Deputation - Celia Smith, CEO, Luminato, TAC Board member

Deputation before City Budget Committee, January 25, 2021

Mayor Tory, Budget Chief Crawford, and City Councillors:

My name is Celia Smith and I am on the Board of TAC as well as CEO of Luminato.

First, let me reiterate Claire’s thanks – Toronto’s arts community desperately needs the sustained support of City Council and of all our funders and we so appreciate your leadership in this.

With my time I want to speak to two things:

First of all – how proud I am to be on the Board of TAC – an organization which has acted quickly and effectively throughout the emergency of the past year:

Not only did TAC conceive and implement the COVID-19 Response Fund with lightning speed and efficiency, we also:

  • accelerated grant payments to help arts organizations avert crisis and avoid permanent closure
  • advocated for Toronto’s artists with the federal government – helping to ensure vital emergency funding was in place and that artists were eligible to receive it
  • hosted numerous grant writing workshops over Zoom and Instagram, continuing to reach out to people and organizations who were new to us
  • maintained our focus on equity including a deepened commitment to serving all BIPOC artists and particularly the Black arts community
  • assessed 3626 applications over the course of the year, going on to recommend the largest number of grants in our history

all of this done while ensuring public accountability and benefit for dollars spent

And now, I want to look to the future.

Artists – key to bringing life back to Toronto

And, TAC will continue to offer support:

  • Creating a one-time recovery grants program which will provide additional support for COVID costs to arts organizations reopening in the coming months
  • Working with City staff to support artists creating work for outdoor venues for the first time
  • Partnering with the City on ArtworxTO – the Year of Public Art
  • Ensuring an enhanced focus on equity among all TAC’s operating clients by increasing Equity implementation requirements
  • Rolling out a new TAC Black / African-diasporic arts grant program of at least $500,000 annually within the next few months 

And, speaking as a leading arts presenter in the community, Luminato, and our fellow arts organizations are committed to:

  • Bring Toronto back to life quickly and safely
  • Encouraging our residents to explore the year of public art offerings throughout our city
  • Enticing renewed confidence and inviting tourists back as soon as it is safe
  • The Mayor has characterized a vibrant arts sector as a ‘jobs magnet’ – watch for this to once again become a reality as people flock back to the city for inspiration and entertainment

You can count on all of us in the arts sector - artists, arts organizations, leaders - to help build the social confidence that we will all need as a community, to get through these times and to recover and flourish in the future. To help us get out of our houses (safely), get back into the streets and back to contributing to our communities. To work with a wide cross section of the city - across the arts community, small business, the main streets, education, community organizations - to bring us back to life. I have had several opportunities to speak publicly about this in the past several months, and I speak about a big bright light coming up from the Toronto region, illuminating our lives and helping us through this darkness. But also, that everyone can see this big bright light, around the world - they can even see it from the space station - and they say, What the heck is going on in Toronto? Where do those people get their energy from? Where do they find their moxie, their strength, their energy to face these challenges that are facing all of us around the world - and get on with dealing with them? I think the answer lies within our magnificent arts community, so I thank you for your continued support and championship of our artists and community. Many thanks.