AKA supports the creation and development of artist driven initiatives and emerging practices that speak to, reflect and encourage dialogue in our culturally diverse communities. This includes work in all media by local, national and international artists. Our venues consist of a street-level gallery, billboard and multi-use screening and performance event space; we also source off-site locations for site-specific projects. We are committed to acting as a centre for risk-taking and artistic self-determination produced by a diversity of voices; engaging in critical discourse and intersections with related cultural practices.
The Shoestring gallery was founded in 1971 by five Saskatoon women: Dorothy Boerma, Lorna Russell, Ann Newdigate, Jo Claire, and Betty Meyers. The gallery was among the first in Saskatchewan to prioritize exhibitions representative of the province’s First Nations and Ukrainian communities. In 1982, the Shoestring Gallery was accepted as a member of the Association of National Non-profit Artists’ Centres changing its name to the A.K.A. (Also Known As) Gallery. In 1985 AKA moved to the Saskatoon Warehouse Artspace where it resided for 20 years with The Photographer’s Gallery and Video Verite, (later to become Paved Arts), Tribe Inc. and Blackflash magazine. In 2008 AKA and Paved Arts opened their doors at their current street-level location, 424 20th Street West in the historic Riversdale district. Riversdale is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city and maintains a charged history for many. The neighbourhood and its diverse communities are now facing rapid gentrification.
AKA is the only artist-run centre in Saskatoon, and one of two artist-run centres in Saskatchewan, that present all forms of contemporary artistic expression in the visual arts. We are committed to serving our membership, our public, and contributing to local, provincial, national and international arts discourse through presentation; dissemination and dialogue. Though geographically isolated, Saskatoon sustains a vigorous and diverse arts community. AKA emphasizes Aboriginal and First Nations collaboration and exchange in programming and organizational activities.
In 2016/2017 attendance at AKA’s programming and events averaged 8,000 including exhibitions, school visits, workshops, professional development, artist talks, performances, screenings and off-site events. Art Athina, an international fair where we presented the work of four Canadian artists, had an attendance of 42,000.
Current Board of Directors, 2017-2018
Chair: Sandra Fraser
Vice Chair: Lisa Birke
Treasurer: Levi Nicholat
Secretary: Chiaka McNaughton
Director: Brian Storey
Director: Marcus Miller