PAVED Arts came into official existence on March 31, 2003 with the legal amalgamation of The Photographers Gallery (TPG) and Video Vérité (VV), the former a photography resource and exhibition centre, the latter a media access centre. This union joined two organizations with a combined history of over 40 years and the new centre continues to build upon groundwork laid separately and jointly by them, uniting dedicated presentation space with media production facilities as well as independent and collaborative program initiatives.
During its 30-year history, The Photographers Gallery played an important role in the development of photography as a vital independent artistic medium in Saskatchewan and Canada through the establishment of darkroom facilities and exhibition space for photographers, through the creation of the publication BlackFlash, and through the development of its collection.
The Photographers Gallery first appeared in 1970 as The Group, a small cooperative of photographers who were intent on creating production facilities and a supportive environment in which to establish photography as a serious artistic practice. Incorporated in 1973, TPG provided a centre in Western Canada for artists to gather to share knowledge and experience as well as to exhibit work. The centre developed a vigorous exhibition program featuring work by artists from across the country, and initiated many curated exhibitions some of which toured provincially, nationally and internationally.
The Gallery’s collection was established in 1977 when it acquired a body of prints by frontier-woman Mattie Gunterman. Over the years the collection grew to about 1000 pieces through a program of purchasing as well as through donations from many artists. The collection helped to establish the monetary value of artistic photography through the monies paid to artists to acquire their works. The collection continues to be used by curators and researchers.
Video Vérité had its roots in a collaboration between The Photographers Gallery and AKA Gallery that grew out of Playback Cabaret, an AKA video screening program. As a result of this initiative the People’s Video Centre was formed, locating itself in 1989 in an office in the Fairbanks Morse Warehouse Building, which also housed the two founding organizations. In 1991 the new centre incorporated under the name Video Vérité, acquiring staff, by-laws and a newly elected board of directors. In the meantime, equipment was continually updated as funds became available from Canada Council equipment purchase grants.
To support and encourage video producers, Video Vérité’s programming focused on workshops to teach technical skills with equipment and software, a visiting artist program to enrich its curriculum and connect artists, and screening events to publicly display the works of the members and guest artists.