Our Collection /
The Canada Council Art Bank holds the world’s largest collection of the contemporary Canadian art. It includes 17,000+ paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by over 3,000 emerging and established artists, including those from Aboriginal and culturally diverse backgrounds.
Artist Spotlight /
The Art Bank collection is home to over 17,000 original Canadian artworks by more than 3,000 artists. Follow our Artist Spotlight blogs to learn more about the artists in the collection who have made significant contributions to the contemporary Canadian art scene from the 1960s to today.
Operating Guidelines /
/ 1. Suitability
The Art Bank inventory is a “working collection.” Artworks are purchased to be rented to government and private sector offices and boardrooms.
/ 2. Equitability
On April 1, 2001, the Art Bank began its operations under new operating guidelines.
The Art Bank will keep artists informed of any changes in the status of their artworks. Accordingly, artists will be advised if their artwork is lost, stolen, damaged beyond repair or donated to a public collecting institution (as outlined in section 3A). If a work is damaged in a way that affects its integrity, the Art Bank will seek the artist’s advice and permission before restoring the work. If, after assessment by a conservator and consultation with the artist, the work is deemed “damaged beyond repair,” the artist will be entitled to have the work returned at his/her expense, or destroyed by the technical staff of the Art Bank.
There is no longer an option for artists to repurchase their work from the Art Bank.
/ 3. Renewal of the Inventory
The renewal of the Art Bank includes both divesting the Art Bank of works that have never rented and purchasing new work required to meet client needs. The objective is to create an inventory of works that will make it possible for the Art Bank to achieve its goal of a break-even budget.
A. Divestment of Art Bank Assets
In November 1999, the Board of the Canada Council approved a policy that would represent a 16% reduction in the assets of the Art Bank. The reduction in inventory is specifically for works that have rarely or never been rented, works that contain moveable parts, dangerous or fragile materials, dated electronic parts, or works that are of a size that cannot logically be rented to an office environment. The reduction may also include multiples and videos and film that cannot be shown.
Artworks selected with these criteria will be reviewed by the Art Bank staff and considered for divestment. The aim of this process is to ensure that major works by Canadian artists are appropriately placed in institutions better able to exhibit and care for them in all respects. Works divested remain subject to Canadian Copyright Law.
B. New Purchases
When funds are available, the Art Bank will announce a purchase deadline on the Canada Council Art Bank website.
Artists and dealers will be invited to submit one slide (or digital image) per artist of a work created within the previous five years, with the documentation requested on the submission form.
The Art Bank Acquisition Committee, consisting of artists and members of the visual arts community (curator, director or dealer) will meet to select the work for purchase. In order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, the Art Bank Acquisition Committee will adhere to the Canada Council Peer Review Recommendations.
Selections will be based on need and suitability for a’working collection”.
C. Conditions of Purchase
Artwork is purchased in order to be rented to Art Bank clients.
The Art Bank will request permission from the artist to use images of the work for promotional purposes, including use on the Internet.
The Art Bank will be able to divest its inventory of works on a case-by-case basis. Works will either be gifted to a public collecting institution or returned to the artist if deemed “damaged beyond repair”.
The Art Bank retains the right to have minor repairs, cleaning, etc. done by conservation specialists. In cases where the integrity of the work may be undermined, the artist will be asked to either repair the work or approve the work to be done by Art Bank professional staff.
Purchase Program /
Funds permitting, the Art Bank purchases artworks for its collection through an open call across Canada. The works are purchased based on recommendations by a peer assessment committee made up of artists, art administrators, and curators, from across the country.
The artworks are selected based on the following criteria: Artistic excellence; relevance of the artwork in terms of current artistic practice; regional representation; cultural diversity; suitability of the works for lease in an office setting.
The artworks must be current (created within the last five years of the acquisition); created by living Canadian artists or permanent residents of Canada; and submitted directly by the artist or the artist’s representative.
The next deadline for purchases has not been confirmed. A call for purchases, along with the program guidelines and the submission form, will be posted on this page at least 4 months in advance of the deadline date for submissions. If you would like to be notified when our next call for purchases is announced, please send us an email with your name, phone number and email address.
For more information, call 613-566-4414 or 1-800-263-5588, ext. 4479 or contact the Art Bank by email.