Planning and Budgeting Case Study: Creating a Digital Exhibit of the Rodman Hall Art Centre Collection 


The RHAC Collection project has three main goals. First, to digitally preserve, host, and share an important Niagara cultural collection. Second, provide practical experience to graduate-level students by way of contract work positions. Third, provide research assistance to help deepen the understanding and significance of the RHAC Collection. 

This project aligns with Brock University Library’s current and past projects, specifically those that are digitally preserved on the Digital Exhibits section of the Brock University Library website. 


Since 1960, Rodman Hall Arts Centre (RHAC) has been a staple presence of the Niagara arts, social, and academic communities. During this time, RHAC acted as a cultural hotbed for the region, providing educational resources, event space, and public galleries for Brock University students and community members alike. Just as important during this time, the centre was committed to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting artwork from local, national, and international artists.  In 2003, when RHAC was in dire financial straits, Brock University stepped up and purchased the property and collection for $1 with the intention of preserving what had grown into a local institution. Under Brock’s guidance, RHAC continued to achieve excellence and add value to its community, all the while working towards creating a sustainable plan for preservation. In 2019, RHAC Inc., a non-profit group, was created to oversee the transition of RHAC away from Brock University. Along with community partners, RHAC Inc. has achieved an immense amount of work in conserving the collection of over 1100 works and strives to ultimately continue executing many of the same services that RHAC offered during its long history.

While the overarching goal of RHAC Inc. is to create a public art gallery that echoes the past values and goals of RHAC, the immediate concern has been how to make sure that the collection of artwork is catalogued, described, and captured digitally to ensure an ongoing and current record of the collection. Up to this point, an abundance of labour has gone into creating an inventory of and digitally documenting the objects within the collection but there are still a number of steps and professional experience needed to make sure the collection remains accessible and data preserved. 

I am proposing that the Brock University Library partner with RHAC Inc. to provide professional knowledge and experience in terms of creating a public archive of these 1100 culturally important works of art. Additionally, the library will assist in any research that is needed to help describe or better explain the context and/or significance of the objects to the collection, Niagara Region. 



The Brock University Library readily states that part of its role is that, “We serve as stewards by collecting and preserving records and cultural assets for the community.” ( There is no greater collection of fine arts and culture that has been built to reflect Niagara’s unique persona than that of RHAC. The collection significantly meets the need to become better-preserved records and cultural assets, and a partnership with the Brock University Library makes for a logical union as it will meet the needs and goals of both groups. Brock University’s own history of support for RHAC only strengthens the acknowledged significance this collection has to the university’s community and stakeholders. 

Within the context of the existing Archives & Special Collections at Brock University there is a strong argument for the addition of an RHAC Collection archive. A significant portion of the existing archive is dedicated to Digital Exhibitions. Some examples include, When the Prince of Wales Came to Niagara - 1860, Seeing Double - Niagara Falls Stereo Cards, Archival Oddities - Our Cabinet of Curiosities, and specifically within the arts, The Bradley Institute of Music - Taking Music Education Further. From this sampling, we see a broad coverage of topics that all connect due to geographical and cultural significance. The Digital Exhibitions create an accessible database of project-specific information and often include visuals along with the historical context of the specific project. 

The RHAC collection is an ideal candidate for inclusion into Brock University Library’s Archives & Special Collections. With an examination of the current inclusions, it is apparent that the RHAC collection meets many, if not all, of the same criteria that are inherently part of the historical, social, and Niagara-focused importance of the collection. 

Living within Digital Exhibitions, the RHAC Collection would be represented with digital images, physical descriptions, and a small blurb about the significance of the work. This would provide unparalleled access to the collection and enable users to view any part of the collection at their leisure. Up to this point in the collection’s life, most of the work has been stored in a climate-controlled setting while only a small portion is exhibited at any given time. 


Upon funding of this project, the first steps would look something like this, 

It is estimated that work on this project will take 6-8 months depending on available resources, funding, and scope of research needed. 

Brock Library responsibilities, 

RHAC Inc. responsibilities, 

Shared responsibility, 


Who are the leaders on this project?

Representing and managing on behalf of Brock Library is Ryan Rivando, Head, Collection Services. 

Representing and managing on behalf of the Board of Directors of RHAC Inc. is Chair Jean Bridge. 

In the spirit of partnership, decision-making will, when possible, be made together between the Head, Collection Services and the RHAC Inc. Board of Directors Chair. If a cooperative decision is not possible then the final say will be given to whomever scope of the project the decision is related to. Brock Library’s scope includes all aspects of managing, organizing, and presenting data on the Special Collections & Archives section of the Brock Library website. RHAC Inc. is responsible for the artwork, copywriting, fact-checking, and description of the artworks in the collection. 

For example, if the decision to be made is about cataloguing- this would fall into Brock Libraries realm. On the other side of things, if RHAC Inc. finds that an object be described as “mixed media” instead of “painting”- their expertise here would give them authority. 

Institutional Resources 

Brock Library Resources

RHAC Inc. Resources


Items and justification, 


Added value not in the budget should also be considered. RHAC Inc. has done a bulk of the strenuous work required for documenting, obtaining copyright, describing, and cataloguing the work. Without this previous effort and funding from local donors, we would not have been able to accomplish this Digital Exhibit on such a lean budget. To have the opportunity to take the existing value of the work already completed and add $18800 boosts the utility of this project and adds a significant cultural collection to the Brock University Library. 


It cannot be repeated enough that the RHAC Collection is invaluable to Brock University’s community, the Niagara region, and beyond. This is the largest public collection that has been fostered over the past 60+ years in Niagara that includes significant local, Canadian, and international works. The Brock Library has a strong track record of identifying important collections and taking action to preserve them online within the Digital Exhibits. 

There are many projects around the world that are based on the same values and local focus on the arts as the RHAC Collection. A prime example exists at the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library. With well over 10 times the proposed budget for the RHAC Collection project, the University of Virginia initiated a plan, “to digitize, identify, arrange, describe and conserve the ca. 4,500 photographs of African-American educational scenes in the southern United States…” (Plunkett, 2021). We can see the parallels here by identifying the cultural and geographic importance of both projects. Luckily, for our own project, a bulk of this work has been fulfilled independently by RHAC Inc. and our role and cost is focused on preserving the work within our existing online archive. 

Roles + Qualifications 

Brock Library leadership includes,

Head, Collection Services, Ryan Rivando- In this role, Ryan manages, strategizes and leads library acquisitions in all formats. Approximately 5% of his weekly workload will be allocated to this project. We will not be looking to recover this time through the grant as it fits the already established requirements of the position. 

Collections Librarian- In this role, the Collections Librarian is the front-line information professional who manages the online collection. She will spend no more than approximately 10% of her time overseeing the Online Archive Coordinator and Research & Cataloguing Assistant at their jobs. We will not be looking to recover this time through the grant as it fits the already established requirements of the position.

RHAC Inc. leadership includes a varied group of arts professionals and business heads, all of which are visionary leaders. Most notably this includes, 

Jean Bridge (Chair) – Visual artist and founder of Generator at One - Interactive Media incubator, and retired Associate Professor, Faculty, Department of Visual Arts.

N’ora Kalb  – Director of Operations at Innovate Niagara, a one-stop resource for entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors.

A full list of the RHAC Inc. leadership can be found at,


Brock University Library. (n.d.) Digital Exhibits. 

Plunkett, M. (2021, June 19). Project Grant Proposal Digitization, Identification, Description, and Access to the Jackson Davis Collection in the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library. Special Collections Library.

General format and proposal structure,

Nilsen, K., & Sheldrick, R. C. (2013). Communicating professionally: A how-to-do-it manual for librarians. Section 9.1.4 Proposals, (pp.367-371) ProQuest Ebook Central

For information on Rodman Hall Arts Centre Inc. and the collection, 

Rodman Hall Arts Centre Inc. (n.d.)