Newsletter, January 2021

We are happy to report that, after a drastic decline in distribution activity during the first few months of the pandemic, distribution has picked up since the beginning of our new fiscal year. In fact, our first quarter (from August 1 to October 31) has been the busiest on record! As the world shifted online, Vtape has been able to meet and support the incredible surge of educational requests. Dustin Lawrence has been updating all of our digital files to create beautiful ProRes .mov and H264 .mp4 files, which are perfect for screenings and online educational curriculum. We are continuously increasing the amount of work accessible through closed-captioning, with the support of our artists. Your continued support during this time has been such a boon to Vtape, and we have been working tirelessly to reflect that. Canadian artists’ payments will go out as usual, shortly after January 31, 2021.

Since we closed our offices in mid-March, and public screenings and exhibitions mostly ceased, Vtape has been fortunate to receive some targeted funding support. We would like to thank all of our public funders – the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council, as well as Young Canada Works through the Canadian Museums Association – for their understanding and active assistance as we have learned to operate during a global pandemic.

In addition, we would like to express our enthusiastic thanks to the invaluable representatives of the media arts sector at the Media Arts Network of Ontario and the Independent Media Arts Alliance. MANO has provided much-needed information about government support programs and criteria, and assistance in navigating their complexity, as well as bringing the Ontario media arts community together to share information and emotional support. IMAA has also been a helpful resource, and pulled together an excellent online conference in September-October.

Vtape’s staff decided to use this time to work on organizational development, which has rolled out in a couple of parallel long-term planning processes. Focused on racial equity, services to artists, and the development of digital tools, these processes were facilitated by From Later and Nadia Bello, with a lot of input from staff, community stakeholders, and our board of directors.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our entire board for the enormous amount of work they have put into the organization over the past several years. This has been particularly critical during the renovation of The Commons @ 401 and the fundraising done to finance it; for the development of our new research centre; and, more recently, during an intensive strategic planning process.

The board’s structure has also recently undergone a change: it is now led by co-chairs Andrea Fatona and Lisa Myers, with board members Erika DeFreitas (Treasurer), Oliver Husain (Secretary), Hélène Brousseau, Richard Fung, Jean Gagnon, John Greyson, Michelle Jacques, Serena Lee, Niki Little, and Shelley Niro. An incredible board of directors, for whom we are extremely grateful!

A quick update from Kim Tomczak in Vtape’s digitization centre:

“We continue to make significant progress in digitizing the collection: I estimate that we are well over half-way at this point. The quality of the work in this collection is simply outstanding, and we are so proud to be bringing these artworks into the digital universe. Big shout-out to the team: Dustin Lawrence, Alice Evensen, and Deidre Simmons. Deidre joins the team in her capacity as quality control, looking at each file as it is produced as well as double-checking the inventory, and with around 7 thousand titles, this is an enormous job. Speaking of 7 thousand titles, we recently acquired an LTO-8 archiving unit. LTO-8 cartridges can hold up to 12 TB each, and have a shelf life of 25 to 30 years. Our entire collection can be safely stored on 10 of these LTO cartridges, taking up a mere 12 inches of shelf space. Currently, the shelf space occupied by the various videotape and hard-drive formats is around 810 feet! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions – we love hearing from you (”

Don’t forget to keep us up to date! If you change your address, email address, phone number, or other contact information, please let us know right away. Also, send us an updated bio from time to time – keep your presence on the Vtape website fresh! Although Vtape’s office is closed to the public, staff members are working remotely (and on-site as needed). Most aspects of our operations are continuing, so if you need to get in touch with us, just send us an email or give us a call (at 416 351-1317).