The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

The Power Plant is Canada’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary visual art. It is a vital forum for the advanced artistic culture of our time that offers an exceptional facility and professional support to diverse living artists while engaging equally diverse audiences in their work.

Our Impact Why We Exist

The Power Plant pursues its activities though exhibitions, publications and public programming. It fulfils its mandate by generating:

  • exhibitions that represent the range of advanced practice in visual arts;
  • publications that increase knowledge of contemporary art;
  • lectures and symposia that encourage debate and further understanding;interpretative tools that invite visitors to question, explore and reflect upon their experiences;
  • programming that incorporates other areas of culture when they intersect with visual art.The Power Plant will be a leading international centre for contemporary art. 

Renowned for its global vision and special commitment to groundbreaking contemporary Canadian art and widely supported as essential to the cultural infrastructure in Toronto, Ontario, and Canada

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Founded in 1987, The Power Plant is Canada’s leading public art gallery devoted to the presentation of contemporary art, artists and ideas through exhibitions, publications, talks, and events. Initially established in 1976 as the Art Gallery at Harbourfront, the gallery moved to a repurposed 1920’s powerhouse located on Toronto’s waterfront in the late 1980s. The Power Plant is recognizable by its smokestack and exterior façade which have been restored to maintain reference to its history.

Accolades and Accomplishments

The Power Plant is a fiscally sound organization that has been awarded The Lieutenant Governors' Award three times for building innovative private-sector partnerships in support of our activities. Over the last twenty-five years, The Power Plant has produced more than forty influential and award-winning publications, and is a proud recipient of 2011 OAAG Curatorial Writing Award (Adaptation: Between Species, 2010) and 2011 OAAG Design Awards (Pae White: Material Mutters, 2010; The Power Plant—Refresh, 2011). In 2008, The Power Plant received an award for Simon Starling: Cuttings (Supplement), which was named one of "The Most Beautiful Swiss Books" in 2008 by The Swiss Federal Office of Culture.

In 2009, The Power Plant implemented an initiative with a focus on increasing public access to the gallery. This project entailed improvements to the physical, virtual, and visual access to the gallery. In 2011 this initiative, called the Access Project, was launched with a brand new lobby & reception area, visual identity, and website. The project has increased traffic to the physical space, provided for a positive visitor experience, and improved the flow of information to new and diverse audiences.

The gallery's pioneering free admission initiative ALL SUMMER, ALL FREE has been providing free admission to the gallery during the summer season since 2005, thanks to the Hal Jackman Foundation. The ALL SUMMER, ALL FREE admission program has been an unmitigated success, and gallery attendance during the summer has risen over 400% annually. This initiative has provided thousands of summertime tourists at Harbourfront Centre the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge contemporary art: an experience which otherwise may not have been possible. In March 2012, The Power Plant introduced ALL YEAR, ALL FREE, offering free admission to the public for an entire year and granting greater access to the very best in contemporary art.

Our Programs How We Do It

As Canada's leading contemporary art gallery, The Power Plant has been internationally recognized for its independent view on visual art. We advance the public's knowledge and enjoyment of contemporary art practices through a range of high-calibre exhibitions, commissioning, publications, and public/education programs. These interconnected programs track the emerging discourses, new artists, geographies, media, and contexts that underpin leading-edge aesthetic developments and highlight living artists’ diverse responses to contemporary culture.

The Power Plant devises education/public programmes aimed at transforming visitors into active participants. These include live performances, artist talks, symposia, panel discussions, and films, fostering a sense of community and interaction in audiences - from first-time visitors to artists, scholars, collectors, and arts enthusiasts who form our core audience

Power Kids is one of the gallery’s most popular public programs; it targets children aged 8–12 years and introduces them to contemporary art in a creative workshop format where they produce their own art in the context of the current exhibition at The Power Plant.  Our workshops for kids are led by skilled and dynamic artist-educators, who design activities that emerge from the ideas behind the current exhibitions. Each workshop also begins with a tour of the gallery by The Power Plant’s trained Gallery Attendants. Power Kids is part of a larger Education strategy for The Power Plant as the initial step in growing audiences and engaging more people with contemporary art.

Power Kids

Funding and Program Partners

This year, the gallery rolled out a new partnership with Hal Jackman Foundation for Power Kids, making the program free and increasing the number of sessions offered.

Program Impact

Power Kids is an important tool for cultivating future art audiences. By introducing contemporary art to children at an early age, The Power Plant hopes to develop an early understanding and appreciation for contemporary art and culture in children.  Reviews of the program have been stellar; children have enjoyed creating artwork and learning new concepts and ideas taught in a fun and exciting setting.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“More than half of all parents (56%) reported that their children participate in sports and recreation activities outside school hours. But almost one quarter (23%) of children never participate in such activities. 41% of children regularly participate in extracurricular arts programs; more than one-third (36%) never have that opportunity.” (Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2009)

"After-school programs make a critical difference in safety and skill development." (Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2009)

"The goals of educational programs include building future audiences, ensuring exposure to the arts, and community building." (Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2011)

Participant Vignette

"...The children learned to develop different ways of looking at things. At the end, every child learned to make his or her own book. From books about cars to books about places around the world, the children were proud of their work. When asked, the kids exclaimed that they loved the workshop and the hands-on approach. One young girl participated in the workshop said, "I liked cutting up the pictures and making my own book." This workshop provided hands-on activities which encouraged the eager young participants to contribute. Parents and children were able to learn about the value of pictures and gain a whole new perspective on books. The kids enjoyed the workshop and hope to be able to come again."

- Power Kids participant (excerpt from Voice K Magazine, a magazine written by children for children)

 

ALL YEAR, ALL FREE

In March 2012, The Power Plant introduced ALL YEAR, ALL FREE, offering free admission to the public for an entire year and granting all present visitors and potential visitors greater access to the very best in contemporary art. This year long program was made possible by The Hal Jackman Foundation, who has been a generous supporter of the gallery's pioneering free admission initiative ALL SUMMER, ALL FREE, providing free admission to the gallery during the summer season since 2005. This initiative has provided thousands of summertime tourists at Harbourfront Centre the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge contemporary art: an experience which otherwise may not have been possible. The Power Plant set a new precedent with the continuation of the ALL YEAR, ALL FREE program, offering FREE gallery admission for three consecutive years beginning June 2013, with a second renewal secured for three consecutive years following that.

Funding and Program Partners

The Hal Jackman Foundation has been a generous supporter of the free admission program since its inception in 2005. Partnering with BMO in a brand new way in June 2013, we were pleased to announce the continuation of the ALL YEAR, ALL FREE program due to the generous support of BMO Financial Group.

Program Impact

The free admission program is unique in the Toronto art community and has been a staggering success for The Power Plant since its inception. This initiative is exemplary in that it provides all visitors, from art aficionados to individuals with no previous exposure to art, barrier-free access to the most challenging and engaging art of our time.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Toronto is among the leading global regions in the arts and culture sector - a sector vital to the generation of wealth and community vitality.” (Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2010)

“The arts help fuel innovation and creativity – critical components for successful city. The arts help us commemorate our past, understand our present, and imagine our future.” (Toronto Vital Signs®, 2010)

“Almost all Ontarians polled in 2010 (95%) believe that the arts enrich the quality of life.” (Toronto's Vital Signs®, 2011)

“Toronto needs to strengthen and sustain the fragile environment that supports cultural entrepreneurship.” (Toronto Vital Signs®, 2011)

Participant Vignette

“I was just walking by – probably would not have explored the gallery if it was not free – thank you for the experience!” 

- Visitor to the summer 2011 exhibiton

What You Can Do

There are many ways to be involved with supporting The Power Plant.

The Power Plant, as a not-for-profit organization, is powered by the generous contributions of corporate and individual supporters. There are many ways to support the gallery and enjoy a deeper engagement with art. Become a Member, attend a fundraising party, partner your business with us, or volunteer. The gallery offers you many ways to be a part of what we do and we count on you to make it happen.

Visit our website for more information.