Equity Priority Groups

TAC acknowledges that there are a number of historically disadvantaged groups that confront barriers to full participation in Canadian society and the national arts sector. However, in order to address the most underserved communities and largest service gaps, the Council has identified specific equity-seeking groups that have experienced especially restricted access to funding, creation, production, and dissemination opportunities within the Canadian arts ecology. These communities have been designated as equity priority groups and specific equity measures have been adopted to ensure their full inclusion in TAC’s funding programs and operations.

In naming its equity priority groups, TAC acknowledges that these communities are by no means mutually exclusive. Individuals may self-identify as belonging to more than one equity-seeking group. TAC also understands that the intersectional nature of social identities such as race, class and gender may result in individuals experiencing multiple, interconnected layers of oppression related to both visible (e.g. colour, physical disability, etc.) and invisible (e.g. sexuality, mental illness, etc.) difference. Individual members of equity-seeking groups may therefore experience varying degrees of disadvantage, discrimination, power or privilege, and may require different considerations or accommodations for equity to be achieved.

It should be noted that TAC strives to be responsive to the changing population of Toronto and to the shifting needs of equity-seeking communities that face barriers or other forms of discrimination and disadvantage. As such, the Council will annually track its funding to various demographics and may, from time to time, add or change its roster of designated equity priority groups in order to address identified funding gaps and ensure that its programs remain relevant and receptive to Toronto’s evolving arts sector.[1]

TAC’s current Equity Priority Groups are listed below in no particular order:


Black refers to people of African descent across the diaspora including but not limited to African Canadian, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, East African, West African, Southern and Central African, Afro-Arab, Afro-Indigenous, etc.

Persons of Colour

TAC’s definition of persons of colour includes individuals of African, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and mixed racial descent[2] and corresponds with the Government of Canada's "visible minority" designation (e.g. persons other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.).

Note that TAC acknowledges that Persons of Colour is an umbrella term for a diverse spectrum of racialized peoples who have experienced vastly different historical disadvantages and barriers to participation in Canadian society and the arts sector, and recognizes its use as a term to build understanding and solidarity between people.

Deaf Persons, Persons with Disabilities and Persons Living with Mental Illness

Deaf persons include individuals who are culturally-Deaf, deaf, or have hearing loss, as well as those who identify as hard-of-hearing, oral-deaf, deaf-blind or late-deafened. Persons with disabilities and persons living with mental illness include individuals with physical, psychosocial or learning disabilities that may be long-term, temporary or fluctuating and may or may not be apparent.[3]


Indigenous refers to Canadian Aboriginal people who self-define as First Nations (Status or Non-status), M├ętis or Inuit. TAC also acknowledges Indigenous people from all other regions of the world. Indigenous people are those who have a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies and consider themselves distinct from the dominant societies in which they live. 


2SLGBTQIAP refers to individuals who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual or two-spirited.

In addition to its strategic focus on these equity priority groups, TAC has implemented various targeted programs and partnerships to increase access and participation by:

  • artists working outside the downtown core
  • newcomer and refugee artists, and
  • young and emerging artists. 

Note that individuals who experience socio-economic disadvantage have not been identified as a distinct “equity priority group” as TAC does not collect information on its applicants’ personal income, expense levels or socio-economic status. However, TAC recognizes that poverty and class discrimination pose significant challenges to participation in the arts community and to individuals accessing TAC grants. TAC, therefore, endeavors to address socio-economic barriers and promote social equality through its broader equity initiatives. 

[1] The equity priority groups were expanded in 2022 to include Black as a separate group, at the recommendation of the Equity Steering Committee, in recognition of the need to respond to barriers that Black arts communities face due to anti-Black racism.

[2] Mixed racial descent refers to individuals who belong to more than one ethnic or racial group, including one of the aforementioned groups.

[3] Note that TAC subscribes to the social model of disability, which views disability as a consequence of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society, as opposed to the medical model of disability that focuses on an individual person’s so-called physical or mental limitations. (Adapted from the Public Service Alliance of Canada's definitions of models of disability.)

Toronto Arts Council Equity Framework

Equity at Toronto Arts Council: A Brief History
Equity Guiding Principles
Equity Priority Groups
Equity Priority Policy
Representation and Peer Assessment
Equity Steering Committee and Framework Implementation
Increased Weighting of Equity Implementation Score in Operating Grants