$ 4 million New Funds to TAC: Immediate Impact on Toronto Neighbourhoods

In April 2013, four million dollars in new funding was approved for Toronto Arts Council grants, with an additional two million dollar increase anticipated for each of the next three years. With an approved strategy in place, TAC was well prepared for this funding increase. In the six months since the City budget announcement, TAC’s committees and juries have adjudicated almost 800 grant applications, with 300 more applications currently being evaluated, and two more grant deadlines remaining this year.

Noting the strong support for arts funding from City Council, Claire Hopkinson, Director and CEO of Toronto Arts Council, said “I encourage each artist, arts organization, board member and cultural worker to send a letter of thanks to their local Councillor for arts funding increases which are already having an impact on Toronto neighbourhoods”.

In December 2012 Toronto Arts Council’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its strategic vision and new funding priorities. Over $3.33 million has been allocated to date towards meeting goals in the following key areas:

GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY: $2 millionof new funding is being invested in existing grants programs with a priority on addressing funding inequities. An analysis of the operating grants portfolio revealed that approximately six million in new funding would be required to bring arts investment in TAC’s existing program portfolios (operating clients, project grant program, grants to individuals) to a consistent and meaningful level of investment for programming in all areas of Toronto. TAC is hoping to fully address these inequities by 2016. TAC’s grants budget is currently $14 million: the goal is to bring it up to $20 million by 2016.

Successful Outcomes:

  • 151 operating clients (72%) received increases that ranged from less than 1% to 230%. These increases are the first step towards addressing the funding inequities within the disciplines. The majority of operating clients that did not receive an increase are already funded at a higher percentage than average for their discipline.
  • The total number of project applications received increased by 20% over last year.
  • A music recording component has been added to the Music Creation program, resulting in an increase of 67% in new applications for this program.

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: $1.2 million of new funding is directed towards support for community-engaged art initiatives with a focus on youth arts, diverse communities and expanded audience access.

New initiatives to date:

  • A partnership with ArtReach Toronto which will invest in 30 youth-led projects, many in underserved neighbourhoods.
  • Enhanced funding to 28 organizations, across all disciplines, doing exceptional work in areas outside the downtown core, working with youth and/or diverse communities.
  • Investment in Neighbourhood Arts Network, which provides resources, networking and information to over 1,000 members across the City.
  • Investment in a community-engaged arts development collaborative, called Platform A which will offer mentorships and platforms to facilitate new connections between community engaged arts organizations working outside the downtown core and established arts organizations.
  • Micro-grants to artists working outside of the downtown core, also in partnership with Platform A.

INNOVATION AND PARTNERSHIPS: $800,000 new funding is directed to new and innovative funding programs and collaborations, many of which will be catalysts for increased investment from all levels of government and the private sector.

New initiatives to date:

  • A partnership with Business for the Arts’ program ArtsVest Toronto which triggered a $250,000 investment from Canadian Heritage. ArtsVest will deliver sponsorship workshops, training and $330,000 in matching grants to 77 arts organizations this year.
  • Investment in the pilot collaborative community-engaged arts development initiative, providing an innovative approach to organizational development and resource sharing.

INVESTMENT IN TAC STRENGTH AND CAPACITY: with $200,000 increased administrative resources, TAC is focused on becoming more accessible and responsive to artists all across the city.

New initiatives to date:

  • Added an Outreach and Evaluation officer to the TAC team to better understand and communicate the layers of values that artists devote to this city.
  • Started the process to move TAC’s grants system online (completion is estimated in 2015).
  • Analysed accessibility and effectiveness of TAC’s website, with a plan to upgrade to meet needs of the community
  • Moved to more cost-effective new offices, which also offer greater access to meeting rooms and local transportation.
  • Launched the TAC Art/Work Gallery on Richmond at Portland which offers, through an application process, affordable, high quality space to artists.

Toronto Arts Council continues to work with City Hall to encourage Councillors to maintain support for arts funding targets, which include $2 million increases to TAC Grants Program for each of the next three years.

What You Can Do:

TELL YOUR STORY – Describe how TAC funding is helping you or your organization to better realize your mission and make Toronto a more liveable city. Your City Councillors (in each ward you, your staff and your board members live) will want to hear about why the Toronto Arts Council is important to you, as they make their decisions for next year’s budget. City Budget deliberations for 2014 have already started, so there is no time like the present!