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Women's Cultural Building
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The Women’s Cultural Building (WCB) was a feminist cultural organization, or women’s collective, that aimed to initiate and support artistic projects and programmes promoting community and feminist concerns. It emerged with the intention of salvaging the presence of a Toronto women’s cultural centre following the dissolution of the Pauline McGibbon Centre in November 1981. The collective from the onset encouraged inclusive membership and collaborative programming, aiming to “develop a critical framework that functions within a feminist discourse by placing work in a social, political and aesthetic context.” The WCB was most active during the years 1982-1984.
Collective members included Kay Armitage, Rene Baert, Carole Conde, Christine Curlin, Rosemary Donegan, Susan Feldman, Colette Gagnon, Lina Fratticelli, Cynthia Grant, Janice Hladki, Johanna Householder, Sandra Janz, Kerri Kwinter, Tanya Mars, Joyce Mason, Christina Ritchie, Tanya Rosenberg, Lisa Steele, Nesya Shapiro and Susan Swan, among others.
Notable WCB programmes include the “Women Building Culture” festival, which included a series of events such as the “Womanfilm” film festival, the “Pork Roasts” exhibitions, “Storefronting” installations, the “Edible Art Show”, the “Five Minute Feminist Cabaret”, as well as a number of performances, talks, and slideshows. Other WCB activities and projects included the Women’s Info Hotline, panel discussions, workshops, toolkits, benefit concerts, poetry readings, window displays, independent film screenings and a resource video library. The collective began activity in November 1981, incorporated in March 1983, and ceased activity in approximately March 1997. The subsequent collective decision to transfer WCB archives to the Women’s Art Resource Center in the late 1990s was celebrated with a final exhibition titled “Building Women’s Culture: Women’s Cultural Building - Selections from the Archive.”
It is important to note that the use of the word “Building” in the collective’s name referred primarily to the verb. Though they did acquire a storefront headquarters for a brief period, the collective organized predominantly in the homes of its members and satellite spaces. The WCB launched their storefront headquarters and gallery at 563 Queen Street West with the Pork Roast’s exhibition on March 14th, 1983. Other possible locations referenced in the papers are 350 College Street, Suite 1 and 984 Queen Street West. Satellite spaces and venues that hosted WCB events included the A.R.C. gallery, A Space, Cameron Tavern, Dufflet Pastries, Nightwood Theatre, Nine Forty, Pages, Pelican, Stagger Lee’s, the Rivoli, Bloor Cinema, and the Centre for Contemporary Photography.
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Created September 7, 2022