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Gallery A and Art Lab


The goal of Gallery A and Art Lab is to serve the arts community as an accessible professional development opportunity for artists and curators. Programs provide a platform to individuals and communities wishing to present and discuss artwork, share ideas, collaborate, find encouragement and boost inspiration. They are artist-driven, self-guided and flexible.

Unlike the rest of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, these spaces are not curated by the gallery. Instead, artists apply through a competitive process and applications are selected by a committee of previous participants from the Durham Region. Priority is given to underrepresented artists and projects that encourage experimentation, collaboration and align with the RMG’s Statement of Purpose.

Programs are divided into three main categories: Learn, Explore, and Present

  • Learn: Professional Development

    Artists have access to self-guided professional development opportunities throughout the year. Workshops include support in artistic development, documentation of works, information about arts funding and more. We encourage artists to develop their practice by providing time for peer-to-peer critiques, access to library and archives and opportunities for artist talks. Workshops are ongoing and more information is available through the RMG website and the newsletter.

  • Explore: The Art Lab Artist Residency

    Artist residencies are important opportunities for artists to produce new work, engage the public and explore new ideas. The Art Lab residency program is unique in that it is only offered to artists who propose to experiment with new ideas, take risks and make dramatic departures from work they have done in the past. For example, artists may want to consider working in a new medium, with a collaborator, integrating another artistic discipline (i.e. performance, music etc..) or pursuing a community collaboration with outside partners. There are no expectations in terms of producing a completed work or body of work, but instead, artists are encouraged to make mistakes, try something new and explore.

    Selected artists have access to the Art Lab artist’s studio during their residency. For exceptional projects artists may also request use of Gallery A if they are proposing large-scale installations or projects that require additional space. In this context, Gallery A is not used as a formal exhibition space, but rather an open studio that the public may wander into and engage with the artist while they are on site. Residencies are artist-driven, self-guided and flexible so artists work independently but may request support from staff at any point. Residencies typically span 6-8weeks. Depending on availability, artists may also be invited to give workshops or artists talks.

  • Present: Gallery A Exhibitions and Events

    Artists, collectives, curators, arts professionals and researchers may apply to use Gallery A to present exhibitions and events. We encourage a wide range of project proposals including solo, group and curated exhibitions; artist and community collaborations, special events, film screenings, symposiums, and community art projects. Exhibitions that have been presented elsewhere in Durham Region in the last 3 years are strongly discouraged. Exhibitions typically span 3-4weeks, and events are proposed as needed. Depending on availability, artists may also be invited to give workshops or artists talks.

  • General Guidelines

    • Photography is permitted by visitors for personal use only or by RMG staff for promotional purposes
    • Gallery A cannot be used for fundraising nor can admission be charged for events. Artists may however sell artworks.
    • All food or beverages must be arranged through the RMG special events coordinator and its caterers
    • All print or online publications must use the design template provided by the RMG
    • Gallery A may be used for meetings, screenings, symposiums or gatherings during your exhibition, and may not always be available for public viewing during opening hours
    • All artists are responsible for leaving the space as they found it. Staff and artists work together to repair and paint walls, and keep floors from being damaged
    • There is no storage available
    • There is no internet access
    • There is no ventilation in the Art Lab so processes with toxic fumes (i.e. encaustics, aerosols, oils, etc…) are not permitted.
    • The Art Lab studio is highly visible to the public. Artists are asked to use discretion if working with nudity or explicit materials.

  • What is included?

    • Installation and lighting assistance
    • E-vite, print invitation and wall label template
    • The production of didactic panels and labels
    • Limited promotion through RMG newsletter and social media
    • Insurance and security monitoring
    • Designated time and space for an opening reception, artist talk and peer-peer feedback session
    • Assistance and access accommodations for artists with disabilities
    • Free access to professional development workshops

  • What is not included?

    • The cost of printing invitations
    • Food, beverages or liquor licenses
    • Artist or reproduction fees
    • Catalogues or publications
    • Framing and Art materials
    • Art sales – all purchase enquiries are directed to the artist(s)
    • Transportation, living accommodations or per diem

  • Who can apply?

    • Professional artists and curators who have
      • specialized training in their artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions)
      • produced an independent body of work
      • maintained an independent professional practice for at least three years following the completion of specialized training in the field.
      • not exhibited at the RMG / Gallery A in the past 3 years.
    • Artist collectives with one or more professional artist or curator.
    • Community groups led by one or more professional artist or curator.
    • Arts professionals and researchers pursuing topics related to the RMG’s Statement of Purpose, Core Values, and priority criteria
    • Post-secondary students, pursuing education in fine arts or related field

    For more information, please contact Leslie Menagh: Manager of Public Programs & ArtReach at or call 905.576.3000 ext. 108. Please Contact the Gallery A Coordinator and Technician if this format is not accessible to you.

  • Priority Criteria

    We welcome project proposals from all eligible applicants. In alignment with the RMG’s core values to provide a platform for creative thinking and ideas while fostering an environment of inclusivity and collaboration, priority is given to projects that:

    • Engage artists residing in the Durham Region;
    • Align with the RMG’s statement of purpose, specifically to share, explore and engage communities through the continuing story of modern and contemporary Canadian art; and/or
    • Share multiple perspectives and engage underrepresented or marginalized artists. This includes, but is not limited to artists, art practices and communities that are Aboriginal, Culturally Diverse (POC), Deaf, Disabled or LGBT2Q.

  • How are projects selected?

    A peer committee comprised of members of the Durham Region arts community review proposals and select projects. Assessment criterion is based on the artistic merit of the artist(s), the merit of the proposal and priority criteria.

  • Cost

    It’s Free. This space provides accessible opportunities for local artists to display their work and engage in community projects. As such, the use of this space is free of charge. While artist fees are not paid, participating artists will have access to professional development opportunities, hands-on workshops and peer critiques. Some artists may also be engaged to give artist talks, teach art classes and provide workshops, based on their experience and availability.

  • Fulfilling the Legacy of Aleen Aked

    photo of Aleen Aked

    Paving the way for collaboration, local artistic exposure and the growth of our vibrant arts community.

    Elizabeth Aleen Aked was an accomplished artist and a woman with a strong sense of the history and culture of the places she lived, especially her summer home and studio just north of Tyrone, Ontario. Miss Aked died in 2003; in her estate, a generous portion of her legacy was gifted to The Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

    With the support of the Aked Endowment and funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the RMG is embarking on an exciting new initiative aimed at fostering a thriving local arts community. During the summer of 2014, we renovated our space to create a professional exhibition space reserved for exhibiting the work of local artists, community collaborations, and themed group exhibits.

    Opportunities are now available for community partnerships and special initiatives as well as an annual artist residency that prioritizes artists who wish to experiment with new ideas, collaborate, and work in new directions. Exhibiting artists will have opportunities to give public talks on their work, participate in professional development workshops, and give and receive critical feedback from peers. Programming of this space is separate from our curatorial planning and proposal selections will be made through a jury of local artists and arts professionals.


Interested in applying for Gallery A and Art Lab? Next Submission Deadline: March 15, 2017.

Applications are accepted online via our online form. We suggest that you have all your materials ready before you begin the application. Online applications will close at 11:59pm on March 15, 2017.

Apply Online Now!


If you are unable to complete the online form, we will accept applications that are delivered to the RMG Front Desk. Please download and print the application form and include it with your images and support material on a CD or USB stick. Please note that application materials will not be returned. Mailed applications must be postmarked March 15, 2017.

Please contact Leslie Menagh, Gallery Educator, at or 905.576.3000 ext. 105 for more information about your application.