Xchanges’ History

As far as we know, Xchanges is the oldest Artists’ Run Centre currently operating in Canada. Many of Victoria’s artists of the past 4 decades have been involved with Xchanges: some had their first solo exhibition here; others have given classes, been active members, and had studios in one of the 4 locations which he have inhabited over the years.

1967–1979

Founded in 1967, Xchanges had its origins in the Signal Hill Arts Centre, located at Signal Hill in an unused section of the Canadian naval yards in Esquimalt, a suburb of Victoria, B.C. Many of Victoria’s most well-known artists had a part in this ground-breaking coöperative effort.

1979–1997

The group moved to a vast loft above Canadian Linen on North Park Street in 1979, built studio partitions and a large gallery, and was rechristened Xchanges. The organization stayed at the North Park location for 18 years, becoming a mainstay in the Victoria exhibition scene.

1997–2009

In 1997 Xchanges relocated to the century-old building at 420 William Street in Vic West — another converted laundry, once a bakery and its stables — and experienced a revitalization of its organization. The new premises made it possible to host events and exhibitions of different natures than had previously been possible, and the labyrinthian layout made interaction between artists more frequent, resulting in a thriving creative community.

2009–now

In February of 2009 Xchanges entered its 4th incarnation, moving to 2333 Government Street, Suite 6E. A smaller and more intimate setting much closer to downtown, the new location shows great promise in continuing to nurture the artists and arts of Victoria.

During the months of January and February 2009, Xchanges artists transformed the former offices of their new location into spacious gallery, individual and shared studio spaces, and common areas. As in previous moves, much of the work was done by the artists themselves, in conjunction with expert tradespeople.

Continuing its 47-year tradition, the Xchanges coöperative hosts affordable studios for artists, as well as a non-commercial gallery dedicated to showing work by emerging and established regional artists. The centre also continues to offer drop-in life-drawing, sculpture, and portrait sessions and other programs and events designed to enhance community interaction with the arts.