An artist-run centre like no other in Canada
From its inception in 1973, the artist-run centre SAW has supported politically and socially engaged art, focusing on the performance and media arts. Many of the world’s best-known artists have exhibited at SAW in the early stages of their careers. Begun by a group of local artists, the gallery was originally part of the legendary café Le Hibou on Sussex Drive, hence the name SAW, an acronym for Sussex Annex Works. In 1981, the centre founded the SAW Video cooperative to support independent video artists and documentarists. During this time, the centre also initiated Club SAW, which has become the most important multidisciplinary space in the region. In 1989, SAW Gallery, SAW Video and Club SAW moved into the historic Arts Court building. Since 2001, SAW Video, now called the Digital Arts Resource Centre, has operated as a distinct organization no longer legally affiliated with SAW, although both share a home at Arts Court and continue to collaborate on many projects. SAW aims to become a premier artist-run centre in Canada and the world, engaging ininnovative programming, outreach and exchange initiatives. With over 30,000 visitors each year, SAW is a prime destination in the Ottawa-Gatineau region for contemporary art.
Cultural diversity at the core of our mandate
SAW promotes contemporary Canadian and international artists, both emerging and established, from diverse cultural backgrounds; presents a contemporary art program with a strong focus on Canadian performance and media art, with bilingual interpretative material produced for each exhibition; adapts to the changing nature of the contemporary arts by maintaining an evolving interdisciplinary presentation space comprised of its exhibition spaces, the Nordic Lab, Club SAW and the SAW outdoor courtyard; serves the needs of diverse communities through audience development initiatives; engages in collaborations with other arts organizations to increase opportunities for exhibiting artists and to outreach to new audiences; and commits to paying artist fees above CARFAC recommendations.