OPEN STUDIO

Contemporary Printmaking Centre

VISION

To shape the exploration of print as essential, dynamic, and relevant to contemporary culture and creative thought.

MANDATE

Open Studio is an Artist-Run Centre dedicated to contemporary printmaking. We provide accessible, inclusive, and affordable facilities, programs, and services for artists and the public from across Canada and abroad.

Our primary goal is to support artists in creating and exhibiting contemporary prints within an open-minded, safe, and collaborative environment.

We aim to promote printmaking by providing access to studio facilities, educational programs, residencies, exhibitions, and public art installations.

ABOUT

Open Studio was founded in 1970 as an ‘open’ space governed and supported by artists who wanted to continue their printmaking practice in an inclusive, communal setting. Printmaking requires specialized equipment, space, and expertise to manage complex chemical processes that demand specific health and safety measures. Open Studio was established as an Artist Run Centre (ARC) to fulfill these needs, providing a studio space where artists can work using various print media techniques, including intaglio, lithography, relief, screenprinting, and more, with expert help as required.

Today, Open Studio is the only artist-run printmaking centre in Toronto that offers affordable, comprehensive access to printmaking facilities and related programs for local, national, and international artists. Apart from full-time post-secondary programs, Open Studio is the foremost organization in Toronto that provides this range of facilities for printmaking artists. We continue to serve artists through facility rentals, residencies, printing services, and art sales. We also provide the public with opportunities to appreciate printmaking through our artistic programming and educational services.

OUR GOALS & OBJECTIVES ARE TO:

  • Contribute to innovation in printmaking and excellence in contemporary visual arts;

  • Provide a safe, shared space that is accessible to people from all communities;

  • Support artists working in print through access to comprehensive printmaking facilities and technical support;

  • Promote artists through exhibitions, public installations and print sales;

  • Provide professional development opportunities through residencies, scholarships, exhibitions and education;

  • Provide educational opportunities through hands-on courses, workshops and collaborative projects;

  • Work on behalf of artists, ensuring the payment of artist fees and acting as an advocate for artists’ rights;

  • And facilitate partnerships and alliances between artists, arts organizations, educational institutions.

Open Studio was established in August 1970 at 310 Queen Street West, Toronto, by artists Richard Sewell and Barbara Hall. Chicago artist, Don Holman, joined in 1971 to help set-up a lithography area for the space. An honorary Board of Directors made up of artist members and associates from the broader arts community helped incorporate Open Studio as a non-profit charity in December 1971, subsequently allowing the organization to gain charitable status in January 1972. From 1971 to 1996, Open Studio was located at 520 King Street West, Toronto, moving to a larger space at 468 King Street West in September 1996, with an increased area for production facilities, exhibition spaces, and improved administrative capabilities. In January 2004, Open Studio relocated to our current home in 401 Richmond Street West, where we gained significant additional production space and established a much larger gallery area where we could promote and exhibit our artists’ work.

Open Studio is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is made up of artists—both Open Studio artist members and artists from the wider community—and associates, whom we rely on for expertise such as event planning, marketing and fundraising. The Board is elected by our membership at annual general meetings. Board terms are two years, and members can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Interested in more details? Please email.

PROGRAMMING MANDATE
Open Studio is committed to providing an open and equitable platform for public programming that reflects innovative, non-hierarchical and cross-cultural approaches to contemporary printmaking by artists from diverse backgrounds and wide-reaching perspectives.

Open Studio is dedicated to engaging and supporting all individuals and prioritizes applications from members of equity-deserving communities, including racialized persons: Black, Indigenous, People(s) of Colour (BIPOC); persons with disabilities, persons living with mental illness, and persons of all sexual orientations, and gender identities/expressions.

Through our public programming, we aim to encourage audience connection to the evolving medium of print as it relates to contemporary culture and to foster a diverse and expansive view of what printmaking can be. This may include, but is not limited to, non-Eurocentric printmaking, digital and analogue forms of print, DIY print practices (zines, posters, pamphlets, etc.), as well as other traditional printmaking mediums.

Our gallery exhibitions and residency opportunities are programmed through annual calls for submissions, in addition to invited and curated exhibitions. We welcome explorations of print’s industrial, digital, commercial, and craft-based aspects, including proposals that intersect print with other media, and that explore print’s ethos in concept (sequencing, multiples, layering) as well as in practice. We are open to ideas and welcome proposals for solo and group exhibitions.

CURATORIAL VISION
Our curatorial vision is to create equitable and inclusive programming that supports and promotes global, innovative, and non-hierarchical approaches to contemporary printmaking from a range of cross-cultural perspectives. We aim to elevate the printed medium, and shape the audience’s experience of print in relation to a wider contemporary culture.

  • 1970 – Open Studio Facility Rental & Archives founded.
  • 1971 – Incorporation as a Non-Profit Charity.
  • 1971 – Publishing & Collaborative Printing programs introduced.
  • 1972 – Print Sales and Education programs initiated.
  • 1981 – Nick Novak Scholarship for artist members launched.
  • 1983 – Open Studio Gallery & Visiting Artist Residency program implemented.
  • 1985 – 100 Prints & Artist Proof Sale and Open House annual fundraisers established.
  • 1988 – Don Phillips Scholarship for recent graduates introduced.
  • 1996 – Open Studio Print Sales Gallery launched & expanded the education program.
  • 1999 – George Gilmour Members’ Gallery introduced.
  • 2004 – Guest Renter Residency program created.
  • 2008 – Annual Open Studio National Printmaking Awards established.
  • 2010 – Printopolis International Symposium staged to celebrate the 40th Anniversary.
  • 2012 – Hexagon Special Projects Fellowship for mid-career/senior artist members introduced.
  • 2016 – Jeannie Thib Mentorship Residency for emerging artists created.
  • 2016 – Inuit Artist Creative Residency program with DFA & Kinngait WBEC Studios launched.
  • 2018 – Renovated the galleries, and introduced the Feature Wall exhibition area.
  • 2018 – Redesigned the archive storage area and introduced the Open Studio Shop.
  • 2018 – Upgraded health and safety equipment and became a barrier-free space.
  • 2019 – Members’ Project Space (formerly the George Gilmour Gallery) established.
  • 2020 – Relaunched the publishing & collaborative printing programs.
  • 2020 – Open Studio celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
  • 2021 – Introduced the Black, Indigenous, People(s) of Colour (BIPOC) Artist Residency.
  • 2022 – Ran the CCA Virtual REsidency project.

A little-known aspect of Open Studio is its vast print archive, made up of one edition of every print pulled at the studio between 1970 and 2018. This is the first ledger used to record the works taken into the archive, items 1-1108. More details about our January exhibition here. We are extremely excited to have received a Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program (MAP) grant to formally access and digitize our archive.

Funded by the Government of Canada.


Open Studio acknowledges that it is situated on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Anishinaabe, the Huron-Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee who are the original owners of the land on which we continue to create and exist.

EDI FRAMEWORK

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY & EQUITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION (EDI) FRAMEWORK

Open Studio is at a critical point in its history. We are working to become a more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization, which is accountable for the racist structures and practices that have shaped us. This change has not happened quickly enough. Open Studio cannot build a positive future without facing the barriers that restrict access to our space, historically and now.

Open Studio was founded on ideals of community and openness, but often our policies have created obstacles to participation. Our membership requirements, exhibition choices, outreach efforts, and approach to education have had the effect of excluding artists from marginalized groups. Meanwhile, members of our community have experienced discrimination and racism. We celebrated our 50-year history without acknowledging or addressing these failures. We apologize that our actions and inactions have reinforced systemic inequities within the arts.

We know an apology alone is insufficient. We will listen, continuously reflect, and act on structural changes to become a more equitable space. We will prioritize anti-racism, equity, accessibility, and diversity moving forward.

Open Studio is implementing new programming initiatives and increasing access to our organization and its resources. We are working to re-orient our programming towards diverse voices and socially conscious practices through residencies, subsidized education opportunities, and more. We are undergoing a thorough examination of our institutional structure at Membership, Staff and Board levels, including mandates for diversity in hiring and Board recruitment. Open Studio is undertaking these shifts thanks to the artists who have come forward to critique and advise us. We are grateful to our External Advisory Panel and to our artist members for their guidance.

Diversity is crucial for our organization to thrive. We have begun the necessary work of creating and implementing a viable, action-based framework as outlined below, but we have only started. These goals will require sustained work and resources over time. Open Studio is committed to this work. We will continue to update the framework on this page as we move forward. We welcome your input and feedback. If you have any questions, please contact us by email.

  • Allocate finances to support ongoing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts, including but not limited to facilitation and training, education, programming and outreach.
  • Provide EDI training for all Board and Staff and examine ways to include membership training as well.
  • Include EDI discussions on the agenda at all Board, Committee and Staff meetings and create a Standing EDI Committee to advise on, coordinate and assist in implementing equity-deserving initiatives.
  • Review, identify and update all hiring and recruitment policies. Prioritize EDI in recruitment to Board, Committees and Staff, and increase Board representation to include at least 50% of its members who self-identify as members of equity-deserving communities.
  • Seek funding (grants, sponsorships etc.) specifically for initiatives that support programming and services for equity-deserving communities. Additionally, list external funding opportunities (grants and calls for collaborations) that further fund access for individuals from equity-deserving communities.
  • Promote opportunities for equity-deserving communities, and utilize accessible language and representational images wherever possible in all communications, including but not limited to: website, social media channels, printed material, in-person signage etc.
  • Prioritize responsiveness and transparency to requests for information and/or expressions of concern.
  • Offer all 2021-22 BIPOC residency applicants one year free membership.
  • Update studio signage relating to physical studio access to reflect open access and solidarity with equity-deserving groups via visual cues – separate from written communications.
  • Articulate a curatorial vision and exhibition mandate that orients programming decisions towards equity, diversity, and inclusion and develop a jurying rubric that reflects this vision and mandate.
  • Program all residencies, visiting artist programs, and exhibitions as follows:
    • 2023/2024: 100% representation by artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour (BIPOC)
    • *2024/2025: 100% representation by artists from equity-deserving communities.
    • 2025/2026: Minimum 2/3 majority representation by artists from equity-deserving communities
    • 2026/2027 and beyond: Minimum 50% representation by artists from equity-deserving communities
  • Build meaningful relationships with organizations that serve equity-deserving communities. Create inclusive outreach and organize programming that supports the work of our community partners.
  • Hire guest curators from equity-deserving communities to aid in developing exhibitions and programs. 
  • Increase the visibility of BIPOC curators, artists, and educators on Open Studio’s social media channels and website. Create paid opportunities to feature artist work that reflects print practice outside Euro-centric traditions.
  • * The Members Gallery (Project Space) call will be open to all members while emphasizing that priority will be given to equity-deserving/seeking groups.
  • Prioritize equity and inclusion in hiring education instructors. Create a call for new instructors that reflects this priority, and outreach proactively to diverse communities when recruiting. Provide increased support for instructors’ art practices and professional opportunities. 
  • Create mentorship opportunities for individuals who are interested in training their print skills to become education instructors and collaborative printers at Open Studio. 
  • Introduce a drop-in Community Print Night to our education schedule that emphasizes skill-sharing, where no print experience is necessary to participate. Implement an affordable, flexible or by-donation fee structure.
  • Develop online education programming to increase access to printmaking, independently of Open Studio’s downtown Toronto location.
  • Launch a speaker series featuring diverse artists with socially conscious print practices.

March 2023 Update
The Members Gallery (Project Space) call will be open to all members while emphasizing that priority will be given to equity-deserving/seeking groups.

February 2021 Update
In the winter of 2020-21, we inaugurated an Equity & Inclusion Committee involving an Advisory Panel of external arts practitioners from priority groups, to gain observations and insight towards making our organization more open and inclusive. We are also working with our membership to further guide us in enacting real change. We expect to release an action framework soon.

June 2020 Update
In June 2020, Open Studio paused much of its outreach and communication to give space to conversations surrounding injustices toward Canada’s Black and Indigenous communities. 

We took time to discuss and reflect on the ways Open Studio has inadvertently propped up systemic barriers that prevented Black artists, Indigenous artists and artists of colour (BIPOC) from accessing our studio and exhibition spaces.

Our initial solidarity statement expressed that “Open Studio was built on openness and as a safe creation space for all,” but we realize that this has not always been the case in practice.

We question why after 50 years of existence, the membership of Open Studio remains so homogenous yet exists in the centre of Canada’s most diverse city. In the past two years physical improvements have been made to ‘open up’ the studio, but we recognize that our institution has not done enough to actively make space for BIPOC artists.

We seek sustainable solutions and a long-term vision for how to manifest a more inclusive future. An advisory committee will be struck composed of artist members and members of the larger Toronto arts community, including Black and Indigenous artists, in order to explore ways Open Studio can lessen racial and financial impediments and provide broader access to our space and resources. We foresee new programming initiatives, new education scholarships, and potential changes at the staff and Board levels.

We look forward to building a more open and welcoming studio that will truly serve as a safe creation and exhibition space for the whole artistic community.

Main Gallery Exhibition: Pascaline Knight performing 'Le e dans l’o de mon cœur / When (i) draw my own lines—performing the substrate', 2019. Photo credit: Peter Legris.

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