Burlington Art Centre Turns 35

The Burlington Art Centre is the largest interactive visual arts centre in Ontario and the seventh largest public art gallery. Home to promising artists of all ages, within its walls are classrooms, studios, lectures and workshops where art is explored, executed and exhibited. A not-for-profit organization whose galleries are open seven days a week with free admission, it is a welcoming place for anyone interested in exploring art. Celebrating its 35th year, 2013 marks the Burlington Art Centre's Jade Anniversary.

As in the virtue of Jade, it's the art the Burlington Art Centre (BAC) commemorates. Since its 1978 inception when a six guild cooperative decided to build an art centre, the BAC has created a timeless link to the community and region. It is with this commitment to the arts that they mark their 35th anniversary in a celebration that helps support their future; an Evening with Jade. The gala event is to be held at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, where an Asian theme shall compliment the affair. The venue will host 700 guests and feature a special performance by Canadian icon Randy Bachman. 

Executive Director Ian Ross has embraced the Centre and the Burlington community since 1992. Believing they are intrinsically linked, he has been a motivating force between the two serving one another. “We have a link to the community and the region through our education program, workshops and professional development,” says Ross. “We connect people to the visual arts at the level they are ready for. People are transformed with their experience here, and that includes beginners as young as four years old and into their nineties.” 

With more than 140,000 visitors annually, a certain draw is the Burlington Art Centre's permanent collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics. Established through the generosity and talent of artists and donors, Ross speaks to its beginnings.

“We decided early on that we wanted our own unique niche to fill, so looked at what artists were doing in our area. We saw pottery, and thought “˜let's be true to our roots'. We began by bringing in folk who loved ceramics. and today have coast-to-coast representation of the best mix of national contemporary ceramic artists across Canada.”

The BAC is a place of remarkable achievements. One definitive accomplishment was in the late 1990s when the Fire + Earth ceramic art exhibit went on tour. “It was the first time we stepped beyond our walls and were recognized by the Canadian government,” says Ross. Fire + Earth included more than 60 artists showcasing traditional functional and sculptural beauty in ceramics. It was featured in several exhibitions at the BAC, in Japan and across the nation. Today 10 per cent of the pieces are on display in the building at all times, and are worth more than $1.5 million.

Enriching lives and inspiring talent is what the BAC does best. It is a place that encourages the imagination and skills of aspiring artists by giving them a home to explore their talent. Offering education, workshops and professional development, the Centre provides a venue for all people to come together through its programs. It is unique in that it houses seven guilds, in turn nurturing and building communities. It is with this community spirit that the Burlington Art Centre wants everyone to join them in their special 35th anniversary celebration.

An Evening with Jade will be as unique an event as the BAC is an art centre and gallery. Engaging an Asian theme, the 700 guests will begin their evening at 6:30 p.m. mingling whilst savouring a menu of Asian fusion delicacies. The main lobby will feature a theme-related performance and a Canadian award-winning jeweller who will sell a limited edition jade and silver pendant designed to symbolize the occasion. In The Community Studio Theatre, there will be a marketplace where BAC artists will display their art for enjoyment and purchase. Guests will have the opportunity to hobnob with the most interesting of people and community at large.

Canada's own Robert Bateman and his wife Birgit will be attending the affair. In fact, Bateman will be honoured for his 35 years of incredible support to the Burlington Art Centre. As a Life Member of the BAC, he has worked with their guilds and taught master classes. Bateman made a significant leadership donation to the BAC Capital Expansion in 2000, and donated three masterworks to their collection. He is especially noted for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of paintings to the BAC Annual Art Auction.

Another notable presence will be the lead sponsor and friend of the BAC, the honourable Michael Lee Chin. Famed for his business mastermind that has earned him billions, it is his perpetual philanthropy that warrants his national commendation. An extraordinary man, Lee Chin's love for the arts and people make him as generous with his time as his donations. Hence, he has agreed to take the stage at “˜Evening with Jade' to introduce Randy Bachman.

A forever rock-star, Bachman's performance at 8 p.m. in the Main Theatre is the pinnacle event of the evening. People remember Bachman from famed rock groups The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. A survivor of the industry, Bachman never stopped what he does best and is currently on tour with his one man show Vinyl Tap.

A storyteller at heart, the performance will be one of songs and their history. Belting out such favourites as “˜Taking Care of Business', Randy will sing and talk to his audience whilst sharing his trip down memory lane. Bachman remembers how each song came about and tells a spell-binding story. One of our own, it is entertainment at its best.

Evening with Jade presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an occasion to donate to the Burlington Art Centre. Expecting a sell-out, tickets are still available and buying one helps secure the future development of the BAC. 
The Burlington Art Centre at 35 is still very young. Increasing in size and enrollment, its accomplishments have been plentiful. Still there are exhibitions and educational programs, studios and activities yet to be developed, and budding artists to be discovered. One specific goal is to expand on the existing ceramic collection for show. Art and people are ever-evolving as is the Burlington Art Centre. And quite simply, in the words of Ross, “It is really about outreach in the community and region.”

For more information:
Evening of Jade, May 3, 2013
Tickets: $175 or $350 per couple
Call 905.632.7796 x 302 for details