Alberta artist-run centres (ARCs) have existed for over thirty years, providing exhibition and other programming spaces for contemporary visual art. Exhibiting the work of emerging and established artists, these spaces allow artists to experiment, in terms of both form and content. They are non-profit incorporated societies, establishing as their first priority the principles of artistic freedom, research, and development.

They had their early beginnings as localized artist collectives, which sought to respond to the need for exhibition space for local artists and/or experimental practices, and have become organizations that employ professional staff and are governed by a Board of Directors (composed at least in part of practising artists). ARCs exhibit the work of regional, national, and international artists.

Diverse in their programs and services, ARCs seek to broaden dialogues about the arts in their communities (both regionally and nationally), through a variety of outreach and educational initiatives (including artist talks, publications, workshops, and panel discussions). They often provide developmental programs for regional artists, writers, and other cultural workers, through both paid and volunteer opportunities, and initiatives such as workshops or classes. Membership in ARCs is open to all.

ARCs are committed to advocacy for the visual arts, and maintain partnerships with other organizations (both those in the cultural sector and beyond) in order to reach broad and varied audiences. They have been at the forefront of professional treatment of the artist within Canada throughout their histories, affording support to artists through the payment of CAR/FAC exhibition and publication fees and the provision of other resources. Artist-run centres are concerned with diversity of representation, seeking to dismantle barriers that discourage participation in the arts due to race, gender, sexuality, ability, or other forms of systematic discrimination.

The Alberta Association of Artist-Run Centres,
a non-profit society that seeks to:
• • • • • provide a communication network for artist-run culture throughout Alberta;
• • • • • promote the recognition and continued development of artist-run culture;
• • • • • strengthen and provide stability for member organizations;
• • • • • support the continued professionalism of artist-run centres;
• • • • • promote the activities of member organizations through shared initiatives, outreach and education at a variety of levels;
• • • • • advance non-discriminatory practices, and to facilitate inclusive and collaborative dialogues;
• • • • • support equality regardless of gender, orientation, ethnic, racial and national identity, or generational group; and to
• • • • • represent the collective interests of member organizations to external agencies, including all levels of government, funding bodies and advocacy organizations;