Artists In The Library

Toronto Arts Council’s Artists in the Library program provides funding to arts organizations, collectives and professional artists to create new work, deliver public programming and present collaborative projects in selected Toronto library spaces.

A woman stands with her ear to a speaker at a Toronto library.
Christopher Willes presents Quiet Concerts Performance by Jason Doell and Xuan Ye. Photo by Claire Harvie (2017)

Application deadline: September 16, 2019 for residencies taking place in 2020.

 For questions about this program, contact Erika Hennebury, Strategic Programs Manager


This initiative was created in 2014, as a partnership between Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Public Library. Artists in the Library is an artist residency program intended to create new collaborative opportunities for Toronto artists and increase arts access in underserved communities by animating libraries in Etobicoke, York, North York and Scarborough. The Artists in the Library program provides funding to professional artists, arts organizations and collectives working in any artistic discipline to undertake community-engaged artist residencies in selected branches of the Toronto Public Library. Resident artists will deliver free public a rts programming, such as performance creation programs, community-engaged arts programs, visual and media arts installations and exhibitions, workshops, artist-talks, open studio sessions, arts education programs, mentorship opportunities, performances and other public arts activities. Funding for this program is provided by the City of Toronto.


Artists in the Library is one of TAC’s Strategic Programs, created to respond to specific needs across the City. The objectives of these programs are to encourage collaboration between artists and institutions, provide access to space for arts programming, offer opportunities for arts activities, and to provide leadership opportunities for arts workers. These new programs are a result of key partnerships that allow TAC to leverage arts funding with matching funds or in-kind resources. TAC’s partnership programs create new opportunities for artists and audiences at the local level, enhance assets that are already available within the community, and build on Toronto’s vibrant arts ecology.

Participating library branches for the 2019 grant deadline include: Albion Branch, Cedarbrae Branch, Downsview Branch, Fairview Branch, Malvern Branch, Maria A. Shchuka Branch, Mimico Centennial Branch, Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre, Richview Branch, Scarborough Civic Centre Branch and York Woods (York Gate Mall). Full branch descriptions can be found at the end of the Program Guidelines (Appendix A). 


Applicants must be professional artists or professional not-for -profit arts organizations or collectives. Experience working with communities or children and youth is an asset. A professional artist is someone who has developed their skills through training and/or practice; is recognized as such by artists working in the same artistic tradition; actively practices his or her art; seeks payment for her/his work; and has a history of public presentation. You may not apply as an individual and be part of an organization or collective applying in the same competition. TAC has two distinct funding envelopes: 1) Arts Discipline funding (e.g. discipline-specific project grants and operating grants) and 2) Strategic funding (e.g. Artists in the Library, Animating Historic Sites, Open Door,etc.). Applicants are eligible to receive only one grant from each funding envelope per calendar year. The Artists in the Library program falls within the Strategic Funding envelope. Any other Strategic Program grants must be complete with a final report filed and approved to meet eligibility criteria. (*Please note: individuals that receive a grant in each envelope may still be eligible to be a mentor for the Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship program and /or participate in the TAC Leaders’ Lab program. Please check with the program manager for eligibility)

Eligibility criteria specific to Individuals:

If the applicant is an individual artist, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  • Individuals must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents or have an application pending for Permanent Resident Status or be a Protected Person (approved refugee claimant). If requested, you must be able to provide documentation to verify this.
  • Individuals must have been a resident of the City of Toronto for at least one year prior to the deadline, and live and work in Toronto for at least 8 months a year. A post office box address cannot be used to meet the residency requirement.
  • Undergraduate students are not eligible to apply to this program.
  • TAC recognizes that due to systemic barriers within the broader arts community (e.g. limited mainstream presentation opportunities for artists from equity-seeking communities) that some flexibility may be required in interpreting eligibility criteria to take into account equivalent professional experience and contexts. Potential applicants from equity-seeking communities are encouraged to discuss their eligibility with the program manager in advance of submitting an application.

Eligibility criteria specific to Organizations and Collectives:

If the applicant is an organization or a collective, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  • Organizations and collectives must be incorporated non-profit arts organizations or unincorporated arts collectives which operate on a non-profit basis. A collective is defined as two or more artists working together under a group name, either on a single project (ad hoc) or on an ongoing basis. For collectives of two artists, both must be City of Toronto residents. For collectives of more than two artists, the majority of members must be City of Toronto residents.
  • Organizations and collectives must be located in the City of Toronto. A post office box address cannot be used to meet this requirement.
  • Collectives must be prepared to submit bank account information (in the name of the collective as listed in the application) if the application is successful


The grant amount is $20,000. It includes artist fees for both offsite preparation time and onsite program delivery time, travel expenses, all materials, and any other project expenses incurred by the applicant.

**Projects involving Deaf artists and artists with disabilities may apply for an additional TAC grant by completing the Accessibility Expenses section of the application and including the requisite information in their budget. A TAC Accessibility grant will provide up to a maximum of $5,000 towards accessibility costs for artists incurred during the project. Accessibility costs include but are not limited to: ASL interpretation, audio description, closed captioning, communications assistants, and attendant care.


Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability and need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from Application Support Service Providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant in each calendar year. Please contact your Grant Program Manager at least six weeks before the grant program deadline to determine eligibility, request application support funding, and to review the process for payment to be made to your Service Provider. Requests for application support require approval from the Grant Program Manager. For additional information please visit the Application Accessibility Support page.


Projects must take place in 2020. Most residencies will take place between September and December 2020 and may span either 3 or 4 months in duration, depending on the project and the branch. Alternate residency scheduling may be possible, but will be subject to negotiation with the library branch and must occur within 2020. Residencies should be comprised of approximately 225 hours (based on a solo artist residency) of onsite public programming in total, depending on the programming activity and the number of artists involved. Programming schedules are developed by artists/organizations/collectives in conjunction with TPL branch staff (branch list and contact information included in Appendix A). Timing, space, scheduling, and availability may be limited, depending on the branch. Public programming activities must take place at the branch. Offsite public activities will not be eligible. Programming activities can take place in programming rooms, open spaces (i.e.: the stacks) or any space within the branch, subject to negotiation with TPL staff.

For example, (based on a solo artist residency of approximately 225 hours):

  • 3-month residency = 74 hours/month of public programming onsite at the library
  • 4-month residency = 56 hours/month of public programming onsite at the library

*Please note: onsite public programming hours may include creation, rehearsal, performance, exhibition, workshop, open studio, public consultation, community-engaged practice, artist talks, readings, etc.


New applicants to the program are encouraged to speak with the Program Manager prior to submitting an application. Please contact the Program Manager at least two weeks in advance of the deadline. All applicants must visit their proposed Toronto Public Library branch and discuss the proposed programming with the branch TPL liaison before submitting an application (see grant guidelines, attached appendix for contact information). Please contact the TPL branch liaison at least two weeks in advance of the deadline.

Toronto Arts Council will host a series of Artists in the Library information sessions and grant writing workshops in advance of the deadline (see above for schedule and RSVP instructions).

Please read the full grant guidelines and application, then contact the Program Manager with any questions.

Erika Hennebury, Strategic Programs Manager
416-392-6802 x219

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