A letter from our staff

May 3, 2021

Garden of tulips

To our valued patrons,

Somehow, already, it is May. When we first closed our doors last March due to the pandemic, it was always with the hope that we’d return to normal operations by May of that year. Twelve months later and the goalposts have shifted, yet again, and our community has been shaken more deeply than we could have ever imagined.

There have been high points during this pandemic, not least the monumental projections featured in our inaugural Wintertide program this past March. After witnessing the work of David Andrec, Angela Aujla, Krystal Ball and Tarun Lak gracing the monumental windows of the MacLaren Art Centre and the Lakeview Corporate Centre, we took the month of April to pause and consider how to move forward with this year’s ambitious plans.

2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of the landmark renovation and expansion of Barrie’s Carnegie Library by Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects in 2001. Just as Carnegie Libraries were designed with open stacks to encourage free use of the literary materials they held, the 2001 renovation of our building emphasizes long sight lines, warm materials, and the centrality of community space in contemporary artistic practice. Since 1917, this building has been in continuous use by our community as a central meeting space, a site to encounter new ideas, and a hub for nurturing creativity for people at all stages in their lives; since 2001, it has been our home. Now, more than ever, as we experience the short- and long-term impacts of COVID, the importance of these cultural hubs reminds us that we need to celebrate these milestones, safely apart but very much together.

The MacLaren Art Centre will remain closed through this month as we stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The MacLaren team is using this time to design a free series of activities to celebrate the anniversary of our building and the resilience of the people we serve. This program will launch in June, with more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we have free activities for families using materials commonly found at home, some artist talks to listen to while you cook dinner on a quiet evening, and some publicly sited artworks that merit quiet reflection on a long—and distanced—walk outdoors.

With thanks,

MacLaren Staff