Gardiner Museum

The Gardiner Museum celebrates the art of ceramics and engages local and international audiences by promoting understanding of the long history of people crafting in clay. Through the display of its permanent collections and special exhibitions, as well as through studio education, programs that engage diverse communities, and major contributions to scholarship, the Gardiner champions ceramics. The Museum has collections of international importance, including Ancient Americas, 18th Century European, and Contemporary, especially the work of great Canadian artists. There are clay classes for children and adults, and a wonderful shop and restaurant. The special exhibitions are exceptional, both historical and contemporary. It’s one of the great specialty museums in the world.

Community Arts SpaceOur Impact Why We Exist

The Gardiner Museum is committed to providing everyone with access to its collections and programs. Whenever possible, the Gardiner collaborates with cultural and community organizations to do this.  To further enhance the richness and diversity of the cultural sector, the Gardiner decided to use its 307-square-metre exhibition hall for community and cultural programming from June 27 to September 2, 2016 as a pilot for what may become an annual event. 

This year the Community Arts Space will be a pilot project, one that the Museum hopes to continue in the years ahead.  It is an innovative way to use our exhibition space that demonstrates the vitality of the Gardiner in the community. 

Through the collaborative delivery of these programs, the Gardiner will achieve the following objectives:

  • Engage the public with contemporary visual and performance art
  • Present of a variety of artistic disciplines
  • Contribute to the vitality of our community
  • Collaborate with organizations new to the Gardiner Museum
  • Reach out to new audiences through our collaborations
  • Expose our Gardiner members and visitors to smaller organizations
  • Remain true to our values of creativity, and bringing the beauty of ceramics to our visitors
  • Support dialogues important to our City by working with organizations exploring relevant, contemporary issues

The Gardiner Museum will utilize the themes of interactivity, performance, community based arts, and city building to demonstrate its vital and essential role in the community.  Over the past two years, the Gardiner has actively contributed to the conversation on contemporary art, issues facing our city and nation – all through creative partnerships.

UnSpun TheatreOur Story What We Do

Some of the best artist projects and community initiatives are never seen by a large audience because space is at a premium in the City. This is one, if not the most, urgent need for community arts organizations.  The Gardiner developed a Request for Proposals that was widely distributed and invited organizations to submit their ideas for how they would use the space for a two-week period.  The Museum was open to the many possibilities the space presented—dance, music or theatre performances, workshops, community arts outreach, installations, performance art—our space was there for the taking.

The Gardiner received over 50 proposals from independent artists, community-arts groups, arts organizations, food-based initiatives, and collectives interested in urban planning.  Throughout the selection process four major themes emerged – interactivity, performance, community-based arts, and city building – and final selections were made to align with these concepts.   The Gardiner aims to promote the authenticity of clay in an increasingly virtual world. Each of these projects contributes to the central theme of Make It Real.

South Riverdale Community Health Centre groupOur Programs How We Do It

PLACE/SETTING – Akin Collective

June 27 – July 8, 2016

Over the course of two weeks Akin Collective, a group of artists that provides public programming around Toronto, will deliver a series of clay making workshops and community events.  Drawing inspiration from Judy Chicago’s iconic work The Dinner Party, visitors will be interact with ceramics in a more sociable, contemporary way.  Five ceramists will lead workshops with visitors during the first week in which they create a functional object.  As works are fired and prepared for display, the works will slowly set the table for a community celebration.  The spaces walls will be covered to create a living sketchbook to document the project and the planning of each of the works created.  The closing event at the end of two weeks will be a community potluck for all of the participants.  Visitors will be allowed to share and trade the tableware created reinterpreting the value placed on functional objects.

Respect: Make It Real – South Riverdale Community Health Centre

July 17 – 22, 2016

Respect is a community art based project developed to engage Muslim women of all ages in the community, to explore the impact of racialized discrimination, and stigma on their health and well-being.  Working with CAMH, over a 10 week period Muslim women discuss and explore their experiences, and express these through silk screening and upcycling.  These women transformed their negative encounters into creative expressions that the SRCHC and the Gardiner hope will bring forth acceptance and respect from the broader community.  For far too long these women have been silenced, and the SRCHC has done exceptional work to provide a platform to share their experiences to promote self-expression, health and well-being.   The artwork created will be display at the Gardiner and open with a community celebration.

We Built This City – Jennie Suddick and Sara Udow (Creative Catalyst)

July 25 – August 5, 2016

We Built This City is a playful and clayful approach to engaging diverse publics in envisioning our public spaces in a way that will animate, change and improve our everyday experiences.  Over the two-week period there will be a continuing studio project for visitors to discuss community priorities and directly inform the construction of a hypothetical version of the neighbourhood.  There will be the creation of a scale version of the neighbourhood in modelling clay and fort-building to encourage play and act as a tangible representation of childhood ambitions.  These on-site workshops will be complemented by a series of walkshops, which are facilitated walking workshops of the Gardiner’s neighbourhood.   We Built This City also coincides with the City of Toronto’s TO Core initiative and the project will intersect with the Planning Division.  The Gardiner is vital to its neighbourhood, and to the cultural landscape of Toronto, and this partnership will emphasize the important role the Museum plays in the community.

All The Things I’ve Lost – UnSpun Theatre

August 7 – 20, 2016

UnSpun Theatre is a creation-based theatre company that focuses on a collaborative, artist-driven approach to performance-making.   Their works is the result of collision and confluence, of shaping a single creation from several creative voices.  In All The Things I’ve Lost, Shira Leuchter will explore objects that have been lost throughout her life that have been a secret obsession.  Leuchter will perform alongside her mother, a ceramist, who will reinvent, recreate and honour Leuchter’s lost childhood objects by making them out of clay.  The stories will be told for the first time during each performance.   Outside of the performance times, all of the objects will be on display along with audio of their performances.  Visitors can listen to clips from previous live conversations through headphones next to each object.  Objects have a unique ability to contain and communicate meaning, narrative, and memory.  All The Things I’ve Lost intersects with the Gardiner’s mandate to preserve, interpret and engage visitors in the stories told through the permanent collection.

Shaping the Real – VIBE Arts (previously Arts for Children & Youth)

August 22 – 26 and August 29 – September 2, 2016

VIBE Arts provides opportunities for children and youth in under-resourced communities and schools to develop their potential through active engagement in hands-on, high quality arts education.  Shaping the Real is a collaborative project for four artists to work in pairs to create new multi-disciplinary works that explore how to make the creative process real and engaging for audiences.  VIBE Arts will pair an established artist with an emerging artist in different disciplines.  Each pair will have a dedicated week and work in the Community Arts Space engaging the public in an interactive activity that explores both of their disciplines.  The project will culminate in a closing night performance on the Friday.  Shaping the Real will allow the Gardiner to collaborate with VIBE Arts who have specialized in serving under-resourced communities for over twenty years, engaging new audiences at the Museum and raising awareness of our programs.

Children working with Akin CollectiveWhat You Can Do

The Toronto Vital Signs Report states that despite high levels of interest and engagement, a significant majority (83%) ofGTA residents face barriers to attending artsprogramming.  The biggest factor that is a barrier to participate in arts activities is cost.  Your support allows us to make the Community Arts Space accessible for all.

One of our partnered projects can be sponsored with a donation of $5,000.

Through this project, the Gardiner hopes to engage with new audiences, form new partnerships, and showcase the best, most interesting, thought-provoking, and audacious arts programming that Toronto has to offer.  The Community Arts Space will provide rich cultural experiences for individuals, children, young people and families in Toronto and the surrounding area.

There is a definite community need for the space being offered at the Gardiner.  The Museum will ensure that barriers are removed for visitors from all communities to engage with the projects presented by our diverse partners.  Accessing arts experiences in the summer keeps children and youth engaged and inspired through the summer, and the Gardiner will be playing a key role in this in summer 2016.


Lauren Gould
Senior Manager, Development & Programs
Charitable Number: 108082900RR0001