Artist-run centres emerged in Canada in the 1970s as alternative exhibition spaces. Today, they continue to serve as spaces for meaningful dialogue, community engagement, and exchange within and across Canada’s rich art scene. Founded in 1974, Artspace was one of the first artist-run centres in Canada and it remains a vital regional hub for the arts today. We strive to produce thought-provoking exhibitions that engage with diverse cultural and political perspectives through collaboration with artists at all career stages, working in any medium.
Artspace has been serving the Peterborough community for over 45 years. We are a non-profit, charitable organization committed to nurturing the development and presentation of new work from artists of all disciplines.
Artspace is part of a dedicated and diverse community. We welcome audiences of all ages and backgrounds and have developed meaningful relationships with our neighbours in Peterborough’s vibrant downtown.
Artspace operates as an uninvited guest on Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg land in the community known as Nogojiwanong by some, and as Peterborough by others. This community exists in the territory defined by colonial terms as Treaty 20, or the Williams Treaties, a series of treaties that date back to 1923.
The territory under this treaty consists of the First Nations communities of Alderville, Beausoleil, Curve Lake, Georgina Island, Hiawatha, Scugog Island, and Rama. The Nishnaabeg are the traditional caretakers of this land and territory and as a settler-founded and led organization, Artspace is grateful to exist on this land and in this community.
Artspace is a non-profit artist-run centre that assists artists with the presentation of new work. We change in response to the needs of artists and work to engage and inform the public about their work.
Formally, our mandate aims to foster a stronger appreciation for Canadian contemporary art. In our ongoing efforts to increase public awareness, we also aim to build on our reputation as one of our region’s most vital arts organizations.
Our programming, though national in scope, is regional in spirit. In connecting artists to the community and fostering public engagement, we continue to attract respected talent from across the country. We are proud to compensate with fees that exceed recommended CARFAC rates.
- To advocate for the rights of artists; specifically, we recognize the institutional barriers faced by specific groups of artists and aim to create space for Indigenous, regional, and emerging artists working in all disciplines and medias
- To take a leadership role in the interface between artists and community, and foster dialogue between contemporary artists from diverse cultural/political perspectives
- To foster dynamic audience engagement that appeals to a wide range of community members on a local, provincial, and national platform
- To serve as an educator, resource centre and creator of professional development opportunities for artists in the region
Artspace is built on the strength of its membership, supported by private sector partners, and funded at all levels of government; the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Arts Foundation, the City of Peterborough, and Delta Bingo and Gaming Peterborough.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Founded in 1974 by a group of dedicated local artists, Artspace differs from many of the artist-run centres that formed in this early period. Artspace was established and sustained by a membership spread amongst smaller urban centres, rural areas and townships as part of a unique cultural milieu within the region. The organization received its non-profit, incorporated, charitable status in July 1977. Since it’s founding, Artspace has played a profound role in the development of contemporary Canadian art, creating a space for numerous prominent artists to present their work for the first time.
In July 2004 the Artspace gallery site was destroyed and its archives badly damaged by a major flood in downtown Peterborough. In September 2006 following several temporary relocations Artspace resettled at its current location at 378 Aylmer Street. With an expanse of floor to ceiling windows the centre maintains a prominent street-front presence in the busy downtown core of Peterborough, where. With additional presentation and workshop spaces the centre’s current location allows for the installation of larger, more ambitious installations of contemporary art, while also providing regional artists with adequate professional workspaces.
In November 2014 the centre celebrated its 40th anniversary and marked the occasion with an interactive exhibition, publication, and public celebration titled “I Will Not Grow Old In Peterborough.” In 2016, after ten years at our current site, and after a history of regular relocation, the Artspace negotiated a new, long-term lease that will afford the centre locational stability through 2026.
In 2019, staff sat down with artist Dorothy Caldwell, a founding member of Artspace to discuss the early days of the artist run centre. You can watch the full interview below.