In 1971 Shoestring founders Dorothy Boerma, Lorna Cutting, Ann Newdigate Mills, Jo Shepherd and Betty Warnock "to come to terms with the lack of local exhibition space, the lack of communication with their fellow artists and the public and the lack of sales opportunity" rented two rooms above the Sally Shop on Second Avenue in Saskatoon and started their own gallery. It was operated as a cooperative, with all decisions being made by the group itself. Incorporated as a non-profit society in 1973, the gallery subsisted on grants from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Canada Council, Department of Culture and Youth, Saskatchewan Sport Trust, etc. as well as membership dues and commissions on artists' sales. It is interesting to note that the gallery did not hire any staff until 1978. By 1981 there were a number of successful commercial galleries in Saskatoon. This led to the original mandate losing its validity and perpetual financial problems. In 1982 the Canada Council provided ongoing financial support for the gallery to be operated as "an alternative artist-run centre". To better reflect this new direction, the name was changed to A.K.A. Gallery.