Light the SPARK: Emerging Artists Exhibit

The Light the SPARK: Emerging Artists Exhibit” program returns for 2024 and will be exhibited at the YMCA Balsillie Family Branch, Peterborough.
Click here to visit the exhibit web page and learn about this year’s emerging artists. Plan to visit the exhibit on display April 1 to 30th.

Applications are now closed. Thank you to all who applied.

SPARK is pleased to welcome applications for the program specifically designed for first-time photography exhibitors.

Have you been thinking about exhibiting your work (beyond those social posts) but don’t know where to start?

Is creating your own photography exhibit something you really want to try but it seems too intimidating, too complicated and too expensive?

Through our innovative Light the SPARK program, we will help you learn the basics of how to create a photography exhibit from a concept to finished work hanging on the wall, all under the guidance of experienced professionals. Work with exhibiting, printing and photography professionals, and with fellow-first exhibitors to mount a group exhibit for the 2024 SPARK Photo Festival. The exhibit will be on view from April 1 to 30 in Peterborough.

We provide workshops, guidance, marketing support and a venue, and our sponsors provide all of the funding for workshops, printing and framing. There’s no cost to participate. All you have to bring is your creativity, images and your enthusiasm.

There is a limit of 6 participants for this program.

The 2023 pilot program was a great success! Six photographers launched their first-ever exhibits to great audience appreciation. Visit the 2023 Light the SPARK Exhibit page to read about the photographers and their photography.


2023 Light the SPARK Emerging Artists; L to R: Elayne Linn, Keith Manser, Lezley Woodhams, Jonathon McKinney, Shirlanne Pawley-Boyd, Sioux Dickson

Program and Application Details:

The purpose of this group exhibit is to encourage, educate and guide new artists to exhibit photographic images in a welcoming public forum. Ultimately, the Festival hopes this guided introduction will inspire photographers to explore their work in a new way with an eye to public exhibition, become confident in the logistics of mounting an exhibit and to continue to show their work in future years of the SPARK Photo Festival and beyond!
The Emerging Artists Exhibit (EAE for short) program requires potential participants to complete an online application and submit sample photos to be considered for the program. The SPARK Program Committee will evaluate all applicants and determine who will be eligible to enter the program.
The SPARK EAE Program Committee will lead the program and work with the artists both as a group and on a one-on-one basis to successfully launch the exhibit to be mounted for the month of April 2024.

Participants are required to attend 2 in-person workshops in Peterborough:
Saturday, January 20, 8:30 am to 12:00 pm: First-time Exhibitors Workshop at Activity Haven (this will be open to the public as well)
February (Date and time to be confirmed): Emerging Artists Exhibit Program Workshop (exclusively for selected participants)

Participants will work with the SPARK Committee to produce print images for a group exhibit to be shown at a selected Peterborough venue for the month of April 2024.
All costs for the workshops and image production, printing and framing (or other media) will be covered by SPARK. There is no cost to participants.
Participants must supply their own photographic equipment and images. Guidance will be provided on image selection, however the program does not include photography instruction. Because the exhibit will be mounted at a family-friendly public venue, images must be suitable for all audiences of all ages. SPARK has the right to curate and approve all content permitted to be exhibited.
There will be a maximum of 6 participants selected for 2024. 

The program is open to individuals from the Festival’s designated region of the County and City of Peterborough, Northumberland County and City of Kawartha Lakes, Alderville, Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations. 

Residents of the region and students enrolled in schools (elementary, secondary and post-secondary) within the region are eligible. Participants must be in the region for workshops (January 20 and February date TBA), installation March 30/31 (TBC) and exhibit removal April 30/May 1 (TBC).

Participants of any skill level are welcome to apply;  however, you must be a first-time exhibitor. That means you have never before exhibited photographic art publicly, with the exception of digital forums (e.g. social media) and/or within an elementary or secondary school program. Participants of past SPARK Open Call Exhibits (groups or individual) are not eligible.

Previous applicants who were not selected in 2023 are eligible to apply again.

Applicants and selected participants for this program are eligible to enter the 2024 SPARK Photo Festival Juried Exhibit.

Participants must be 13 years of age or older as of January 15, 2024.

SPARK Photo Festival is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in this and all festival programming.

Application Process:
1. Complete the online Application Form here: [applications now closed].

2. Submit 3 images, electronically, as examples of your work.

  • Choose images that best represent your style that would be suitable for a group exhibit for all audiences. These do not have to be your final images should you be selected as a participant; we just want samples at this point.
  • Name your image files with your full name and the image number and title (as outlined on Application Form). I.e.: FirstNameLastName_Image1Title
  • Submit through this Dropbox Link (<click there) and follow the prompts or through another cloud file sharing to  (do not send as email attachments).

Once your Application Form and 3 images are received, you will receive an email confirmation from SPARK within 48 hours.

Successful participants will be notified by email on January 15, 2023 and you will need to confirm by January 17, 2024.

Still have questions? Email Jennifer MacKenzie, Festival Director and we’ll help you out!

The Fine Print:

Participant photographers retain all copyright of images. Images submitted to SPARK for promotional purposes may be used in digital and print promotions for the Emerging Artists Exhibit and the Festival with no financial compensation. Any promotional use after the Festival will only be done so with additional permission.

After the Festival concludes on April 30 EAE participants will be responsible for picking up their images and they are theirs to keep.

The key phrase for the Application Form is: Light the SPARK24