2021 TAC Year in Review

Writing to you at the end of our second pandemic year, I want to express my admiration for Toronto's artists and arts organizations who have continued to survive and even thrive in the most trying of circumstances.

Writing to you at the end of our second pandemic year, I want to express my admiration for Toronto's artists and arts organizations who have continued to survive and even thrive in the most trying of circumstances. New ways of gathering, learning, presenting and viewing have emerged both in person and online, showing the resiliency of artists and the strength of art itself. Music shows on neighbourhood streets, theatre experiences by phone, virtual artist collaborations across provincial borders and local film festivals that can be accessed online at any time of the day, anywhere in the world, are just some examples of how Toronto’s artists are continuing to work and reach audiences. 
It is our enormous privilege at Toronto Arts Council to offer support to artists and arts organizations. We know that having the means to create is so incredibly important for those who are driven to do so. We also know the importance of art to the well-being of so many of us, and our city at large. 
Yes, we offer financial support - and we know how essential that is - but we also recognize the value of collaboration and communication - sharing ideas, listening and responding. In 2021, we worked hard to serve the needs of Toronto’s arts community, from first time applicants to established organizations. Below are a few highlights from the past year. 

In 2021:

▲ TAC grants staff managed over 67 days of virtual adjudication meetings, assessing 2388 applications with record requests of $45,466,627
▲ We helped fund an astounding amount of art: we recommended 921 grants to artists and organizations with a total value of $23,889,630.

▲ We welcomed new granting staff Strategic Programs Manager Liza Mattimore and Indigenous Arts Program Manager Catherine Tammaro, and developed a new position to enhance our outreach and access efforts, welcoming Timaj Garad as Outreach & Access Program Manager.

▲After 300 artists participated in extensive consultations, we launched two new programs to respond to barriers that Black arts communities face due to anti-Black racism: Black Arts Annual Operating and Black Arts Projects. Through these programs we disbursed an additional $849,991 to Black artists and Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-focussed arts organizations.

▲ To support Black artists interested in applying to our Black Arts Projects program, we partnered with Neighbourhood Arts Network to offer one-on-one guidance through the Black Arts Projects Mentorship program.

▲ Our Open Door program pivoted to respond to pandemic-specific needs with increased funding: we invested $1,212,500 in projects that have significant potential to create transformative change for the arts sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

▲ 2021 also solidified TAC´s place as a leader in equity in granting practices. Director of Granting Andrew Suri was consulted by funders across North America, including New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and SaskCulture in Regina, Saskatchewan.

▲ We published 10 Featured Stories to our website, highlighting the incredible work of TAC grant recipients, and the impact of the arts on the city and its residents.
▲ We funded 11 public art projects to take place during ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022 through Animating Toronto Streets, a partnership program with the City of Toronto. 

▲To ensure the safe opening of arts venues and our city, we joined the partnership to develop and support the Lights On Venue Re-Opening Guide; and voiced our support for the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s COVID Safe Pass proposal.
▲ Seeking ways to alleviate income precarity among artists, our Board created an Income Precarity Working Group which brought forward a number of recommendations and supported a first ever joint advocacy initiative with Conseil des Arts de Montréal, Winnipeg Arts Council, Calgary Arts Development and Edmonton Arts Council to advocate for a federal Basic Income Guarantee.

▲ Our grants staff offered numerous information and virtual drop-in sessions and offered one on one time to help prospective applicants and existing clients. 

▲Our affiliate Toronto Arts Foundation continued to connect communities, distribute awards, offer board engagement and professional development opportunities and more through its high-impact arts-centered initiatives. To learn more about the work of the Foundation, visit its website.

In 2021, we bid farewell to outstanding arts champions who served on our board. Board President Gaëtane Verna, who worked tirelessly on equity and advocacy, left her term at our June Annual General Meeting. We also said goodbye to Neera Chopra and Rob MacKinnon, while welcoming Devyani Saltzman and announcing Jason Ryle as Board President. We’re proud to be governed by artists and arts advocates, all of whom volunteer their time to ensure that our mission and values are at the forefront of TAC policies. 
As the year winds to a close in the midst of ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic, we look forward to what 2022 will bring. We are excited about the artistic energy, the ingenuity and resilience, the questioning, the evolution of new forms and new collaborations. Our motivation comes from the art that inspires us every day, created by brilliant individuals and hard working organizations. We are fuelled by knowing that art makes our city more liveable, more beautiful and more equitable. Through the presence of art in our society we see the value of TAC’s financial support. 

I’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Toronto’s artists, arts collectives and organizations who bring new creations and ideas into the world every day. I’d also like to give a special thanks to Toronto City Council and Economic Development & Culture who continue to affirm their support to grow Toronto’s cultural sector through its investment in Toronto Arts Council. 

Have a safe and joyful holiday season. See you in 2022!


Claire Hopkinson, M.S.M.,
Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation


About Toronto Arts Council
Toronto Arts Council (TAC) is the City of Toronto’s funding body for artists and arts organizations. Since 1974, TAC has played a major role in the city’s cultural industries by supporting a very broad range of artistic activity. From the emerging artist to the most established, from celebrated institutions to arts that challenge convention, TAC is typically the first funder to offer support. Today, TAC grants lead to exhibitions, performances, readings and workshops seen annually by over 5 million people. Through its ongoing funding of over $23 million annually, TAC cultivates a rich engagement between artists and audiences. It is proud to reflect Toronto’s vibrancy through the diversity of the artists, arts communities and audiences that it serves. Visit torontoartscouncil.org for more information.