Gendai was founded as a not-for-profit public art gallery in 2000 to promote excellence in contemporary art and design with an emphasis on work made by Canadian and international artists of Japanese ancestry (and beyond that, by the broader East Asian community.) In 2009 the mandate of Gendai was shifted to cultivate dialogue through contemporary art, focusing on experimental collaborations with contemporary artists and organizations for the production and dissemination of artwork from East Asian perspectives. Gendai’s original location was in Toronto’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) in the suburb of Don Mills.
In September 2011, Gendai embarked on a new stage in its development by opening a satellite space at Bloor and Lansdowne in downtown Toronto, referred to as the Gendai workstation. With this new space, Gendai d its activities and programming into two parts: focusing on experimental site-specific projects rooted in everyday life and fostering research into sustainable models for small, not for profit arts organizations that, like the Gendai, operate from a basis of ethnic identity. With this extension, Gendai posits itself as an alternative public research entity with an audience that consists of local publics in the various locations Gendai works with, Toronto’s downtown art community, and practioners and researchers from different disciplines that share similar concerns. Our year at the Gendai Workstation saw both our most dynamic, critical and intense year of programming and growth of a community and network of partner organizations, while at the same time being our most financially strenuous year, causing us to have to close its doors after one year of operations.
Gendai is currently carrying out its activities from a mobile landscape, reorganizing into a lightweight, modular and flexible structure to navigate this transition period. We’re operating from a desk at the Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) in Toronto and operates with only one part time staff member who works with a Programming Committee and Board of Directors made up of active and dedicated practitioners in the fields of cultural production. Gendai is currently undergoing fundraising activities to bring the organization operating funding for a more well-funded, sustainable and thriving future.
As a whole, Gendai remainscommitted to its original mandate of creating multi-disciplinary programming encompassing contemporary art, design, performing arts, literature and architecture. Through the work of exemplary cultural producers, Gendai continues to present frameworks within which historical and cross-cultural connections are made to enhance the public understanding of its physical, cultural, social and political environment. In line with Gendai's recent directions, Gendai has been expanding the curatorial emphasis beyond current Japanese Contemporary art to embrace broader geographic and cultural perspectives. By collaborating with different communities and multidisciplinary organizations, Gendai experiments with and produces mechanisms to engage audiences in diverse ways. To be an intellectual resource and provide thought leadership, Gendai seeks to research and address issues relevant not only to the racial constituency of East Asians living in Canada, but also aims to become a globally-conscious gallery that provides a broader context for re-examining the notion of cultural diversity today.
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Programming Committee 2013-2014
Board of Directors
Maria Coates (Secretary)
Marilyn Jung (President)
Yan Wu (Interim Treasurer)