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The Ontario Arts Council identifies and embarks on various initiatives that are in line with its strategic plan. These collaborations benefit artists and can enrich the lives of Ontarians by expanding the reach of artistic activities.

The following section features current and past projects. Click on each project name for more information. Click here for information about projects that took place before 2008.

If you have questions or comments, please contact

  • ArtReach Toronto
    ArtReach Toronto engages and empowers youth in Toronto’s underserved communities by funding youth arts projects.
  • Artists in Residence (Education)  This pilot program promotes arts-infused learning through artist residencies at various sites, including schools and Friendship Centres.
  • Artists in Residence (Health)
    The Artists in Residence (Health) pilot program is supporting artist residencies within two health care settings, connecting wellness and creativity.
    This online financial and statistical database collects information from arts organizations in a central website, then makes the data available to public funders.
  • Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services
    A collaboration between the Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services (CANON), managed by the Office of Francophone Affairs for the Department of Canadian Heritage. In 2008–2009, the OAC received multiyear funding from CANON to undertake two projects that benefit the francophone arts community.
  • Mouvement des intervenant(e)s en communication radio de l'Ontario (MICRO)
    OAC will partner with MICRO to produce a series of short capsules featuring Franco-Ontarian music artists. The series will air throughout MICRO’s francophone community-radio network.
  • Royal Conservatory Artist Educator Foundations Course
    A professional development program that provides tools and training to artists who work in schools and community settings.
  • spOtlight
    A pilot project that began in several Ontario communities. spOtlight is a weekend festival of free hands-on arts activities that celebrates local artists in Ontario communities.

ArtReach Toronto

ArtReach Toronto is a partnership between all three levels of government and various funding organizations, to create youth arts projects in an effort to engage youth who live in Toronto’s underserved communities.

Funding for a broad range of arts practices

Through ArtReach, Toronto’s youth have opportunities for creative expression in various forms. ArtReach has provided funding for projects in mosaic art, hip hop, spoken word, improvisation, dance, fashion design, Aboriginal mask making, drama, writing, crafts and other mediums.

Designed in collaboration with youth

To better serve youth, ArtReach invited Grassroots Youth Collaborative (GYC), a network of 11 youth-led organizations, to participate in developing the program. Many of their recommendations were implemented, resulting in an innovative model for funding youth arts initiatives. The model aims to be inclusive and accessible, and provides a high level of support to applicants.

Empowering youth through ownership

ArtReach insists that funding be accessible to youth directly, and that youth be empowered by accepting full ownership of projects. Their responsibility ranges from making grant applications to managing funds appropriately. To help them, ArtReach offers workshops on topics such as grant-application writing, social enterprise, trusteeship, non-profit financial management, governance, fundraising and achieving non-profit incorporation and charitable status.

For more information, please visit

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Artists in Residence (Education)

OAC has built connections with various education partners to set up artist residencies in schools within the jurisdictions of the education partners. The long-term goal is to place artists in residence in schools across the province. 

Artists selected by OAC and education partners

OAC and our education partners together undertake the selection process. Some of the artists are drawn from OAC’s Artists in Education roster; most are drawn from local communities.

Focus on student creativity and engagement

The artist residencies take place during the regular academic year (September to June) and are integrated into classroom time. The focus of AIR in Education is on student creativity and engagement, and the flexibility of the program lends itself well to curriculum integration.

Program is flexible to suit partner’s needs

AIR in Education is designed with flexibility to fit different partners’ needs.

Students explored their talents

Two goals of ongoing collaboration between artists and students are: to increase student engagement; and to provide alternative avenues for learning. The program helped students discover and explore their artistic talents, and encouraged them to consider a career in the arts.

Analysis reveals benefits to students:

  • Increase in engagement: Students became more focused on and excited by their school work.
  • Increase in achievement: Students displayed better understanding of concepts, and grades improved.
  • Opportunities: Students began to learn in innovative ways.
  • Sense of community : Students developed teamwork skills through collaboration with other students and with teachers.
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Artists in Residence (Health)

The Artists in Residence (Health) pilot program is supporting artist residencies within two health care settings, connecting wellness and creativity. OAC’s partners include the new North Bay Regional Health Centre slated for opening January 30, 2011, as well as The Four Villages Community Health Centre in Toronto. Partnering arts organizations are the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery in North Bay and Toronto’s Centre for Digital Storytelling.

OAC’s funds are directed to the artistic and living costs of the artists in residence. The arts organizations involved are working closely with both OAC and health care partners. Health care partners for their part will provide artist space. No frontline health care costs are being diverted to this pilot.

Arts Partners

  • A northern Ontario artist will be selected for the first residency in North Bay. It is intended to help create the space and set the tone for the facility, and will take place in the summer of 2010 as the medical community moves into the new North Bay Regional Health Centre building.
  • For the second residency, the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery will invite emerging and established Canadian or international artists to apply for two to three month residencies that will engage the health centre community through their work in visual, media or interdisciplinary arts. It will start as the facility opens its doors to the public in January 2011.
  • This residency will actively promote interactions between artists, health workers, patients and visitors, as artists also undertake outreach activities such as talks, workshops and exhibitions, intended to increase artistic awareness within the community.
  • A jury composed of regional practicing artists and healthcare professionals will select the artists. The project, dubbed “ArtsHealth North Residency” coincides with the launch of the hospital’s state of the art facility, the North Bay Regional Health Centre. Deadlines for the second residency applications will be made available by the W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery in the spring of 2010.
  • In Toronto, the Centre for Digital Storytelling and The Four Villages Community Health Centre are collaborating on a six month-long video storytelling project that will capture two to five minute stories featuring community members of all ages and walks of life. Artist Jennifer LaFontaine, has been selected to lead this project.


  • Artists in Residence (Health) is modelled on OAC’s Artists in Residence (Education) program, which was launched in 2007-2008 and now counts five educational partners across Ontario.
  • The Artists in Residence (Health) pilot has been tailored to each community’s needs. The projects embody a unique way of bringing art and creativity to a health and wellness setting, and explore ways in which community engagement efforts can have a positive impact on the physical space and the community’s experiences in that space.
  • As Dermot Wilson, Director/Curator at North Bay’s W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery and a member of the North Bay Regional Health Centre’s Art Committee, says “this program adds the artist and contemporary art to healing and recognizes that psychological well-being, creativity and the role of physical space are part of this process.”
  • The North Bay partners formed a committee to develop and promote this residency initiative. The group includes architects, artists, doctors, nurses, dentists, and managers among others.

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CADAC (Canadian Arts Data/ Données sur les arts au Canada) is an online financial and statistical database that lightens the administrative burden for arts organizations applying for operating grants. Through CADAC, participating public funders accept common application requirements from arts organizations. Arts organizations can then submit financial and statistical information once when applying to multiple public funders.

Data available for tracking and comparisons

Aside from streamlining the application process, CADAC allows arts organizations to access reports and historical data on their own organizations, for consistent tracking over time. Organizations can also compare their own data with aggregate data from similar organizations.

Gives Canadian arts community a common voice

With CADAC, arts funders and arts organizations are able to identify trends and monitor the overall health of the arts sector. CADAC unifies arts organizations across Canada, giving them a common voice to speak about the arts.

CADAC was originally conceived by the Intergovernmental Roundtable of Arts Funders and Foundations (IRAFF) in Ontario and shepherded through the development phase by the Ontario Arts Council.

Arts funders currently using CADAC include:

  • Alberta Foundation for the Arts
  • British Columbia Arts Council
  • Canada Council for the Arts
  • City of Vancouver
  • Manitoba Arts Council
  • New Brunswick Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport
  • Ontario Arts Council
  • Saskatchewan Arts Board
  • Toronto Arts Council

Other provincial, territorial and municipal arts funders are being encouraged to join the partnership.

For more information:

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Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services

OAC received multi-year funding for two projects in 2008–09 from the Canada-Ontario Agreement on French-Language Services, managed by the Office of Francophone Affairs for the Department of Canadian Heritage:

  • funding to OAC’s Francophone Artists in Education roster, to provide week-long arts workshops in schools throughout the province during the school year;
  • support towards the position of Francophone Arts Associate Officer whose role is to strengthen ties with the Francophone arts community through outreach and promotion of OAC programs outside the Franco-Ontarian Arts Office.

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Mouvement des intervenant(e)s en communication radio de l’Ontario (MICRO)

OAC will partner with MICRO to produce a series of short capsules featuring Franco-Ontarian music artists. Each capsule will feature an interview and performance by the artist. Capsules will be broadcast throughout MICRO’s Francophone community-radio network in Toronto, Cornwall, Penetanguishene, Kapuskasing and Hearst.

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Royal Conservatory Artist Educator Foundations Course

Since 2009, the Royal Conservatory has offered a professional development course that supports artists to work more effectively in schools and community settings. The Artist-Educator Foundations Course was crafted for artists who are already engaged in arts education, and for those who would like to learn more about arts education.

Funding provided by the Ontario Arts Council enables Ontario artists to enrol in the course at a reduced fee.

Artists learn teaching principles

Throughout this introductory 30-hour course, artists learn how to develop and structure arts-based lessons that effectively engage learners in schools and other community settings. Artists will learn how to develop arts-based lessons that incorporate their arts practice and effectively engage participants. Topics include planning and partnering with a teacher, lesson planning, classroom management, teaching tactics and strategies. The curriculum also focuses on how people learn at different stages of life.

“Lab” environment allows for practical testing

The Artist-Educator Foundations Course combines educational content and theory with a creative “laboratory” environment where artists can apply their arts practice in education.

Artist-Educator Foundations Course offered in five communities in 2015

The OAC is pleased to sponsor The Royal Conservatory’s Artist-Educator Foundations Course once again in 2015. Every year, OAC reaches new communities with this initiative but also returns to communities with high demand for this program. These courses will run in North Bay (offered in French), St. Catharines, Ottawa, Owen Sound and Toronto from February to May 2015. The application process opened in January 2015. Details are available here 

This represents the sixth year that the OAC has sponsored these courses. The course was available in seven Ontario cities in the spring of 2009: Hamilton, Mississauga, Ottawa (bilingual) and Sudbury (offered in French), Thunder Bay, Toronto and Windsor. In 2010, instruction took place in London, Mississauga, Niagara-on-the-Lake, North Bay, Ottawa, Peterborough, and in Toronto (offered in English and French). In 2011, courses were held in Haliburton, Kingston, Kitchener, Newmarket, Thunder Bay and Toronto. In 2012, courses took place in Barrie, Kenora, Ottawa, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, and Toronto. In 2013, courses took place in Kingston, London, Ottawa (offered in French), Sioux Lookout, Sudbury, and Toronto. And in 2014, courses were held in Guelph, Whitby, Toronto (offered in French), Manitoulin Island (developed in collaboration with Aboriginal artists and Elders), Windsor and Gananoque.

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In the spring of 2007, the Government of Ontario unveiled the Status of Ontario’s Artists Act , which formalized the government’s commitment to promote the importance of the arts in communities across Ontario.

First weekend in June honours Ontario artists

To recognize art’s importance to Ontario’s economy and quality of life, the act proclaimed the first weekend in June as “Celebrate the Artist Weekend.” To support the government’s commitment, the Ontario Ministry of Culture funded a pilot arts festival on that weekend, and asked the Ontario Arts Council to produce it.

spOtlight pilot launched in 5 cities in June 2008

The result was spOtlight, which showcased artists and arts organizations in Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford and Waterloo and focused attention on the important role the arts play in our daily lives. By encouraging the public to interact with the artists and experience the creative processes, the activities encouraged a better appreciation and understanding of the arts.

spOtlight pilot extended in 2009

The pilot was repeated in June 2009, and enjoyed great success with families because of the number of all-ages events. There were 135 activities across the five participating communities, and an estimated 250 artists were involved. The weekend of free interactive activities included behind-the-scenes tours, workshops, art talks and demonstrations by artists working in theatre, music, dance, literature, media arts, crafts, and the visual and performance arts.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, the Grand River Transit operated an art bus hosted by artists who engaged passengers by providing insights into their work.

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This section highlights initiatives that occurred between 2002 and 2008.


Cinq par Cinq
Five short films exploring the passions of five francophone artists. Produced and broadcast by OAC in collaboration with the National Film Board.


Certificate Course in Arts Education
In collaboration with York University, OAC offered a training course for Ontario artist educators.


National Film Board Mentorship Program
Four Ontario-based francophone filmmakers received training in editing, story structure, script writing and high-definition filming from an experienced professional.


Mobile Media
Audiences in northern and regional communities of Ontario saw presentations of independently produced, artist-driven films and videos reflecting Ontario’s cultural and regional diversity.

Arts Ed Rocks!
A professional development conference for artist educators and a celebration showcasing young artists raised awareness for arts education in and out of the classroom.

Re-Generation Conference
A 2-day conference on management, mentoring and professional development in arts organizations produced valuable insights from attendees.


40 on 40
To celebrate its 40 th birthday, OAC partnered with TV Ontario to produce and broadcast 40 short films highlighting the work of 40 artists funded during OAC’s history.


Exposures: The Art of Film and Video
OAC and TV Ontario teamed up to produce the Exposures film and video series, showcasing eight short documentary films by some of Ontario’s most cutting-edge emerging film and video artists.

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Cinq par Cinq

The Ontario Arts Council collaborated with the National Film Board (NFB) to produce and broadcast five short films about five francophone artists in Ontario. Each film explored the passion of a different artist working in the fields of dance, poetry, music and visual arts.

Increased exposure for Franco-Ontario artists

The films were shot by five different Ontario filmmakers, and aired on TFO in February and March of 2008. The films provided exposure to both emerging and seasoned Ontario filmmakers, and promoted the work of Francophone-Ontarian artists. The NFB produced and distributed a DVD compilation of the five films, titled 5 par 5 , which is available for purchase through the NFB .

The five films:

  • La sensation haïtienne , about a slam poet who calls out, to passersby and children with a love song, in the language of Molière. This is the first film written and directed by Stéphanie Larrue.
  • À deux, c’est mieux , by seasoned director Eileen Thalenberg, in which a giant dollhouse provides the set for the unbridled choreography of the Corpus dance company.
  • Dans l’ombre d’un Konflit Dramatik . Filmmaker Geoff Bowie follows the well-known Sudbury group through the streets of Quebec City. The group considers the state of the world while filming a music video for a song with lyrics by Patrice Desbiens.
  • Derrière l’image . Director Nadine Valcin interviews Sylvie Bélanger while the artist tracks the rhythmic movement of a tango for four of her new video installations.
  • Espaces de vie – oublie et souviens-toi , in which Jean-Marc Larivière produces a dreamlike recreation of visual artist Geneviève Ruest’s process and the origins of her work.

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Certificate Course in Arts Education

For 3 years, beginning in 2006, OAC collaborated with York University on a summer training course for artists who were providing arts education in Ontario classrooms. In February 2007, OAC used this model for a five-day course offered to Stratford Festival artists.

Formal training for artist educators

For years, artists—dancers, storytellers, writers, musicians and visual artists—have been using their skills to enhance the Ontario school curriculum. The Certificate Course in Arts Education provided artists with tools to evaluate the success of their programs and with instruction on improving their work in the classroom.

A wide variety of topics

Artists learned about the stages of child and adolescent development, characteristics of an effective classroom, school policies regarding safety, the role of the arts in education, and current issues in education such as how to teach in multicultural classrooms. The course also taught artists how to collaborate effectively with classroom teachers.

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National Film Board Mentorship Program

In 2006, OAC partnered with the National Film Board (Ontario and West Studio) to create a mentorship program for four Ontario-based francophone filmmakers. Each director was mentored by an experienced professional in the fields of pre-production, production and post-production. Each received training in editing, story structure, script writing and high-definition filming.

Personalized training for aspiring Franco-Ontario filmmakers

The mentorship initiative was designed to provide personalized training within the context of each filmmaker’s artistic and career objectives. The program successfully supported the artistic development of Franco-Ontario filmmakers, a need identified in consultation with members of Ontario’s francophone arts community.

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Mobile Media

The Mobile Media tours in 2005 and 2006 were designed to help build audiences for independently produced, artist-driven film and video in the northern and regional communities of Ontario. Programming focused on films that reflect Ontario’s cultural and regional diversity and included elements of Aboriginal and francophone cultures. Some communities screened a block of works by local filmmakers.

Mobile Media I

The first Mobile Media tour showcasing short films by independent Ontario filmmakers and video artists took place in 2005. Four communities—Peterborough, North Bay, Thunder Bay and Sudbury—had a 90-minute screening and a half-day workshop facilitated by a group of media artists plus the tour coordinator and an OAC granting officer.

Mobile Media II

The tour was expanded to 11 cities in 2006, and showcased the work of 31 Canadian film and video artists. Stops on the tour included Hamilton, Timmins, Moosonee, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Sault Ste. Marie, Whitefish Lake, North Bay, Sudbury, Moose Factory and Guelph.

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Arts Ed Rocks!

To draw attention to the importance of arts education in and out of the classroom, OAC hosted a professional development conference for artist educators. Legacy and Evolution: An Exploration of Creativity and Arts Ed Rocks! was that celebrated and showcased young people who participated in arts education activities.

Building connections among artists who work in the classroom

Using a mix of physical exercises, hands-on activities and brainstorming sessions, Legacy and Evolution workshops provided experiences aimed at enhancing each artist’s education practices. Participants received a tool kit packed with ideas for activities, instructional information and learning exercises.

Variety of inspiring performances

Arts Ed Rocks! was held at the Lorraine Kisma Theatre for Young People and featured a variety of youth speakers and performers. During the pre-performance reception, Vinh Duong from Regent Park Focus and Shira Jacobs from the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus spoke about the profound impact arts education had on their lives. There were dynamic and powerful performances by renowned jazz vocalist Tabby Johnson, music, visual arts and dance troupe New Cuban Generation, spoken word artist Dwayne Morgan, Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, contemporary dance troupe TILT, and innovative theatre companies coloUred girls collective and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre.

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ReGeneration Conference

Re-Generation: The Healthy Arts Leader focused on management, mentoring and professional development for arts-sector employees and organizations.

Attendee participation delivered rich insights

The conference, held on February 6th and 7th and attended by 312 people, was designed for attendee participation. Plenary and breakout sessions throughout the conference provided suggestions for future growth and rich insights into the current state of human resources in arts organizations.

Topics included:

  • generational differences in employees’ work-related values
  • mentorship strategies
  • challenges in professional development
  • effects of the language used by arts organizations
  • succession planning
  • leadership

A joint effort

The conference was organized by the OAC in partnership with Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, George Cedric Metcalfe Charitable Foundation, Ontario Ministry of Culture, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation.

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40 on 40

In 2003, OAC turned 40. The celebration included a partnership with TVOntario (TVO) to produce and broadcast 40 short films highlighting the range of activity and creativity of 40 artists funded during OAC’s 40-year history. Created by award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, each of the 1-to-2-minute films drew the viewer into the artist’s work.

Broadcast on TVO

The films aired throughout TVO’s broadcast schedule during several months, and a 50-minute compilation of the films aired on TVO’s Masterworks series. The films were also incorporated into the TVO Independent Learning Centre’s website, CareerMatters, to encourage those interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

Click here for a list of featured artists.

Exposures: The Art of Film and Video

In 2002 and again in 2005, TVOntario (TVO) and OAC teamed up to showcase works by some of Ontario’s most emerging cutting-edge film and video artists. They co-produced the film and video series Exposures: The Art of Film and Video, which featured eight short documentary films by Ontario-based media artists.

Challenged film conventions

The short, experimental and non-traditional films dealt with a range of themes and varied in length from two to thirty minutes. Each film was introduced by a short interview with the filmmaker.

Films aired on TVO’s Masterworks in 2005

The series aired in two segments on TVO’s arts documentary program Masterworks ; films included:

  • Yin Yin Jade Love by Carolyn Wong, about Wong’s grandmother, who emigrated from China as a young child during the early 20th century and settled in Victoria, British Columbia
  • My Bike is Gone! by Janet Csonto, using quirky and startling experimental animation techniques
  • White by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, a wistful homage to his grandfather and his Jewish roots
  • The Stone Show by Zachery Longboy, about growing up Aboriginal in a white family
  • Memory of Joy by Ross Turnbull, which explores the emotion of joy using experimental film techniques
  • A Temporary Arrangement by Phillip Barker, which offers dreamlike images of family and friends floating on a river
  • Marguerite by Katherine Knight, inspired by Canada’s first uncloistered nun, Marguerite Bourgeoys, who settled and taught on the island of Montreal in the 17th century.
  • X(trace), studies for a self-portrait by Phil Rose, inspired by British painter Francis Bacon’s self-portraits

Films aired on TVO’s Masterworks in 2002

  • Charles Officer’s When Morning Comes explores family love and family dynamics. The film follows a young father who struggles through addiction as he works to meet the expectations of his seven-year-old son.
  • Filmed in Toronto and Berlin, Dizzy by Andrew Hall is a love story told through flashbacks triggered by dizziness. It tells of the search for sexual and personal identity in the modern world.
  • The Last Split Second from acclaimed filmmaker Judith Doyle is a visceral account of a car crash and the days after. The film is an adaptation of the words of Toronto artist Andy Patton, who survived a broken back as the result of a car accident. The film layers stock footage, digital effects, computer animation, optical printing and film chemistry to convey shock and the effects of trauma.
  • Wide-Eyed by Jane Kim recounts the story of a young Korean-Canadian desperate to adhere to Western standards of beauty.
  • Mike Hoolboom’s Letters From Home is a much-lauded piece that showcase the words of people living with AIDS and activist Vito Russo and the words of the filmmaker. The film takes an impassioned autobiographical look at life with AIDS and uses a diversity of images and cinematic techniques.
  • Richard Fung’s VSea in the Blood is an examination of love and loss in a personal tale about family. The film uses slides, photographs and old home movies and takes Fung from Trinidad to England with an invalid sister; later Fung travels overland across two continents with a lover who is HIV-positive.

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