TAC Response and Announcements

TAC responses to support artists and arts organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and TAC COVID-19 bulletins

Four dancers hold each other among a black backdrop
Fall For Dance North 2019. Cody Berry, Northfoot Movement in festival commission. Photo by SVPhotography (2019)




During these unprecedented times, Toronto Arts Council will be sending regular bulletins to our mailing list about COVID-19 updates, the steps we’re taking to help the Toronto arts community, what you can do to help, and more.

▶ SIGN UP to receive regular COVID-19 bulletins from Toronto Arts Council.


With the outbreak of COVID-19, TAC is aware that grant recipient organizations may face extraordinary challenges.

For specific questions and to advise TAC of concerns, please contact your program manager
Project grant recipients may postpone, adjust or cancel projects affected by the COVID-19 outbreak without penalty from TAC.

Organizations receiving core funding will not be required to have replacement programming for events or activities that are delayed, changed or cancelled due to COVID-19.

Contact TAC: Please note that TAC staff will remain available to answer your questions and provide updated information throughout the outbreak. Please contact us any time.


Artists who have received a letter from the CRA regarding your CERB eligibility, please understand:

  1. These letters are NOT determinations of eligibility, or bills to be paid.  They are letting you know that CRA will require confirmation of eligibility. December 31 is NOT a deadline.
  2. At this time, CRA is NOT issuing penalties, or collection action.  If it turns out that you are not eligible for CERB you will be given time for repayment.  

If the problem is that you do not meet the $5,000 minimum income requirement:

  • If CRA is saying that arts grants do not qualify as income – that is INCORRECT.  While travel, education or research grants may not qualify, arts production grants do qualify.  ALL TAC individual grants therefore can qualify as income. CRA staff have been given the correct information.
  • Please refer to this guide for additional information
  • Also note:  income earned in 2019 OR in the 12 months prior to applying for CERB counts.  If you applied in April 2020, that means income earned between April 2019 and March 2020 can be used to qualify if that is preferable to 2019 income.

TAC will continue to post any updates to TAC’s Covid-19 web pages as we receive it.


Toronto Arts Council has been advised by CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) that funds issued under this program do not constitute earned income but are considered a “windfall”.  For this reason TAC will not be issuing a T4A to you for this support.  There is no requirement to include this funding in your 2020 income tax return.  
Please note that for the same reason, funds issued under the Covid-19 Response Fund cannot be considered income for the purposes of eligibility for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) program.  Please also note that this ruling applies only to the COVID-19 Response fund.  
Individual artists who have received grants from TAC in 2020 for artistic creation or production will be issued T4As as usual.  These grants are considered earned income and may contribute to eligibility for CRB.


January 5, 2022: January 5, 2022 Update
Government of Ontario announces new time-limited measures; Federal government and Provincial government supports

August 12, 2021: A Call to Action for Safe Re-Opening
Toronto Arts Council advocates for a SAFE return of audiences to concerts, theatre, galleries, and events

▶ July 16, 2021: July 16, 2021 Update
Provincial Covid-19 Reopening Guidelines; Surveys; Covid-19 Funding; Upcoming TAC grant & Foundation award deadlines; TAC Artists' Grants and Canada Recovery Benefit

▶ June 30, 2021: June 30, 2021 Update
Provincial Covid-19 Reopening Guidelines; Covid-19 Funding; Upcoming TAC grant & Foundation award deadlines; TAC Artists' Grants and Canada Recovery Benefit

▶ June 4, 2021: June 4, 2021 Update

Making Sure the Arts Count; Provincial COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines; COVID-19 Funding; Upcoming TAC Grant Deadlines; TAC Individual Artist Grant and CRB

▶ May 14, 2021: May 14, 2021 Update
COVID-19 Lockdown / Stay-at-Home Order Remains on Place until June 2; COVID-19 Funding; Community Consultations; TAC Arts Grants and Canada Recovery Benefit; Upcoming TAC grant deadlines.

April 9, 2021: April 9, 2021 Update
COVID-19 Lockdown and Stay-At-Home Order...Again!; Canadian Live Music Association, Orchestras Canada and TAPA joint appeal to provincial government; TAC Arts Grants and Canada Recovery Benefit; COVID-19 Funding

▶ March 12, 2021: March 12 2021 Update
New Funding Opportunities; Webinars and Townhalls; Reopening Preparedness

▶ February 26, 2021:    February 26 Update
Reoopening Preparedness; Continuing Closures; Emergency Funding Reminders

▶ February 12, 2021: February 12 Update
CERB Eligibility, Gross vs Net Income; Healthy Communities Initiative; Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program; Ontario Small Business Support Grant; Ontario's New Skills Development Fund.

January 22, 2021: January 22 Update
CRA Acknowledges Arts Grants count as Income; Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB); Ontario Small Business Support Grant; COVID-19 Impact on the Arts

December 18, 2020: The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending all orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) until January 20, 2021. This extension will support the safe delivery of health care and other critical services until COVID-19 vaccines are approved and widely available. Click here for News Release

November 27, 2020: November 27 Update
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS); Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS); ShowLoveTO Partner Activation Grant Program;  The Reconnect Festival and Event Program; The Resilient Communities Fund; ArtworxTO​; Online Events

▶ November 13, 2020: November 13 Update
Toronto enters phase Red on November 14; #Lights-On Venue Reopening Guide Launches; Arts & Cultural Events in Public Spaces

October 16, 2020: October 16 Update
Performing arts events once again shuttered under strengthened COVID-19 regulations; CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit)  replacements; Mayor Tory to host Summit on the Future of the Hotels, Entertainment and Hospitality Sectors on Monday, October 19, and more. 

September 29, 2020: Digital Update: YouTube VIDEO | FULL TRANSCRIPT
On September 29, Claire Hopkinson (TAC Director & CEO) and Pat Tobin (Director Arts & Culture Services) were joined by TAPA and Toronto Public Health to provide updates about ShowLoveTO, ArtsworxTO, LightsOn, venue safety, regulations and protocols.

September 21, 2020: September 21 Update
Toronto Arts Council teams up with City of Toronto for Digital Update on Tuesday, Sept 29, at 2 pm; #iMissLiveTheatreTO campaign; Performing Arts events in licensed facilities are EXEMPT from new COVID-19 regulations, and more. 

August 21, 2020: August 21 Update
CERB benefits have been extended; Ontario Trillium Foundation's Resilient Communities Fund; Ontario Arts Council's Arts Response Initiative; Town Hall with the Minister of Canadian Heritage; Surveys, data, and more. 

July 31, 2020: July 31 Update
Stage 3 reopening guidelines: important links; increasing support for the Black arts community; preliminary results from Arts & Culture Public Space Survey, and more.

July 23, 2020: Digital Update on Stage 3 reopening guidelines: YouTube VIDEO | FULL TRANSCRIPT
On July 23, 2020, Sally Han (Manager, Cultural Partnerships), Claire Hopkinson (Director and CEO, Toronto Arts Council), and David Absalom (Toronto Public Health), presented a Digital Update to discuss the impact of Stage 3 on Toronto arts organizations. 

July 16, 2020: July 16 Update
TAC is teaming up once again with EDC and Toronto Public Health to present a Digital Update on July 23; Stage 3 Reopening information for concerts, artistic events, theatrical productions, performances, and movie theatres; Phase 2 of Emergency Support Fund for Culture, Heritage and Sport Organizations announced, and more.   

June 26, 2020: June 26 Update
Recording and diagram about public health requirements for reopening; Community Arts Canopy Town Hall; Toronto Foundation COVID research report; Canada Day in Toronto, and more. 

June 24, 2020: Toronto Public Health with EDC, TAPA and TAC Digital Update: YouTube VIDEO, FULL TRANSCRIPT
On June 24, Pat Tobin (Director Arts and Culture Services), Claire Hopkinson (Director and CEO, Toronto Arts Council), Kevin Ormsby & Jacoba Knappen (TAPA), David Absalom (Toronto Public Health) and Chris Gibbs (Ryerson University) held a conversation to update Toronto arts organizations on regulations and requirements for live programming options and venue operations during the pandemic period.

June 17, 2020: June 17 Update
Upcoming webinar to provide arts community with updates from Toronto Public Health to address live programming options and venue operations; Arts in the Parks releases pubilc opinion survey; information on Artsdata.ca, and more. 

▶ May 29, 2020: May 29 Update
City Council approves property tax program for Toronto live music venues; City program to support festivals affected by COVID-19; the Government of Canada has launched the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, and more. 

May 14, 2020: City of Toronto Arts and Culture Services and Toronto Arts Council Digital Update:  FULL TRANSCRIPT | YouTube VIDEO
On May 14, 2020, Toronto Arts Council along with our partners at the City of Toronto's Arts and Culture Services, held a conversation with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Julie Dabrusin (Toronto-Danforth), Toronto Budget Chief Gary Crawford, Director Arts and Culture Services, City of Toronto Pat Tobin and Director and CEO, Toronto Arts Council Claire Hopkinson to update Toronto arts organizations on issues relating to arts and culture in the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 13, 2020: May 13 Update
The City of Toronto has launched ShopHERE to help Toronto businesses and artists build and promote their very own Shopify online stores in a matter of days, and Property Tax Relief on the way for Toronto music venues

May 12, 2020: TOArtist COVID-19 Fund Closes (Press Release)
Toronto Arts Foundation continues to respond to artist and public need

May 8, 2020: May 8 Update
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) update, the federal government breaks down how the $500 Million Emergency Support Fund For Cultural, Heritage And Sport Organizations will be allocated; the City of Toronto announces the creation of the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild​ (TORR); new COVID-19 related Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation research projects.

April 30, 2020: April 30 Update
Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program; Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has opened the application portal for a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers; Neighbourhood Arts Network is offering a Mentor in Residence program for artists, and more. 

▶ April 23, 2020: April 23 Update
The Canada Council for the Arts and CBC/Radio-Canada have launched Digital Originals to help artists, arts groups and organizations share their work online; Canada Emergency Community Support Fund, and more.

▶ April 17, 2020: April 17 Update
$500 million fund to the Department of Canadian Heritage, and City of Toronto COVID-19 response updates

April 16, 2020: April 16 Update
More Artists will now qualify for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB); about the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA); thank you to the donors of the TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund

▶ April 13, 2020: First Recipients of TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund Receive Support (Press Release)
Every donation received is having a big impact on the lives of artists

April 9, 2020: April 9 Update
Toronto Arts Council will accelerate grant payments to annual and mult-year funding recipients; artist applications to TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund are now suspended; Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy calculator and more

April 7, 2020: City of Toronto Arts and Culture Services and Toronto Arts Council Live Zoom Webinar: FULL TRANSCRIPT | YouTube VIDEO
On April 7, 2020, Pat Tobin (Director Arts and Culture Services, City of Toronto) and Claire Hopkinson (Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Council) hosted a live webinar via Zoom for Toronto arts organizations. The intent of the session was to update arts organizations on issues relating to arts and culture in the COVID-19 pandemic.

▶ April 6, 2020: April 6 Update
City of Toronto Arts and Culture Services and Toronto Arts Council to host a Live Zoom Webinar for arts organizations on April 7, 2020; a letter to Federal Ministers, and more. 

April 2, 2020: Toronto Arts Letter to Federal Ministers
A letter to thank Federal Ministers for the the federal government's important and timely actions for COVID-19 relief, and to propose additional solutions for urgent concerns not yet addressed

▶ April 1, 2020: Launch of Fund Inspires Unprecedented Demand (Press Release)
Additional donations sought to direct to artists in need 

April 1, 2020: April 1 Update
City cancels public events until June 30, 75% Wage Subsidy update; Free Strategic Support for Arts Organizations; Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB); and unprecedented demand for the TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund. 

March 27, 2020: March 27 Update
The federal government today announced its commitment to provide small businesses with a 75 per cent (increased from the previously announced 10%) wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Not-for-profit organizations will be eligible for this wage subsidy

March 26, 2020: March 26 Update
On March 25 the federal government clarified its emergency response plan: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) application portal will open early April. Wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals will be eligible for a $2,000 monthly benefit

▶ March 26, 2020: Helping Toronto's Artists Survive COVID -19 (Press Release)
Toronto Arts Foundation, in partnership with Toronto Arts Council, has launched an emergency support program that will help Toronto artists who have lost performance income as a result of COVID-19

▶ March 20, 2020: March 20 Update 
Netflix Media has allocated $100 million for Emergency Support for Workers in the Creative Community - this, and other recently announced emergency funding initiatives to date. 

▶ March 18, 2020: March 18 Update
The federal government has announced an $82 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Plan including provisions for support to workers and businesses. Artists and arts workers may be eligible for the Emergency Support Benefit

▶ March 16, 2020: March 16 Update 
Note that the March 16 recommendation is now a directive from the province; effective March 17 all theatres, bars, restaurants, night clubs and cinemas must be closed until at least March 31

▶ March 13, 2020: March 13 Update 
Toronto Arts Council urges producers postponing or cancelling events of more than 250 people to track impact

▶ March 12, 2020: COVID-19 Statement for the Arts Community 
Important information for Toronto Arts Council grant recipients


Emergency Grants Funding and Donations

  • No penalty exacted on grant recipients who are unable to present their projects or events as a result of COVID-19
  • Accelerated payment to annual and multi-year grant recipients
  • Launched and implemented TOArtist COVID-19 Response Fund; 982 artists received funding totaling $836,347.  Toronto Arts Foundation contributed $587,000 from private sector towards fund
  • Hal Jackman Foundation - $1 million donation facilitated by Toronto Arts Foundation which in turn made donations to 80 arts charities drawn primarily from TAC funded operating organizations
  • Planning underway for additional supports to address gaps in overall funding responses to COVID-19

Equity and Inclusion: Confronting Anti-Black Racism

There is strong support for increased emphasis on equity and inclusion in the arts in Toronto at this time.  New TAC granting strategies in response to COVID-19 will focus on Black and Indigenous artists and organizations. Toronto Arts Council is consulting with Toronto's Black arts community and will be announcing plans during the summer of 2020.  See TAC's Black LIves Matter statements here.

Arts and Event Programming

Transition to online and virtual programming for the following TAC and TAF initiatives

  • Grant writing workshops
  • Grants information sessions
  • Leaders Lab Alumni sessions
  • Creative Champions professional development for arts Board members
  • Neighbourhood Arts Network mentorship series for community engaged artists and newcomer artists
  • Newcomer Day programming
  • Arts in the Parks transition to digital events programming
  • Mayor’s Arts Lunch and Mayor’s Evening for the Arts


TAC has hosted information webinars for Toronto’s arts sector, in partnership with the City of Toronto and Canadian Heritage, each attended by 400+ people.

TAC has created a COVID-19 web portal with web pages devoted to communicating timely and accurate information:

TAC Announcements

  • Public Health resources
  • Public Funders and agencies resources
  • Data Tracking Tools
  • Emergency Funding Support, and
  • Digital Art Activations


Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation continue to work on advocacy initiatives with stakeholders and colleagues:

  • Cultural Roundtable for the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Support and Recovery
  • TAC and TAF Advocacy Network
  • IRAFF (Intergovernmental Roundtable of Arts Funders and Foundations)
  • TAPA Advocacy Committee
  • Municipal Arts Councils from major cities across the country


Toronto Arts Council and Foundation are working with partners on research projects to bring essential support to arts organizations managing through COVID:

  • #lights-on – a Ryerson University led project that brings together key stakeholders to make sense of the current crisis, synthesize and analyse data and impact studies, develop and communicate strategies for support of the sector as it begins to envision the future.
  • Cue to Cue also led by Ryerson will draft Guidelines for Occupational and Public Health Standards in performance venues during COVID recovery.
  • Beyond the Toolkit:  Neighbourhood Arts Network will partner with UofT and other organizations to catalyze conversations about pedagogy among community-engaged practitioners and the potential role of CE practitioners in the aftermath of COVID-19

Artists’ activations – Instagram account

Toronto Arts Foundation Instagram/Facebook/Website campaign to promote the digital activity of artists