Susan Wright, Deputy Director, Toronto Arts Council

Councillors: Thank you for taking the time to hear from me, and from other committed Torontonians, today. You will note that many of the speakers here today have come to talk about the importance of the arts in their lives. Clearly a strong arts community is important to Torontonians all over the city.

My name is Susan Wright.  I am the Deputy Director of Toronto Arts Council which, as many of you know is the City’s primary arts granting organization.  Each year we adjudicate over 2000 applications and disburse $18 million in grants to over 1,000 arts organizations and individual artists.

I would like to begin by commending City Council for your support of the arts in Toronto.  We have come a very long way in the last four years and Council deserves credit for implementing a strong arts agenda.

2013 was a turning point.  After more than a decade of reports, funding comparisons with other cities, vibrant civic engagement from Toronto’s young artists and Council motions dating back to 2003, City Council committed to a plan for increased investment to be rolled out between 2013 and 2017.  The final $2 million for implementation of this plan is yet to be confirmed and we encourage you to include it in the 2018 budget.    

The initial results from increased funding were reported on by Nordicity at Economic Development Committee this past November.

The findings were extremely positive.  I will highlight just two:

There has been a significant increase in arts programming outside the downtown core.  In 2016, TAC grants supported over 500 performances, exhibitions and events throughout the inner suburbs.  People living here in Etobicoke now have many more opportunities to take part in and benefit from arts events than ever before.

The second finding is economic – since 2013 arts grants provided to Toronto’s most established organizations have increased by $6 million.  In that same period – those organizations have raised an additional $50 million in revenues from other sources.  Clearly, city funding is a major catalyst.

In terms of Toronto Arts Council, our grants program funding of $18 million is equivalent to just $6.48 per Torontonian – but through our competitive jury process it is achieving great impact:

New funding is allowing us to introduce programs that increase accessibility and inclusion for artists and audiences throughout the city.

In 2017 we were able to launch a Newcomer and Refugee Artists program – offering support and mentorship to exceptional artists arriving in Toronto from around the world.

In 2016, 73 grants to youth-led arts projects gave over 2,500 talented young people the chance to lead and participate in arts programming outside the downtown core.   

Many Councillors were able to join us at Arts in the Parks, launched in 2016 in partnership with Toronto PFR, with additional support from the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts.  Over two years Arts in the Parks has brought 593 arts performances, exhibitions, screenings and events to parks all over the city – to the great delight of almost 200,000 Torontonians.  You’ve just heard from Leah Houston about Maybelle’s terrific program in Broadacres Park.

Not surprisingly, Toronto’s artists and arts organizations have responded with energy & creativity to TAC’s new programs – ideas and applications for support have doubled over the last few years. 

What will Toronto gain by sustaining our commitment and investing a further $2 million in the arts in 2018?

We will gain the opportunity to have these funds matched by significant new federal and provincial arts funding
We will gain the benefits of innovation and inspiration that artists bring to Toronto

By supporting our creators, designers and artists – in short – supporting the knowledge economy, together we are firmly establishing Toronto as a centre for innovation.

Our artists and creative thinkers create their own jobs and opportunities for many others. 

We encourage you to meet City Council’s commitment and achieve $25 per capita arts funding, by including the final $2 million in the 2018 budget.

Thank you.