RMG Fridays return, funded by the Tourism Relief Fund

In November 2022, the RMG received a non-repayable contribution of $20,000 from Central Counties Tourism to support RMG Fridays.  Prior to the pandemic, RMG Fridays were a highlight of the events calendar in Durham Region.  These free community events were designed for all ages and have featured live music in our Permanent Collection gallery; short film screenings courtesy of Durham Region International Film Festival (DRIFF); and food and drink from various Durham-based businesses. This is part of the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).  Central Counties Tourism received $8.65-million from FedDev Ontario to to help local tourism organizations and businesses safely welcome back visitors, recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepare for future growth. 

“The RMG was thrilled to receive this support for RMG Fridays to enable us to hold these events outdoors in summer 2022 as audiences became more comfortable gathering.  We supported artists and performers we otherwise would not have been able to host, attracting over 1100 people to our events.”

  • Lauren Gould, CEO, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Since relaunching RMG Fridays in 2022, we’ve featured local musicians and performers such as: Dizzy, Wooly, NERiMA, Division Street, Desarae Dee, Hunter Sheridan, EQUAL, L CON, David Shewchuk, and Durham Storytellers. These Fridays of the month have continued to feature film screenings by Durham Region International Film Festival and free tours of our exhibitions by the RMG’s team of curators.

The RMG plans to continue this popular series in early 2023.

About Central Counties Tourism

Central Counties Tourism is the provincially-funded not-for-profit dedicated to developing, supporting and promoting tourism in Durham Region, York Region and the Headwaters Tourism Region.  Since their inception, they have assisted dozens of municipalities through destination development and hundreds of tourism related businesses grow their capacity, strengthening the visitor economy in the region. 

About the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

The Government of Canada’s $500-million Tourism Relief Fund is helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth. The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario.

RMG unveils new mural by Jon Colwell

RMG unveils new mural by Jon Colwell
Erin Szikora, Project Co-Curator, Missy LeBlanc, Project Co-Curator, Jennifer French, MPP for Oshawa, Leila Timmins, Senior Curator at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Lauren Gould, CEO at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Oshawa, ON:  On Friday, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) was pleased to unveil one of two community-informed murals at the gallery, thanks to a $44,700 Community Building Fund grant from the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Trillium Foundation as part of the Mamanaw Pekiskwewina | Mother Tongues: Dish With One Spoon Territory project. Local MPP Jennifer French and one of the project curators Erin Szikora spoke to the impact of this grant, which was awarded in 2021.

“It was wonderful to appreciate the mural by Jon Colwell as it is showcased at the RMG,” said Jennifer French, MPP for Oshawa. “I am grateful that the OTF has invested in our local gallery and the Mamanaw Pekiskwewina | Mother Tongues: Dish With One Spoon Territory project. This investment means that the community of Oshawa can experience art and Indigenous languages in various ways. Oshawa as a host community has appreciated the art and creativity which reflected our community. Thanks to the funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Mother Tongues has been a tremendously successful and engaging project,” added French.

The mural by artist Jon Colwell was on display at the Delpark Homes Centre Branch of the Oshawa Public Library before being installed at the RMG.  It will ultimately be gifted to Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle.  Developed in consultation with local Indigenous community members, the mural reflects the vibrancy and diversity of Oshawa’s Indigenous community, increasing Indigenous visibility and representation in public spaces across the city.  Another mural, by artist Jay Havens, is still on display at the Jess Hann Branch Library.  It will be permanently installed at the Carea Community Health Centre.  Both murals were produced as part of an outreach program connecting local language communities to the exhibition curated by Missy LeBlanc Taskoch pipon kona kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew | Like the winter snow kills the grass, the summer sun revives it. 

Jon Colwell’s mural on view at Oshawa Public Libraries – Delpark Homes Centre Branch, 1661 Harmony Rd. N., Oshawa.
Jay Haven’s mural on view at Oshawa Public Libraries – Jess Hann Branch, 199 Wentworth St. W., Oshawa.
Jay Haven’s mural on view at Oshawa Public Libraries – Jess Hann Branch, 199 Wentworth St. W., Oshawa.

The project also included a two-part panel series exploring the importance of Indigenous languages with artists, language teachers, and community organizers who are at the front lines of language revitalization work in our communities.  In partnership with Oshawa Public Libraries, the RMG also hosted a Story and Song event to introduce children and youth to Anishnaabemowin with Melody Crowe.  Anyone can download a free printable copy of the Story and Song: Anishinaabemowin Colouring Book illustrated by Indigenous artists Sabrina Fontaine, Mem Ireland, Sheri Osden Nault, Skye Paul, and Michael Tiggelman, with Anishinaabemowin translations provided by Melody Crowe.

“We are committed to centering Indigenous voices in the gallery and working to address structural inequities perpetuated by the continued impacts of colonialism.  This project was beautifully conceived by Missy LeBlanc; as the exhibition travelled the country each host city or town developed their own outreach project to reflect that local community.  We’re grateful to the artists, participants, Missy, and Erin for their contributions to project, and to OTF for their funding support,” said RMG’s CEO Lauren Gould. 

Mamanaw Pekiskwewina Mother Tongues: Dish With One Spoon Territory was awarded the Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries (GOG) Public Program Award at an event on November 28, 2022.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery: The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) is the largest public art gallery in Durham Region.  We believe that art cultivates connected and caring communities.  As an artist-centered and community-oriented public art gallery in Durham Region, we bring people from diverse backgrounds together to engage with art that inspires new perspectives, generates meaningful conversations, and creates a sense of belonging.  We build relationships with diverse artists and communities through art. The RMG works in collaboration with artists, partners, and audiences to present dynamic and inspiring collections, exhibitions, and programs in an inclusive and equitable environment.

Today, the RMG’s collection of over 4,700 works focuses on telling the continuing story of Canadian abstraction.  Each year we present Permanent Collection exhibitions alongside special exhibitions of contemporary art and artists.  We prioritize engaging diverse audiences in new and familiar ways through our programming.  We foster community connections and partnerships to create a greater sense of belonging.  We reimagine the gallery, making space for all.  Annually, we welcome 38,000 visitors and 10,000 participants to engage in our: exhibitions, education programs, volunteering opportunities, event spaces, shop, artist-in-residence program, and digital programming.  Admission to the RMG is FREE and we typically offer over 100 free public programs each year.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations celebrates 40 years of grant-making in Ontario and making a lasting impact in communities. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit otf.ca to learn more.

National Day for Truth + Reconciliation – September 30th, 2022

Last year our team spent some time considering how we wanted to mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  We decided to close to the public and take the day for team and self-directed learning.  We began our day by each sharing a personal land acknowledgment using guidance generously given to us by Trina Moyan, nehiyaw iskwew (Plains Cree) artist, writer, and producer; we took time to engage with resources put together by our team, and had opportunities for group learning and discussion. The second half of our day was spent engaging in self-directed learning. For many, this meant diving deeper into the list of resources shared internally and attending local commemorations. For our Indigenous members of staff, it meant unplugging from work and spending the day whichever way they needed to.  Overall, it felt like we were honouring the intention of the 80th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report

Publically, we shared resources with our community that were generously put together by two members of our team, Samuel Powless who worked with us as our Manager of Visitor Engagement until last month, and Erin Szikora, Greenspace Project Coordinator. That list and last year’s statement are here.  Our hope was to provide a starting place – or a place to continue – your own learning.

One of the commitments we made last year was to revisit our land acknowledgment.  It was written internally with support from Leila Timmins, Samuel Powless, Erin Szikora, and myself. Below, I share an annotated version of that land acknowledgement, as a way to demonstrate the learning we have collectively undertaken and to give recognition to the scholars who have helped us along the way.

As this country continues to navigate what this day means, the RMG will once again close to the public on September 30.  We’ve had new members join our team and will once again take the day to learn, participate in commemorations, and continue the conversation around how we – individually and as an organization – can continue to support and advocate for the self-determination of Indigenous communities. 

With thanks,

Lauren

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is in the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. This land has been the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg since 1700; before that time, it was stewarded by various communities belonging to the Haudenosaunee and Wendat confederacies. It is covered under the Williams Treaties and the Dish with One Spoon Wampum.

This area continues to be home to many Indigenous people from across Mishiike Minisi. We recognize the sovereignty of all Indigenous nations and are grateful for the opportunity to learn, live, and work on this land.

We acknowledge that the RMG is in treaty land, and respect our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the land. We also recognize the continuing impacts of colonialism and our responsibilities to redress the ways this has helped shape our organization. We are committed to working to address structural inequities and to centering Indigenous voices in the gallery.

RMG announces project team for community arts greenspace

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (the RMG) is planning big changes to expand public access and use of the large greenspace behind the gallery, transforming it into a community arts greenspace by spring 2023.  So far this year the RMG has hosted three RMG Friday events outdoors, with over 500 attendees at a performance by local bands Dizzy and Wooly in May.  The space is also regularly used by RMG summer camps.

Lauren Gould, CEO at the RMG, shares “Our goal is to create a significant outdoor space through creative placemaking and placekeeping that will lead to greater community well-being for all.  This greenspace will encourage people to come downtown and experience a recreational and cultural hub.  We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be working with LeuWebb Projects and Brook McIlroy to bring this project to life.”  

The project will include:

  • Improving the greenspace through accessible, artist-designed gathering and play spaces
  • Addition of a permanent shade structure and seating
  • Creation of an Indigenous medicine and butterfly garden in collaboration with our partners
  • Adapting and creatively using the slope to improve access throughout the space
  • Creating a welcoming gathering space on our front steps
  • Commissioning and restoration of public artwork(s)

Additionally, to align with the RMG’s goals of improving greenspace and providing a safe and secure area to support expanded programs and services, the City of Oshawa funded and installed a perimeter fence in the outdoor space in fall 2021.

“The City of Oshawa is eagerly looking forward to seeing the completion of the RMG’s arts greenspace. This community outdoor space will be a feature in the heart of our city that will be enjoyed by community members and will attract new visitors to the downtown,” said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter.

Community consultation is vital to the project team.   The RMG recruited an advisory circle of community members to provide feedback at key milestones, and PROCESS consultants have actively gathered feedback at RMG events.

LeuWebb Projects shared “We’re excited to be a part of this creative initiative for a new type of greenspace and are looking forward to collaboratively building on the great work taking place at RMG to open up even more access to arts and culture for communities in Oshawa and the Durham region.”

The RMG is an asset for Oshawa and Durham residents and this project will develop a creative, community space for all to use and enjoy.  Follow the RMG on social media and subscribe to their e-newsletter to keep up to date on the design as it develops and learn how to get involved.

About the Project Team

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) is the largest public art gallery in Durham Region.  We believe that art cultivates connected and caring communities.  As an artist-centered and community-oriented public art gallery in Durham Region, we bring people from diverse backgrounds together to engage with art that inspires new perspectives, generates meaningful conversations, and creates a sense of belonging.  We build relationships with diverse artists and communities through art. The RMG works in collaboration with artists, partners, and audiences to present dynamic and inspiring collections, exhibitions, and programs in an inclusive and equitable environment.

Today, the RMG’s collection of over 4,700 works focuses on telling the continuing story of Canadian abstraction.  Each year we present Permanent Collection exhibitions alongside special exhibitions of contemporary art and artists.  We prioritize engaging diverse audiences in new and familiar ways through our programming.  We foster community connections and partnerships to create a greater sense of belonging.  We reimagine the gallery, making space for all.  Annually, we welcome 38,000 visitors and 10,000 participants to engage in our: exhibitions, education programs, volunteering opportunities, event spaces, shop, artist-in-residence program, and digital programming.  Admission to the RMG is FREE and we typically offer over 100 free public programs each year.

LeuWebb Projects

LeuWebb Projects is the creative union between artists Christine Leu and Alan Webb, through which they apply their professional design backgrounds to produce moments of beauty in the public realm. Since 2011, they have created more than 20 site-specific artworks across the world. With each piece, Leu and Webb summon their shared artistic and architectural expertise in exploring how a site’s qualities can serve as metaphors for storytelling and critical discourse.

Art and architecture share an integral relationship, meeting at many points including visual, spatial and tactile expression. The unique approach of LeuWebb Projects lives within the space shared by art and architecture, their practice fueling hybrid forms and new directions within the contemporary visual arts tradition. Light, texture and sound are key components of their practice that they weave together through the innovative use of materials and responsive technologies to create art that is not only seen, but also experienced.

Brook McIlroy

Brook McIlroy is an award-winning landscape architecture, planning, urban design, and architecture firm with offices in Toronto, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg. As a unique, multi-disciplinary practice, we design projects as whole environments, addressing all scales and facets from community visions to detailed design and construction administration of parks, streets, buildings, and infrastructure. Over 21 years, we have worked extensively with municipalities, post-secondary institutions, and private developers in the design and creation of streetscapes, parks, public art, waterfronts, and design guidelines. Our progressive focus on the public realm and placemaking cerates lively, people-oriented spaces that combine landscape architecture with cultural interpretation and programming.

We work in the medium of the built and natural environments driven by a belief that we have been given an incredible gift in Canada, and an opportunity to get it right – to create environments where people can prosper and thrive while protecting the land, water, air and the other species that make life possible. This work is driven by a uniquely Canadian design ethos derived from research into place, diverse cultures, Indigenous world views, sustainability, natural materials, and the application of new technologies.

PROCESS

PROCESS is a strategy, engagement, communications, and planning studio. Through creative, collaborative, equitable and community-driven approaches, we transform how we plan, tell new stories and implement change.

People are at the centre of our work. Our curiosity drives us to solve complex problems and leads to responsive and meaningful outcomes.

Sharing our new Strategic Plan

For the next three years we’re focusing on connection, creative, and care.

As the RMG’s previous plan, Forging Change Through Creativity, came to an end in 2021, the team embarked a collaborative approach to develop our new strategic plan with PROCESS consultants.   At the onset, the RMG and PROCESS prioritized critically thinking about and meaningfully incorporating equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice within both the process and the final plan. 

We engaged the full staff team and Board of Directors throughout, completed a public survey, and led a focus group with community partners.  This ensured we were grounding the next three years from a place of common understanding of what we all want for the RMG, for artists, and for our community.

Our values of care; artist-centered and creative; equity and justice; relationship-based and collaborative; accessible and inclusive; accountable and open; led to a vision and mission that resonate with the team, and we hope, with everyone who engages with us. 

Vision

Art cultivates connected and caring communities.

As an artist-centered and community-oriented public art gallery in Durham Region, we bring people from diverse backgrounds together to engage with art that inspires new perspectives, generates meaningful conversations, and creates a sense of belonging.

Mission

We build relationships with diverse artists and communities through art.

The RMG works in collaboration with artists, partners, and audiences to present dynamic and inspiring collections, exhibitions, and programs in an inclusive and equitable environment.

I’m truly proud of the time, thought, and care we put into this plan.  We invite you to explore the full strategic plan and the priorities and goals that we’ve set to help us achieve our vision. 

With gratitude,

Lauren Gould, CEO