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Press Release: Kathleen Bartels joins Toronto’s MOCA as Executive Director and CEO

Internationally recognized leader who directed Vancouver Art Gallery for 18 years

April 2, 2020 – (Traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations, including the Haudenosaunee and the treaty territory of The Mississaugas of the Credit/Toronto, ON): The Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (MOCA) today announced the appointment of Kathleen Bartels as the museum’s new Executive Director and CEO.

Kathleen joins MOCA most recently from the helm of the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) where she served as Director for 18 years. In leading the organization, Kathleen was responsible for growing the annual operating budget from $6M annually to $21M, and successfully raising funds to support this increase. She also led the initial phase of the VAG’s capital campaign raising $85M from the private sector, including the $40M landmark gift from the Chan Family, and $50M from the Province of British Columbia.

“Kathleen’s experience taking successful regional organizations and putting them on the world stage to enjoy both the profile and subsequent funding benefits, uniquely positions her to identify key strategic opportunities for MOCA and guide us into our next phase of development,” said Brad Keast, Chair, Board of Directors and Vice President, Innovation & Development at Dream Unlimited. “We are especially thankful that she is joining us now, as arts organizations across the world face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathleen has led an organization through 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and other tumultuous times, and we are grateful to have her guidance and wealth of experience available to us as we navigate this new reality.”

Through her forward-thinking vision and dedication to established and emerging artists from British Columbia, including the significant work of women and Indigenous artists, and to showcasing leading international artists, Kathleen’s leadership put the VAG on the global stage. In doing so, she also re-ignited the local community’s excitement for this prominent institution and historical city landmark.

During her tenure, Kathleen established the VAG’s Institute of Asian Art in 2014 to recognize the unique and rich demographics of British Columbia and Canada, and its Visual Culture program, which investigates the pervasive world of design, architecture, fashion, film and new media arts. She also significantly enriched the VAG’s permanent collection, growing it more than 60%.

In her new role at MOCA, Kathleen will accelerate and build on her past achievements in program development, audience and membership engagement, as well as fundraising.

“I’m honoured and excited to be joining such a strong staff and Board whose exemplary commitment to contemporary art, community engagement, and institutional collaborations is to be applauded,” said Kathleen. “MOCA is poised to be recognized as a world-renowned contemporary art museum, as well as a cornerstone in Toronto and Canada. While I recognize that these are challenging times, I am committed to leading the institution’s growth and long-term impact in the years to come, with my first and foremost priority being the well-being of MOCA staff and patrons.”

Kathleen will start in her new role at MOCA on April 14, 2020. For more information please contact Nicole Hanley:

About MOCA

MOCA Toronto is motivated by the principle that museums and their programmes are culturally and socially beneficial to the diversity of the communities they serve. MOCA supports and promotes forward-thinking artistic experimentation and provides a community space for enrichment, discourse, collaboration and creativity. Working across all contemporary art forms, MOCA’s programmes empower local artists and engage the Toronto art scene while contributing to the international art community and scholarship.

During its temporary closure, MOCA is offering two online programmes. Shift Key presents a changing gallery of video and new media artworks to connect people through art and experimentation beyond the physical museum, and Viewpoints asks our exhibiting artists to share resources and materials that have been meaningful to their practices.

MOCA is a not-for-profit charitable organization. The evolution of the Museum is made possible through a unique alliance with public sector funders, private donors, members, sponsors and a network of cross-sectoral partners.