In 1962, several visionary Ontarians approached John Robarts, Premier of Ontario, with the idea of establishing a provincial arts council. This group, led by Arthur Gelber, represented the fledgling arts infrastructure that existed then in Ontario. On April 26, 1963, Bill 162 – the legislation setting up the arts council – was given its final reading in the Ontario Legislature, creating the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).
Ontarians, through their elected officials, had decided that the arts were important to their lives and deserved support through public funding. It was the beginning of a system that, with the assistance of other municipal, provincial, and federal funders, has enabled Ontario to flourish as an artistically rich and creative province.
The Ontario Arts Council is an arm's-length agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
. OAC's grants and services to professional, Ontario-based artists and arts organizations support arts education, Aboriginal arts, community arts, crafts, dance, Franco-Ontarian arts, literature, media arts, multidisciplinary arts, music, theatre, touring, and visual arts.
The Ontario Arts Council is directed by 12 volunteer board (council) members who come from communities throughout the province. They are appointed by the Government of Ontario for a three-year term. OAC's board is responsible for setting OAC's policies and oversees the organization's operation.
For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians.
In 2015-16, OAC funded 1,676 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 209 communities across Ontario for a total of $50.5 million.
The Ontario Arts Council was established in 1963 to foster the creation and production of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.