margin eras gallery toronto

Toronto art community devastated after beloved gallery forced to close

Despite a desperate crowdfunding attempt to keep its doors open, the Toronto art space Margin of Eras Gallery (MOEG) has closed. 

The CUE-run gallery in Parkdale dedicated to showcasing work from young artists, specifically from racialized, marginalized communities, has shuttered after just two years at 1684 Queen St. West. 

"The reaction from the community has been heartbreaking," says MOEG's co-creative director, Jason Samilski. 

"It shows the importance of this kind of space, and how necessary it is for proper funding to be resourced." 

In December, the gallery launched the campaign Save the MOEG in an attempt to raise $75,000 that would, among many other things, help the team cover basic operating costs for 2020, like rent and utilities. 

It fell well short of its goal, capping at slightly more than $10,000 raised from 144 contributors.

"...We have been forced to make the very difficult but necessary decision to shut down the campaign and close the gallery in the coming months," wrote the team in an Instagram post. 

The gallery's comment section on all social media has since been flooded with messages lamenting of yet another community space felled by rising rent, cuts to arts and culture funding, and what MOEG describes as "rampant gentrification". 

"We are heartbroken," wrote the arts hub TMAC

For DIY spaces, especially those groups that have historically been excluded from main stream arts institutions, it's especially daunting to see MOEG close down. 

CUE, an arts initative that has been operating for 11 years, was one of the most viable groups in the city for government funding.

Since first opening in November 2017, the MOEG has produced 73 events, showed work from 360 artists, and distributed more than $80,000 to artists for project production. 

Yet despite having a highly programmed space that offered artists fees, support still fell short for the 1,300-square-foot space. 

"What it really comes down to on top of the funding issue its the lack of infrastructure for arts and culture in marginalized communities," says Samilski. 

"People get little project grants here and there but these are big conversations we need to have as a sector. The sentiment is we want to see more diversity in arts...I think everyone likes that idea and considers themselves a champion, but money talks, and you have to invest." 

Despite the MOEG closing, CUE will continue to operate and hopefully make some meaningful partnerships in the future to secure a space. 

In the meantime, the group will continue its writer's residency and an annual grant cycle. They also have an exhibition in partnership with Charles Street Video coming up next month.

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