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Claire Coutts and her ARIIVA experience at The New Gallery

My ARIIVA internship was an excellent opportunity for furthering my work in the arts. In the six months I spent at The New Gallery I was working with their large collection of materials that make up the Resource Centre. Before I received this internship, I was interested in archival materials but was intimidated by the gate-keeping and the institutionalization of materials. A majority of this position was working hands on with archival materials, including learning conservation. With the help of volunteers, interns and TNG staff, I moved the Resource Centre out of the TNG basement and into the NG Tower, where it currently resides. I outsourced the digitization of the slide library, as well as the VHS collection. I was able to learn a lot in a very short period of time, and pass on my work to people who have an interest in this community resource.

I came out of the ARIIVA internship with a renewed interest in artist-run culture. In my undergrad I frequented the local artist-run centres, but seeing TNG function throughout the years in the archive helped me develop an understanding of the resiliency of these small centres. I was also allowed to work with former staff of the Resource Centre in the form of consultation, including Johanna Plant-Donnely, who wrote a dissertation on archives and artist-run culture. I took this opportunity to do more research and further my knowledge into the prevalent theories and writings done around ARC archives. Moving into the Programming Coordinator position, I now have a broader view of TNG’s programming history. This includes seeing the galleries journey towards focusing on social practice and politically facing works.

This position was an excellent bridge into the working world. I feel lucky that I was able to find a position in the visual arts sector, when their are so few for recent graduates. Beyond an opportunity, for me work and life balance has been important. My life has changed since I was working and attending school. Seeing both Su, Ashley and the interns I worked with in this position continue their artistic practice and critical thinking was a relief. Being in this position showed me that I could have satisfying employment in the arts while also keeping my art practice active.

An indispensable part of this internship is that it helped me start working at a gallery I believe in. I have been surprised several times while talking to colleagues and past instructors who have said they see TNG as a good fit for my personality.

This internship assisted my hire into the new position because I already had shown my employers that I was self motivated. This skill was a learning curve, and I feel fortunate that I had an excellent support system to help me develop strategies to stay motivated. Another skill I use almost daily is confidence to reach out to people in my community for advice and knowledge, as it was necessary to hear bits of TNG history instead of learning it through the materials. This helped me immensely as a large role in my current position is reaching out to artists, writers and community members.

For more information about ARIIVA (A Really Interesting Internship in Visual Arts), visit our website. For more information about The New Gallery and their excellent programming and exhibitions, visit

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