Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a non-profit artist-run centre committed to photography as a multi-faceted and ever-changing art form. Founded in 1979 to establish a supportive environment for the development of photography, Gallery 44’s mandate is to provide a context for reflection and dialogue on contemporary photography and its related practices. Gallery 44 offers exhibition and publication opportunities to national and international artists, award-winning education programs, and affordable production facilities for artists. Through its programs, Gallery 44 is engaged in changing conceptions of the photographic image and its modes of production.
Gallery 44 began in 1979 with a small group of artists in need of production facilities who joined together to share darkroom and studio space. Forming a collective was an important step in making facilities affordable and in creating a supportive community of artists with common goals. In 1980, the collective began mounting exhibitions and in 1981, began offering photography workshops.
Gallery 44 moved from its original location on Niagara Street to Bathurst Street in 1986, where both the production and exhibition facilities were expanded to serve a growing membership. Because of a severe lack of photographic education in elementary and secondary schools, Gallery 44 began its Education in the Schools program in 1987.
In 1994, Gallery 44 moved to 401 Richmond St. W. to improve the centre's exhibition and production facilities and to widen its audience through a more centralized location. Moving to 401 Richmond was an extremely important new direction for Gallery 44, as the building houses a thriving community of artist-run centres, arts-based organizations, and artist studios. Sharing the building has fostered exchange, both in terms of resources and audience/event participation. 401 Richmond also hosts building-wide arts activities and events including Toronto Arts Week, Holiday Market Place, and the Festival of Sound, giving us further exposure to new audiences.
The fact that our membership has tripled since our move to 401 Richmond is a clear indication of Gallery 44's increased visibility and vitality in the community. We currently have over 200 members and 45 supporting patrons. In the past 20 years as photography has become firmly established as an artistic medium, we have witnessed a growing demand for exhibition opportunities for photo-based art, as evidenced by the hundreds of submissions we receive each year.
In addition, Gallery 44 serves an important role in providing artists with affordable darkroom facilities, the only non-commercial one of its kind in Toronto. Despite the rapidly changing photographic technologies now available, we are finding a consistent demand for traditional black and white facilities, which we continue to monitor.