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Central Ontario Art Association
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The Central Ontario Art Association (COAA) is a non-profit organization that was formed in 1954 as the Five Counties Art Association with the goal of bringing together artists and existing artist groups in Halton, Peel, Dufferin, Wellington, and Waterloo counties in order to provide greater opportunities in art instruction, encourage art appreciation, pool area efforts and resources, develop leadership in visual art, and foster inter-group cooperation and participation.
In the early 1950s, Lloyd Minshall, District Representative of the Community Programs Branch of the Ontario Department of Education, and Gordon Couling, art professor at the Macdonald Institute of the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, determined that it would be beneficial to foster cooperation among artists in the region. In 1954 they organized a series of meetings for art instructors that led to the formation of the Five Counties Art Association Teachers’ Council, which organized an exhibition and several sketching trips that year. In 1957, the organization became an open members’ association, with the teachers’ council responsible for instruction and learning opportunities and the jurying of exhibitions, and the association responsible for organizing activities and exhibitions. In 1964, the association changed its name to Central Ontario Art Association to incorporate an expanding membership, and in 1967, the executives of the teachers’ council and the association were merged to become one entity.
The COAA is administered by an executive consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, past president, and committee chairs. Committees in existence over the association’s history include: Membership, Program (or Workshops), Exhibition, Nominating, and Bulletin/Newsletter. In the early years, district representatives (or advisory directors) were also involved in administration. The association was originally sponsored by the Ontario Department of Education, Community Programs Branch, and also received grants and assistance at various times from the Art Institute of Ontario and the Ontario Council for the Arts.
The main activities of the COAA have remained consistent over the years. These activities, through which the COAA accomplishes its goals, include workshops and sketching trips, annual juried and members’ exhibitions, and the publication of a newsletter. An annual weekend of workshops, as well as the annual general meeting, is held with the COAA’s sister association, the East Central Ontario Art Association, at the Geneva Park YMCA Conference Centre on Lake Couchiching. Today, the COAA encompasses over 300 artist networks.
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Contents of the fonds and the COAA website.