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Ontario Arts Council Budget Stable but Funding Demands Growing

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) was fortunate to have its budget allocation from the Government of Ontario maintained at 100 per cent for 2012–13. We were extremely pleased to learn this, given the Government’s current fiscal environment. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and especially to Minister Chan himself, who worked hard to advocate on our behalf, and appreciate the Government of Ontario’s continued support for the arts.

While the Arts Investment Fund, launched more than two years ago, has injected much-needed new funding into arts organizations, OAC’s base funding has remained constant for the past four years. However, costs have continued to rise, and there have been an ever-increasing number of applicants – more than 175 new arts organizations across the province have received ongoing operating funding during this period. While our budget is stable this year, we cannot predict how the province’s economic future will affect us. At the same time we see that demand continues to grow. Things would have been much more serious for us all had our funding been reduced this year.

Recently, the OAC Board of Directors approved our 2012–13 budget and the following funding framework. In 2012–13, all organizations that are receiving operating funding and meet assessment standards will receive 100 per cent of their previous year’s grant. This is great news. But it comes with more stringent funding reduction policies that have already been implemented. Organizations that fail to meet standard, through peer adjudication, in either or both categories – artistic quality and contribution, and organizational effectiveness – will see reductions as follows:

  • 0 to 5 per cent reduction: below standard on one assessment category reserved for strategic priority organizations and/or operating organizations that were new within the last three years.
  • 10 to 20 per cent reduction if the organization falls below standard on one assessment category for the first time.
  •  20 to 30 per cent reduction if an organization falls  below standard on both assessment categories for the first time.
  • 30 to  50 per cent reduction if an organization falls below standard on one assessment category for the second time in the last five years.
  •  50 to 100 per cent reduction if an organization falls below standard on both assessment categories for the second time in the last five years.

Over the last three years, project applications to OAC have increased by 32 per cent. As a result, creation project programs are being protected through strategic reductions to a small number of programs, including a 50 per cent reduction to Compass.

  • The Compass program now has two deadlines: July 3, 2012 and November 1, 2012.

In the years ahead, OAC will continue to find ways to contain expenditures while still nurturing new arts activity throughout the province – particularly the next generation of young artists and organizations that will become the creative infrastructure of tomorrow.




Access Ignites!: A Day of Sharing, Learning and Connection

Access Event Dan Commanda

Dan Commanda, artist and elder, gives an Anishnaabe welcome.

On March 28 and 29, 2012, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) hosted Access Ignites!,a gathering of Access and Career Development program grant recipients at Toronto’s Arcadian Loft. It was an opportunity for these artists to attend workshops; network with other artists, arts service organizations and OAC staff; and see showcased work.

Peter Caldwell, making his first official appearance as OAC’s new Director and CEO, welcomed and introduced Philip Akin, artist and artistic director of Obsidian Theatre, for the first keynote address. Philip spoke passionately about the barriers faced by artists of colour and the value of an artist’s legacy. Samina Mansuri, an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto, followed Philip and spoke about residencies and other networking opportunities. The following morning, Jani Lauzon emphasized the importance of mentorship and mentors and shared stories from her own journey as an actress and singer/songwriter.

The day-and-a-half event inspired lively conversations about identity, working in Ontario as an Aboriginal artist or as an artist of colour and about the different ways in which people reach out to audiences and to the arts community. Performances and presentations by Access program grant recipients included Maria Pino, Dan Commanda, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Yaovi Hoyi, Diana Tso and William Lau, Mallarvilly Varatharaja, Mitra Ghavamian, Tamara Z. Sanowar Makhan, Sharada K. Eswar, Olga Barrios, Lua Shayenne and Miranda Liverpool, and Veronica Johnny.

Access Ignites! was organized by OAC’s Outreach and Development office, led by Bushra Junaid and coordinated by Nazanin Shoja. OAC Granting Officers were on hand to facilitate discussions, listen to feedback and connect with artists from Toronto and across the province.

Participant quotes:
“I felt overwhelmed with joy … and I was inspired by other people's experiences, stories, works, ambition, passion... I could go on and on and on about the energy at this event, and I wouldn't do it justice.”
Yaovi Hoyi, musician

“I found the Access Ignites! event to be educational, inspirational and fun. I greatly appreciated the positive feedback I received for my film. The opportunity to present was a much needed confidence booster.”
Tamara Z. Sanowar Makhan, filmmaker

“It was a very refreshing, empowering and inspiring day. It's not often that you get to be in a room full of other artists who have faced many of the same types of barriers as you.”
Ariel Smith, media artist




New Cultural Animator in Windsor

Alana Bartol has been hired as Cultural Animator by the Arts Council, Windsor & Region, with funding from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC). She is responsible for promoting community-engaged arts practice in the region. Artists, arts organizations and non-arts groups interested in developing community arts projects can look to her for assistance. Her role also includes providing advice to people interested in applying to OAC’s Artists in the Community/Workplace program as well as to artists from other disciplines who want to know more about OAC programs.

Alana’s experience as an artist, educator and career counsellor have provided her with the mentoring and relationship-building skills needed for this role. As an artist active in Windsor and Detroit, she has established connections within and outside of the arts community.

Alana can be reached by email at or by phone at the arts council office at 519-252-6855.



Why I dance… Pourquoi je danse… Video Celebrates Why We Are All Dancers!

We marked International Dance Day on April 29 with the video release of Why I dance… Pourquoi je danse…. This video, created for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) by filmmaker Gloria Ui Young Kim, has had remarkable success so far, with over 175 000 views on YouTube.

Dance Video Still

Photo credit: Gloria Kim
Still image from Why I dance…Pourquoi je danse...

The video grew out of OAC’s very successful Ontario Dances program, which aims to increase the range and diversity of dance available to Ontario communities outside of Toronto. Through the program, the public has access to dance classes, workshops with artists-in-residence as well as performances by Ontario-based professional dance artists. North Bay’s Capitol Centre is one of 11 Ontario presenters involved in this program. Dee Adrian, general manager, sent us a report on their involvement in the Ontario Dances program:

“SuperNaturalz is a very young (under 30) hip-hop/break dancing group that we included in our program. I felt it would have universal appeal because of the music, the moves and the athleticism. We did four school workshops. We also included a public workshop which was absolutely packed. It was scheduled in our brand new hospital and more than 100 administrators, doctors, nurses and patients attended.

“A final showcase at the Capitol Centre was included as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations. Close to 600 people turned out to see Supernaturalz, and not only did they bring people up on stage to do a workshop within a showcase, they remained afterwards to sign hundreds of autographs and participate in photo-ops. The success of this venture was overwhelming and I can’t wait to continue in this program.”

Why I dance… Pourquoi je danse… is a celebration of dance participation in Ontario and features dancers, both amateur and professional, reflecting on why they dance. It is a moving tribute to an art form enjoyed by many Ontarians and captures the diversity of dance expression in this province.

Read the news release here.




Culture Days Workshops Offered Across Ontario

Culture Days (Ontario) is offering skills-development opportunities for artists, professional and volunteer-run cultural groups, libraries, museums, municipalities and anyone wishing to present an activity during the cross-Canada celebration of arts and culture next September 28–30. A variety of community workshops designed to help participants increase the impact and success of their Culture Days activities will take place from mid-April to early June. Click here for the list of Ontario communities hosting workshops, along with event details.

2012 Culture Days Workshops in Ontario include:

  • On May 25, a one-day French-language symposium exploring topics related to community arts, outreach and arts education will be presented at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. This unique event is produced in partnership with Quebec’s Culture pour tous (producers of Les Journées de la culture), the Fédération culturelle canadienne-français and the National Arts Centre.
  • Community arts councils and municipalities will be hosting more than 20 information sessions in communities across Ontario. Culture Days staff will share tools and resources available to participants while encouraging networking and collaboration in the community.


This year’s Culture Days weekend will take place on September 28, 29 and 30, 2012. Each province has a Culture Days coordinator to help those interested in organizing Culture Days activities. The Ontario Arts Council’s involvement in Culture Days includes hiring Catherine McLeod as Ontario’s Culture Days Animator/Coordinator for the next six months. Working in partnership with Aubrey Reeves, Culture Days Ontario Manager, and the volunteer Ontario Culture Days Task Force, Ms. McLeod’s primary role is to provide advice to Ontario-based communities, artists, arts groups and municipalities interested in organizing activities for Culture Days.

Culture Days will feature free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate “behind the scenes” – and to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators and designers at work in their community.

In 2011, the second annual Culture Days event took place in more than 800 Canadian cities and towns, with attendance topping 1.2 million. Last year, more than 1,265 activities were presented across Ontario, a 36% increase over the first year’s participation levels.

For more details about Ontario Culture Days announcements, please visit Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

Culture Days in Ontario is supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Ontario in recognition of Celebrate the Artist Weekend.

For more information about Culture Days in Ontario please contact:

Catherine McLeod, OAC Culture Days Animator/Coordinator
Telephone: 416-961-1660 ext.5124
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-387-0058 ext. 5124

Aubrey Reeves, Ontario Culture Days Manager
Telephone: 416-646-7469
Toll-free telephone:1-800-387-0058 ext. 7469




Gathering of Northern Emerging Visual Arts Professionals at OAC

Northern Emerging Visual Arts Professionals

Northern Emerging Visual Arts Professionals at OAC

On March 14 and 15, 2012, emerging visual arts professionals from northern Ontario gathered at the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) for two days of networking, information exchange and resource sharing as well as peer-to-peer inspiration. Attendees work as curators, programmers and educators and often volunteer in other arts organizations in their communities. The OAC hosted the meeting to connect talented professionals in the north with each other and with resources useful to them and their work.

Feedback on the day included, “It was an amazing two days of energy and provided a pulse to keep us going. The dedication and energy the participants displayed for their organizations really stirred the encouragement to continue. Seeing the diverse ideas, the hard work and the dedication to keep the arts as part of northern Ontario was very important – it let me know that others are fighting the same fight and I know some of them now. They are available for questions, ideas, partnerships, etc.”

Attendees included

  • Amanda Burke, North Bay
  • Alex Maeve Campbell, North Bay
  • Rose-Anne Cardinal, Sudbury
  • Jackie Carter, North Bay
  • Alana Forslund, Thunder Bay
  • Lindsay Hamilton, Fort Frances
  • Nadia Kurd, Thunder Bay
  • Jean Marshall, Thunder Bay
  • Suzanne Morrissette, Thunder Bay
  • Lora Northway, Thunder Bay

Speakers included

  • Jennifer Bedford, Oakville Galleries
  • Vicky Moufawad-Paul, A Space
  • Christy Thompson, Power Plant
  • Kathryn Townshend, Ontario Arts Coucil



Interpreting Arts Engagement

On February 28, 2012, Loree Lawrence, Community and Multidisciplinary Arts Officer, and Nasreen Khan, Arts Education Officer, focused on arts engagement during a presentation to a group of 40 emerging arts administrators at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. Participants spent the two-hour workshop exploring their own history of arts participation, reviewed the Ontario Arts Engagement Study, which examines how Ontarians participate in the arts, and looked at how they could use this information as arts administrators in program design. The Ontario Arts Council released the research commissioned from WolfBrown last fall.

Read the research.




OAC Podcasting

In this newsletter, we are launching the first in a series of podcasts on specific programs. To help you make the best application possible, granting officers will answer the most frequently asked questions about specific programs in their sectors. We are starting with the Compass program.  Although the program has had its budget reduced, there are two new deadlines: July 3 and November 1, 2012, still to come.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast series here.