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December 3, 2021

$75,000 OTF Grant Provided MacLaren Art Centre Resources
to Develop Accessible Exhibitions and Programs

Barrie, ON – In 2020, MacLaren Art Centre received the welcomed news that it was receiving a $75,000 Seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to develop MacLaren Access Art: accessible exhibition-related programs and interpretive tools designed in consultation with social service and community groups in Simcoe County. OTF Seed grants were designed to help non-profit organizations pilot new programs.

“By working together, businesses, organizations, communities, and all levels of government can help to make Ontario more accessible,” said the Hon. Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. “The MacLaren has set a wonderful example of this in our community. We know the value art within our society. Through art we find enrichment, understanding and connection.  It is inspirational to see the relationships that have built made through this development, and to know of the positive impact it will have on the lives of many in our area. Thank you to the MacLaren for your great work on this inclusive initiative.”

By partnering with 10 organizations that are experts in reducing barriers, the MacLaren was able to increase access to its exhibitions and collections for audiences that are partially sighted and blind, hard of hearing, or who are living with intellectual and physical disabilities. The online research and virtual program project will be completed in December 2021. In-person versions of the programs will resume in the New Year, in accordance with Ontario’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

“Broadening our capacity to create meaningful art experiences for every member of the public we serve strengthens the fabric of a healthy, creative, and caring community,” said Lisa Daniels, Executive Director of the MacLaren Art Centre. “This grant has allowed us to establish essential community partnerships and to build a framework that will ensure our exhibitions and programs are developed and presented with inclusiveness as a core guiding principle. We are grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation.”

The grant enabled the MacLaren to hire an Accessibility Coordinator to oversee the necessary consultations with partner organizations and to craft accessible programs that are responsive to the needs and feedback it receives from the public. It also provided crucial funds used to hire practicing artists, art therapists and interpreters, among other material costs. The Gallery is indebted to the partner organizations that contributed time and research to MacLaren Access Art: DeafBlind Ontario, CNIB Simcoe Muskoka, DeafAccess, Bob Rumball Home for the Deaf, Alzheimer Society of Simcoe County, COPE Service Dogs, Brain Injury Services, Empower Simcoe, CampHill Communities and Autism Ontario.

The MacLaren Art Centre is the regional public art gallery serving the residents of Barrie, the County of Simcoe and the surrounding area. The Gallery has a permanent collection of Canadian art held in trust for the public and presents a year-round program of world-class exhibitions, education activities and special events. For more information, visit

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Media Contact:

Lisa Daniels
Executive Director
705-720-1044 ext. 260

About the MacLaren:
Today and every day, we acknowledge the land we are on. This land is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, which include the Odawa, Ojibwe and Pottawatomi Nations, collectively known as the Three Fires Confederacy. The local bands consist of the Chippewa Tri-Council, who are made up of Beausoleil First Nation, Georgina Island First Nation and Rama First Nation. We would also like to acknowledge the Wendat Nation (Huron) who occupied these lands prior to the middle of the 17th century. We also recognize the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and the Inuit peoples.

The MacLaren Art Centre is the regional public art gallery serving Barrie, Simcoe County and the surrounding area. The MacLaren is housed in an award-winning building that combines a renovated 1917 Carnegie Library with a contemporary addition designed by Siamak Hariri in 2001. A cultural and architectural landmark in downtown Barrie, the complex includes multiple galleries, an education centre, a garden patio, café, gift shop and framing department.

A must-see travel destination in Ontario, the Gallery showcases a wide range of artwork by contemporary Canadian artists. Exhibitions highlight artwork by regional artists along with works from its significant Permanent Collection. Programming is year-round, from exhibitions to special events to workshops, with activities for all ages.

As a registered charity, the MacLaren Art Centre relies on public and private support for its operations and programmes. The MacLaren gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of its Members, Patrons, Donors, Sponsors, Partners, the City of Barrie, the Ontario Arts Council, the Government of Ontario, the Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage

From Toronto: From highway 400 north, 90 km north of Toronto, take the Dunlop Street East exit to Mulcaster Street and turn left. The MacLaren is one block north on the right hand at the intersection of Collier Street and Mulcaster Street.

Gallery Admission: suggested admission $5
Hours: Thursday-Sunday 11am-4pm
Wheelchair accessible