The Niagara Artists Center (NAC) is a registered non-profit charitable collective that regionally focuses on artists who live and work locally in Niagara.
Founded in 1969, the NAC is one of the oldest artist-run centers in the country. There are approximately 75 artist-run centers in Canada, each with its own goal. For the NAC, the emphasis is on community involvement.
âWe’re more interested in community involvement than a lot of other centers, so we’re trying to find ways to get people interested in contemporary art, whether it’s visual arts, film, media, literature. , performance, music, we’re just trying to strike a balance for the benefit of this region, âsaid Stephen Remus, Minister of Energy, Spirit and Resources at the NAC.
The NAC provides space, tools and the means for local artists to create and exhibit their work. They rented a studio where members can work and sell their art as well as clothing and music.
The studio is currently home to 14 artists, each with their own space. The studio also has a collectively managed print studio and tool library, where equipment for making movies, recording audio, computers and presentation materials are available to members. of the NAC.
NAC members benefit from reduced rates on the rental of these spaces as well as on admission to events organized by the NAC, such as workshops. There are different levels of membership, including a discounted student membership available with recurring and non-recurring annual payment options available.
You don’t have to be an artist to be a member, people in the community can take advantage and stay informed while supporting the NAC.
âThe majority of our members are artists, but we also encourage art lovers and other members of the community to get involved in anything that might interest them,â said Natasha Pedros, Ambassador at the NAC.
Located at 354 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines, the NAC consists of three on-site galleries, in addition to the Flea Market Gallery located at 46 Turner Crescent for a total of four galleries.
The exhibition gallery
The Exhibit Hall Gallery is the largest space at the NAC and usually houses works by Canadian and international artists. It has recently been temporarily transformed into Movie room where they organize film screenings every week. Scheduled artwork will return in spring 2022. It will focus on changing the reservation of missed work due to COVID-19 and will require future scheduling to be booked two years in advance.
Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery
Located in the foyer, this is a project space where members can display and sell their work. The NAC takes a modest 15 percent commission to cover the cost of painting the walls and managing transactions. This gallery rotates every three to four weeks and is reserved for members of the NAC. At the moment, Amber Lee Williams Attached is on display in this gallery, which explores the bond between mother and child.
The flat glass gallery
This gallery consists of works exhibited on the glass located at the front of the center before entering. The works for this gallery are scheduled a year and a half in advance. At present, Tracey-Mae Chambers Hope and healing Canada is on display in this gallery, focusing on the struggles of the pandemic, the fight against racial discrimination and the Indigenous children forgotten in the discovery of mass graves across Canada. According to the NAC website, the Chambers installation “asks us to stop, catch our breath, and think about where we are heading from here, individually and collectively, and how do we keep hope?” “.
Flea Market Gallery
Located in a different building, the Flea Market Gallery is a small booth that has been redeveloped and transformed into a pop-up gallery space at the St. Catharines Flea Market. The job displayed here is also scheduled in advance. At the moment, Samantha Jones Some of my friends eat ice cream is featured here, which is a series of portraits of women eating ice cream on a wet summer day in southern Ontario.
In order for artists to see their works on display at the NAC, they must go through a careful selection process. Members of the NBOD who wish to submit a proposal at the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery must be in good standing with the NAC Selection Committee and include ten images, video or other appropriate documentation, a detailed description of the proposed exhibition, a statement of their work, and a curriculum vitae or biography of the artists.
After submission, the selection criteria are checked by a board of directors composed mainly of artists. The proposal must meet the following criteria: commitment to use the space, the work must communicate in dialogue developing, emerging or established contemporary art practices, and the work must meet the standards of the NAC community.
Given the impact of COVID-19, the CNA has managed to stay active during the pandemic. There were slack periods, but they set up the center to accommodate art lovers in complete safety. Especially now that some restrictions have been lifted, they have seen an increase in the number of participants. The NAC has resisted the urge to broadcast its events online, as have many other centers.
“We did not think that the possibilities of an engagement were so significant [online] so we focused our efforts on trying to create safe events outside and in the center, âsaid Remus.
The CNA continues to follow COVID-19 guidelines; the space has a capacity limit instead of 25 people, so there is plenty of space to safely distance yourself. It is also important to note that the center also has non-forced air heating for better air quality.
Over the past two summers, many events have been moved outside, including screenings on the rooftop terrace, as well as film and music festivals.
âThere has been a great response to all the programming both indoor and outdoor, people are very interested in getting back together,â said Pedros.
The Mighty Niagara Film Festival is one of the biggest events the NAC participates in during the summer. This festival is a great opportunity for people willing to get involved and volunteer, whether that is by taking tickets, putting up posters or helping to set up the screenings themselves.
“[The festival screens] films made by, about and for Niagara. Many local filmmakers submit work. The call for applications will be launched next month, âsaid Pedros. âWe had to postpone the date last year, but we hope to be able to do so at the end of June of next year. It takes place in several locations across Niagara.
Even though the festival doesn’t take place until next summer, they still screen local and hard-to-find movies in the movie theater Wednesday through Friday at 7pm. Upcoming projections include those for 2021. Mandibles, a comedy directed by French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, as well as, I’m sorry if I took a toll on you, a horror film by local filmmaker Jake Burgess, who will be present at screenings to answer questions from the audience.
Another upcoming event at the NAC is a performance by the Canadian singer Julie doiron December 7. The gallery where the cinema fair is currently located will be adapted to present his group. She will be joined by Dan and Ian Romano, local artists based in Welland. The show should be intimate with only 60 tickets available. Doiron recently published I thought about you, his first solo album in nearly a decade. She will give two other shows after playing at the NAC, those in Toronto and Montreal.
In addition, they also partner in the musical performance with Moving Image, where the band will perform, and then the visual artists will react by pasting films and modifying the video.
A little further on, artist David Figueroa, a member of the NAC who currently has a workshop, will exhibit paintings and lead a workshop in January 2022.
There are many other events that art lovers and the St. Catharines community in general can look forward to. The NAC is focused on hosting and delivering these programs.
âThat’s what you want to do with it. If you are interested in participating, it’s not like you are necessarily supervised, you can do whatever you want to do, the place is run by a lot of people who are interested in making things happen. If you’re that kind of person, we’ll open the door for you, âRemus said.
The NAC is not only focused on the community, but also on the students more specifically, as they are also linked to Brock University in other ways.
âIt’s important to note that we often partner with Brock University to do different presentations and projects with the visual arts department, the literary department. We are still involved with professors and students and we welcome more involvement, âsaid Pedros.
The CNA also collaborates with other organizations in the region. They are heavily involved in Suitcase in Point Theater Company; they present the Festival des arts du sol, of which the CNA is a founding partner. They also collaborate with Gallery Players of Niagara, a chamber music organization. The group will write a score for a silent film and perform it live, and the NAC will co-present it with them. The NAC has also worked with Out of the Cold for decades. Members help prepare and serve a hot meal for people experiencing homelessness and / or food insecurity.
âThe NAC functions as a community cultural center. There are community centers that focus on recreational activities [such as] athletics, but the NAC is the community center for arts and culture in St. Catharines, âsaid Remus.
The importance of art and culture in the community is vital, and the NAC works to support and proliferate this. Despite a number of hurdles related to the pandemic, they continue to safely adapt to safely welcome and support the community.