopes she can turn the Fifth Parallel into an opportunity for emerging art students. The gallery functions as a stepping stone for art students to see how art galleries are run and operated, and it also puts them in a situation where their work can be seen by a large number of people.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for emerging artists to learn how to show, how to contact a gallery and be involved with a gallery,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way for students to learn the administrative side of the art world … [and] to learn how to help others attain shows.”

Keiser also wants to aid artists by “opening more lines of communication between people running the gallery and the artists themselves.

“I know a lot of first-time showers to the gallery are incredibly nervous,” she continued. “Maybe they need a little more hand-holding than they’re getting right now. It’s kind of scary. I had my first show there last semester and wasn’t completely sure what I should [or] shouldn’t be doing.”

The new administrator is looking to change the way things are run around the Fifth Parallel, including “[applying] for some grants and actually [hiring] a staff that would cover all of our bases [so that] we could get stuff done without stressing out students.” Currently, the only paid position at the Fifth Parallel is the summer director. If the gallery was to have a paid staff running the Fifth Parallel, it would be able to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Furthermore, Keiser wants to increase the hourly allotment for the job, so as not to limit the amount of work that can be done at the gallery.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Keiser said, “[But] the job works out to maybe five hours a week. That’s not a lot of time to get the ball rolling on absolutely everything you want to do.”

Although Keiser wants to make some changes on the administrative end of the gallery, she does feel that the Fifth Parallel has been successful, namely in the community the gallery has created.

“There’s been a lot of community ties we have been able to build with members of the University of Regina and with the art community that’s been quite helpful,” she said. “We’re hoping to keep those.”

Accessibility is one of the goals of the Fifth Parallel, and it’s strived for both in terms of making art accessible for students to see, as well as helping to alleviate some of the challenges encountered by an artist attempting to survive in the art world.

“I think that [an on campus gallery] can make the department of visual arts, the Riddell Centre and the University of Regina as a whole more attractive to new students,” Keiser said. “It can benefit artistic students by providing the ability to show and participate in something that’s really hard to crack. The art world on a larger scale is so hard to get in to, and we think we do a pretty good job of making it accessible at the university.

“My sweet, boring policy [and] by-law work is intended to be a backbone for everything that happens [at the gallery], so maybe it’ll make the gallery experience more consistent [or] a little cleaner.”

While events at the gallery are something Keiser would like to pursue, she said the Fifth Parallel Gallery hasn’t made any set plans as of yet.

“It’s really too early to say,” she said. “Right now, the biggest thing on our minds is electing a new board. That’s our big thing until the board comes together and decides what we should and shouldn’t be doing.”

Whatever the decisions the new board at the Fifth Parallel ends up coming to, it can be assured they will further benefit the gallery, artists, students and university in general.

“[A]rtistic expressions … increase value for a culture, and I think we can be fostering a … more creative campus culture inside of the gallery space and hopefully outside of it as well,” Keiser said.

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