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Mission and History


Become an OPTICA member and make a donation! You will be helping to promote contemporary art while supporting an artist centre known both in Canada and internationally for its vibrancy and innovation, a place dedicated to the exploration and dissemination of new artistic practices, a place of experimentation and exchange! As a member, you’ll receive information on all our exhibitions, conferences, and interpretative activities. Meet the artists as they discuss their work! Receive a selection of our publications, or take part in a personalized visit of our artist studios or in an activity designed especially for you! Such are the privileges of membership, depending on the level of subscription you opt for. Join us!

Apart from these privileges, a tax exemption receipt will be issued for every donation of $50 or more. [Registration No: 12720 1101 RR0001]

OPTICA Endowment Fund

OPTICA has selected the Foundation of Greater Montreal for managing the OPTICA Endowment Fund, which was created in 2007. Anyone can contribute. Your donation is important, because it constitutes a very real gesture that directly supports our activities—exhibitions, conferences, publications, residencies, interpretative activities. By making it, you are also helping us set up the William A. Ewing Visual Arts Research and Residency Program. Join our mission today and help us prepare for the future by becoming one of the many donors to the Ewing Visual Arts Grant!

History of the fund-raising campaign

History of OPTICA Fundraising

OPTICA has organized innovative fundraising campaigns that have proven to be real events on the Montreal scene. One thinks of the “fashion show,” Rêve d’un soir (1996), where talked-about artists, curators and gallery owners walked the ramp in ready-to-wear from the best Montreal designers (Ste-Pierre, Dubuc, Barbeau, etc.). Under the direction of Pierre Beaudoin, general manager at OPTICA and architect of this interdisciplinary mega-party, art critics, journalists, and writers like Marie Cardinal joined in the memorable romp, which was “emceed” by none other than radio show host Myra Cree. It made waves as far away as Vancouver!

In 2001, OPTICA gave patrons the opportunity of acquiring a work by Louise Bourgeois and Nicolas Baier for its benefit event. Every donation included a voucher for the draw and winners were announced on the evening of May 31. Proceeds of the evening were used to establish the OPTICA Publications Fund to give the centre greater editorial independence.

Another big moment was the “Panoramiques” of 2004, an update on the “Instantanés” of 2000. At both events, a number of artists were given a disposable 35-mm panoramic camera and asked to do their best with the cheap device. The undeveloped contents of the camera were put up for sale for would-be collectors to buy, sight unseen. The actual photos were revealed the night of the benefit, which took place at Bar PatroVys, on Mont-Royal Avenue.

Without a doubt, the most talked-about campaign was the benefit concert given by Pierre Lapointe, “La forêt des mal-aimés,” at the Monument-National, in 2007, to highlight OPTICA’s 35th anniversary celebration. On the same occasion, OPTICA announced the creation of the William A. Ewing Visual Arts Research and Residency Program, named after the centre’s founder and first director. The program will award a $25,000 grant for a research, creation or writing project in contemporary art. The campaign was launched at a press conference, with William A. Ewing, fresh from Lausanne, in attendance. Personalities from the arts, entertainment, and business scenes helped form the honorary committee.

The campaign allowed the centre to reach its objective of collecting $20,000 for the OPTICA Endowment Fund. Each combined purchase of a donation with a ticket for the Lapointe show helped establish the groundwork for the Fund, management of which has been placed in the care of the Foundation of Greater Montreal for a period of ten years.

In March 2008, OPTICA was nominated for the 23rd Grand Prix du Conseil des Arts de Montréal for “the creative energy of its activities surrounding its 35th anniversary.”