Where have all the Canadians Gone?

CNW photograph - Josh Basseches
Trending At Toronto's Cultural Attractions: Hire Out Of Canada.

Just got a CNW release about the new head of the Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto. In the press release ROM welcomes its new Director & CEO, Josh Basseches. He was previously the Deputy Director of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Basseches is well qualified to take-over a museum the stature and budget of the ROM. However, by passing over, once again, worthy Canadian candidates for the job (last CEO, an Australian, left her post early), ROM has continued a disturbing trend here in Toronto -- most of the high profile roles at this city's key cultural institutions have been handed over, at a huge expense, to foreign nationals.

Earlier this year the Art Gallery of Ontario announced that after a 7-month worldwide search it had hired Stephan Jost as CEO of the Gallery. A Michigan born art expert, Jost does not appear to have a background in Canadian Art. He is being moved lock, stock and barrel from his home in Hawaii (he was head of the little known Honolulu Museum of Art).

Jost and Basseches join a growing number of foreign born CEOs including but not limited to: National Ballet's executive director Barry Hughson (Boston); Luminato's CEO Anthony Sargent (UK), Harbourfront's Australian CEO Marah Braye; the Opera's General Director Alexander Neef (Germany) and Bata Shoe Museum's Director Emanuele Lepri (Italian).

I am no longer involved in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. I still do follow their exhibitions and programming. I do note that they are in the process of hiring a new CEO to replace the recently departed head of the gallery. We wait to see who gets the job -- we are betting / hoping it will be a Canadian.


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