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New northern Ontario artists co-op forming

'Artists struggle to find funding, to showcase their talents and to develop new skills which will allow them to grow as artists and entrepreneurs'
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Karrie Emms
Karrie Emms. (Supplied)

Gateway to The Arts is a new artist's initiative coming to northern Ontario. 

Based in North Bay, the co-op will be open to any artists in the north.  

"This endeavour will differ from past ventures because it will follow a true coop structure," says organizer Karrie Emms. "Members will be able to choose their membership level which carries a monthly fee plus a commission percentage to cover the overhead costs however all other asks including monthly coop meetings, cleaning, display set up and day to day operations will be fulfilled by coop members.

"Artists struggle to find funding, to showcase their talents and to develop new skills which will allow them to grow as artists and entrepreneurs. Often the high costs of training, business classes and workshops to improve skills are cost-prohibitive as is the ability to pay for advertising," explains Emms. "For Northern Ontario artists these things become even more challenging because they require travel for classes and vendor events, there are limited venues for unsolicited works that are affordable to the independent artist and often artists in the north feel like their cries for help go unheard. 

“We are open to supporting any northern artist who wants to learn, grow and create within a supportive and inclusive community. There will be opportunities for personal and artistic growth as well as mentorship.  While a few of us are working as a strong and diverse collective to create this opportunity future artists will go through a jurying process to ensure there is a good fit and the coop maintains a positive environment,” said Emms of Agape Designs which is an art studio currently operating in downtown North Bay.

Gateway to The Arts is currently accepting membership applications and is working to secure an appropriate space within the next two weeks but, in order to achieve this the organization must work quickly to recruit new members.

Gateway to the Arts will offer retail gallery space, four artists in residence workspaces, a special membership for one youth and one at-risk member for three months at a time and one guest artist space per month.  

There will be opportunities to host workshops and events such as exhibit openings for guest artists. These opportunities will be decided on by the coop as a whole and will utilize some existing relationships such as the Oak Street Eatery and as permitting allows Gateway City Brewery.  

The coop is currently searching for interested members willing to come on board for 3 months, 6 months or a year in order to finance opening and first and last months' rent on the proposed space.  They are planning an information session where they will be accepting artist applications on Saturday, February 29 at 1 PM at 207 Ferguson Street in North Bay.  

More information can be obtained through the Gateway to The Arts Facebook group.




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