Mandate & History

Open Space building, 1976


Open Space supports experimental artistic practices in all contemporary arts disciplines, acting as a laboratory for engaging art, artists, and communities.



Professional artists are at the core of our mandate to

• advance new areas of art production and criticism;
• provide artists with opportunities to develop, present, and disseminate work;
• engage diverse audiences in contemporary visual, sound, literary, media, and performance arts;
• expand the roles and the status of artists and contemporary art of all media;
• adhere to professional codes of ethics;
• pay professional artists’ fees;

• operate in a fiscally responsible manner to further the Society’s objectives.


In 2009, Open Space Arts Society adopted values and operating principles in the following three areas:


Open Space encourages artistic excellence and exploration by

• supporting investigative, experimental projects

• recognizing risk-taking as a component of excellence;


Open Space invites engagement in the contemporary arts by

• participating in local, national, and international social and cultural contexts;

• offering financially accessible programs;

• stimulating critical exchange, dialogue, and debate;

• supporting freedom of expression;

• communicating transparently and honestly;

• acting with respect and trust in all relationships;

• advocating for artists and the arts;

• acknowledging the contributions of volunteers;

• governing with a visible and active board;

• providing the major contemporary arts centre in the region.



1971 Gene Miller begins programming visual art, theatrical performances, and literary events at 510 Fort Street. 


1972 The centre is incorporated in October under the name The Greater Victoria Theatre Box Society. Music programming begins with Don Druik’s piano and electronic compositions. 


1975 510 Fort Street is purchased. 


1977 The Theatre Box Society changes its name to Open Space Arts Society. 


1978 New music begins with Bill Bartlett’s and John Celona’s Collaboratory


1978 Sat-Tel-Comp is one of the first telematic video transmissions utilizing satellite technology; this project identified Open Space as a leader in new media. 


1983 Diana Burgoyne’s performance Digital Body in the downtown areas of Victoria is one of the earliest experiments with electronic sound as part of an interactive performance. 


1986 Open Space initiates the Open Ears Series with the new music concert series Monday Nights at Open Space


1987 Open Space receives national attention for its Gallery on Wheels project.  


1996 Open Space board moved to dissolve Open Space; special members meeting reverses the dissolution decision and elects a new board. Volunteers James Lindsay, Roz McMurchy, and Dianne Searle manage Open Space for a year until funding and operations stabilize.  


1998 Open Space board and staff contract a facilitator to develop a Strategic Plan.  


1998 Open Space website is initiated as a programming space.  


2001 Open Space begins a partnership with Interactive Futures, an international symposium, art installation, and new media festival affiliated with the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival. 


2004 Open Space begins developing a comprehensive print, audio, and digital Resource Centre @ Open Space in 1999 and launches it in 2004 with the support of the Vancouver Foundation.


2004 Audiospace extends the physical space of the artist-run centre by presenting audio works designed specifically for web dissemination. 


2008 Open Space establishes the Open Space Endowment, managed by the Victoria Foundation.


2013 Audiospace develops a physical exhibition space solely dedicated to sound.


2014 France Trépanier begins her residency as Aboriginal Curator.