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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.

  • 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? The next round of applications will open in August 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 October 15, 2017.

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