Spotted! The Art Truck brings photography to Toronto’s streets

Aimia and the Art Gallery of Ontario have brought the voting for their photography prize outside of the gallery walls.

Photography enthusiasts can participate in one of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s most prestigious prizes of the year without ever stepping foot in the gallery: to get the public more involved with the Aimia/AGO Photography Prize, the two groups have created The Art Truck, and it’s currently roaming Toronto’s streets.

The Art Truck, which looks like a repurposed food truck, features video interviews and displays of the four photographers nominated for the prize this year with iPads that visitors can use to vote for which artist wins the $50,000 grand prize. All four nominees are currently exhibiting their work at the AGO as part of their six-week residencies, but the new truck is a way to bring both the prize and the voting process outside the walls of the gallery and reach a new audience, Sean O’Neill, manager of public programming at the AGO and prize manager of the Aimia/AGO Photography Prize, tells MiC.


The Art Truck departed from Montreal on Sept. 25 and arrived at The Sony Centre for Performing Arts in Toronto on Saturday, making an extra stop at the Kensington Market Art Fair yesterday. Today, the truck will be at Aimia’s Mississauga office before heading to the AGO, where it will stay for its First Thursdays series on Oct. 2 and Nuit Blanche on Oct. 4. More stops throughout the city will be announced soon at the redesigned prize microsite.

The prize was launched in 2007 as The Grange Prize, when Aimia was still known as Aeroplan. In 2013, the prize was renamed to not only reflect Aimia’s new branding, but the expanded nature of the prize, which includes a national scholarship program that gives three young photographers $7,000 to pursue the art form. The prize also has an international focus: in the past, the nominees were split between Canada and that year’s partner country, but the rebrand also came with a fully international nomination process. This year’s nominees come from Canada, Israel, the US and South Africa.

Last year, the prize was promoted through social media and email campaigns to the AGO and Aimia member databases to get people into the exhibition. This year, adding the Art Truck, as well as an OOH buy in Toronto’s PATH near Roy Thomson Hall, will bring it to an art-interested audience that might not otherwise know about the prize, according to Anne Marie Pasquino, senior manager of sponsorship and events at Aimia, tells MiC.

“Especially after a rebranding, our team thought we had to bring this above and beyond what we had traditionally done,” she says. “It’s a way to bring it to the people and gauge their interest and awareness for our partnership and the prize. We don’t know if it’ll work, but here’s the opportunity to try and see what comes of it.”

One member of the voting public will also be given an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto, a private AGO tour, dinner for two at the AGO’s restaurant Frank, an invitation to the Aimia/AGO Photography Prize winner’s event and 15,000 Aeroplan points.

Pasquino says arts and culture is a major source of Aimia’s sponsorships every year, with 80% going to events and programs including the AGO, Art Canada Institute, Canadian Art Foundation, Luminato Festival and Vancouver Art Gallery.

Promotions agency Promostaff created the strategy for the campaign and design agency Sizons outfitted and designed the truck, with A&C handling the public relations side of the campaign.