The AGO membership for art newbies // City Brief

AGO Next
Our city life correspondent on why the AGO Next membership is a good fit for young professionals

By Breann Kirincich

On Thursday November 27th, 2014


In my daydreams, I’m a patron of the arts. I go to every gallery opening, wear copious amounts of fur and say things like, “That Matisse is so schadenfreudeian.” 

In reality, my life is more “Nextflix on the couch” than “gallery chic.” Last month, however, a friend asked me to be her plus-one at an AGO Next event at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Finally, a chance to exercise my inner art critic.

Launched in 2010, AGO Next is a membership program that holds ten events a year — all targeted at young professionals. “My favourite aspect of being a member of AGO Next is the social and educational benefits the program provides,” says Sarah Massie, an AGO Next committee member. “I love having a date set in my calendar where you get to see a group of friends in one place with mutual interests, while gaining deeper knowledge about the various exhibitions.” 

Past events have allowed members to enjoy exclusive access to a main gallery, learn how to create their own art or even take field trip to other local venues. 

For my first event, I went to an After Hours session focused on Canadian artist Alex Colville who died last year. The evening began at 6pm with cocktails, canapés and chitchat about the gallery with fellow attendees — just like in my aspirational daydreams.  Next, we heard a lecture about Colville’s work and legacy from Andrew Hunter, a curator at the AGO, and Simone Jones, a multidisciplinary artist. The talk was both engaging and accessible to art newbies like me. They showed us, for instance, how Colville has influenced present-day media by comparing his work to the Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom, an Alice Munro book cover and stills from The Shining. 

After the talk, we took a private tour of the exhibit while the gallery was closed to the public. The emptiness of the gallery made the entire experience more serene and calm. (Think Night at the Museum — without the insanity.) 

A yearly membership for AGO Next runs for $600 and includes entrance to the ten yearly events, plus unlimited access to the AGO and most special exhibitions. Hot tip: if you register for AGO Next between December 1 and December 19, you’ll get an extra month free. If you have the disposable cash, another $400 a year lets you bring a friend, date or client you really want to impress with your sparkly new culture cred. Now, back to daydreaming. 

Breann Kirincich is the vice president of legal & compliance at BlackRock who maintains an active blog on the side. She enjoys cereal, Pinot Grigio and making dated SNL references, in that order.