History

Vtape was established in 1980 by artists Lisa Steele, Susan Britton, Rodney Werden, Clive Robertson, and Colin Campbell. In 1982, co-founders Kim Tomczak and Lisa Steele undertook an international research study to determine how best to improve the distribution and dissemination of artists’ video, and in 1983 Vtape was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization.

Since the beginning of its distribution activity, under the continued leadership of Steele and Tomczak, Vtape has passed a number of milestones:

1989 – Vtape collaborates with Chicago-based Video Data Bank to distribute the three-part series Video Against AIDS

1991 – Vtape launches the Fresh Looks: Anti-Racist Film and Video series and study guides

1994 – Vtape co-founds the Centre for Aboriginal Media, which launches the  imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in 1998

1996Art Metropole & Vtape publish VIDEO re/VIEW, a critical anthology on Canadian video art

1999 – Vtape co-founds TRANZ<–>TECH: Toronto International Media Art Biennial (three editions: 1999, 2001 and 2003; see catalogues on our Publications page)

2002 – Vtape develops its Critical Writing Index, a landmark online bibliographic resource for critical publications about the media arts

2004 – The Curatorial Incubator, a mentoring presentation program for emerging curators, is launched; see the Publications page for catalogues from past programs

2005 – Co-founders Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak win the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts

2006 – Vtape launches the Video Art in Canada website

2007 – Vtape presents Analogue: Pioneering Video from the UK, Canada and Poland 1968-88, which tours internationally, and publishes an accompanying catalogue, edited by Chris Meigh-Andrews and Cate Elwes

2011 – Vtape wins the prestigious Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

2011-12 – with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Aboriginal Digital Access Project fast-tracks the digitization of all titles by Indigenous artists in the Vtape catalogue for online preview

2012 – Co-founder Kim Tomczak receives the Ontario Association of Art Galleries Lifetime Achievement Award

2013 – Development Director Deirdre Logue receives the Images Festival/LIFT-sponsored Tom Berner Award

2014EMMEDIA (Calgary) presents “The Alphabetic Order of Things: A Survey of Video Art from Vtape’s collection,” curated by Lindsay Sorell

2014 – We launch a completely new version of the vtape.org website with increased interactivity for clients and researchers, and many resources, including Vtape programming publications, artists’ contracts and other distribution information, and Best Practices Guides for video art conservation made available online, free

2015Dazibao (Montréal) presents “Spécial Vtape Special

2015-18 – Vtape leads planning, fundraising, and project management for The Commons @ 401, a major shared-space renovation project, with partners FADO Performance Art Centre, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC), and Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival; this creates new, shared presentation, workshop/meeting, research, and social space, along with new offices

2017 – The Art Gallery of Ontario, in collaboration with Vtape, revisits the historic Toronto New Works shows of the 1980s, as part of the Toronto: Tributes and Tributaries, 1971-1989 exhibition; for notes, see Program 1 and Program 2

2018 – Vtape joins York University’s SSHRC-supported audiovisual archives project Archive/Counter-Archive; our case study is “AIDS Activist Media: Toronto Living With AIDS & Second Decade

2018 – Cynthia Lickers-Sage and Vtape’s Wanda vanderStoop, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak were awarded the Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General of Canada in recognition of Vtape’s role co-founding the Centre for Aboriginal Media

2019 – Vtape celebrates the 20th anniversary of the imagineNATIVE Festival + Vtape: supporting cultural sovereignty through 20 years of creative alliance

2020 – Vtape and Jenn E. Norton win Best Exhibition award for Norton’s installation at the Hybrid Art Fair (Madrid)

2021 – More than $3.6 million in artists’ fees have been paid out by Vtape from distribution activity – more than 35% of this over the previous decade alone

2023 – Vtape celebrates 40 years since it was first incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in Ontario

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