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The Artropolis exhibitions were held in Vancouver in the years 1987, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001, and 2003. Atropolis’ purpose was to feature the works of contemporary British Columbia artists in non-traditional exhibition spaces. Artropolis’ impetus came from the success of the October and Warehouse Shows in 1983 and 1984. These predecessors to Artropolis began in the tradition of “salons des refuses”, as a reaction to the Vancouver Art Gallery’s plans for the show “Art and Artists: 1931 to 1983.” Intended to celebrate the Gallery’s re-opening in new facilities (the former court house at 750 Hornby Street), the exhibition was considered too exclusive by members of the Vancouver art community, who felt the Gallery should expand their exhibition programming to include emerging local artists. In response, the October Show was conceived and organized collaboratively, and featured over 120 artists. It also gave rise to the formation of the Vancouver Artists League. The Warehouse Show followed in 1984; it took place on seven floors of 522 Beatty Street, featured artwork by approximately 190 artists, and drew 10,000 visitors.
The first Artropolis took place in 1987 and was held at 788 Beatty Street. Artropolis 90 took place at what is now the Roundhouse Community Centre. Artropolis 93 was held in the former Woodward's building at 100 West Hastings Street. The 1997 version of Artropolis was entitled Browser. It again took place at Roundhouse Community Centre, but in a smaller exhibition space. Both Artropolis 2001 and 2003 were held in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Broadcasting Centre at 700 Hamilton Street.
The Vancouver Artists League and the Unit 306 Society organized Artropolis 87. In 1988, the non-profit A. T. Eight Artropolis Society was created to undertake future exhibitions in the tradition of the earlier shows. The Board of Directors failed to register the society with the British Columbia Registrar of Companies in 2005. In 2004, grant applications for a proposed 2005 exhibition were rejected. As a result of these setbacks, the A. T. Eight Artropolis Society ceased to exist in 2005.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of records relating to the planning, administrative, fundraising, promotional, documentary and curatorial activities of the Artropolis exhibitions. These materials include: budgets, grant applications, proposals, research files and site plans; correspondence, financial statements, fundraising letters, logos, licenses and contracts, employee and volunteer files, minutes and reports; press releases and sponsorship agreements, banners, brochures and posters; and artists’ résumés and applications, attendance records, comment books, exhibition catalogues, scrapbooks, photo albums, photographs, video recordings, and artwork.
The records are arranged into the following sous-fonds: Artropolis 87 (1984 - 1990); Artropolis 90 (1987 - 1991); Artropolis 93 (1990, 1992 - 1993); Browser Artropolis 97 (1992, 1997 - 1998); Artropolis 2001 (1988, 1999 - 2001); Artropolis 2003 (1988, 1992, 2001 - 2005).